November 26, 2009

Developers Unveil New Robotic Creations At Robot Exhibition

New robotic developments in Japan can cook snacks, play with your kids, model clothes, and search for disaster victims, AFP reported.

This year's International Robot Exhibition kicked off this week in Japan, where developers are showing off the latest robo-inventions from 192 companies and 64 organizations from at home and abroad.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is the industrial robot "Motoman" from Yaskawa Electric Corp., which fully cooked a Japanese pancake, called an okonomiyaki, on a sizzling hotplate.

"It is delicious. Please enjoy," said the human-size creation.

Also on display was the artificial hand called the "H-type" -- a robotic hand with a sufficiently deft touch to handle a piece of pound cake without dropping a single crumb.

Jun Honda of robot developer Denso Wave said H-type's robot hand could pick up food without crushing it, which has been a hurdle for metal arms.

Co-developed with software maker Squse, Denso used small air pumps and a smooth silicon skin for the artificial limb and says the device may one day be used to help the sick and elderly.

Honda said it could one day be used to serve food for people who need care.

Meanwhile, the snake-shaped "Active Scope Camera," which uses robotic technology to slither serpent-style through the rubble of a disaster zone to take and transmit live video images, may also be used to help humans in emergency situations.

The slithering instrument inches itself forward with thousands of tiny devices called cilia that resemble the legs on a centipede. Tohoku University and the International Rescue System Institute jointly developed the Active Scope Camera.

Elsewhere, billed as the first eco-friendly robot, Eager Co. showed off a curvaceous female-shaped humanoid made of layers of cardboard.

The mechanical figure, with its soundless, smooth and almost seductive movements could make its way to the theatrical stage or find a job as a display window mannequin.

Eager's Tsuyoshi Yamashita said they want to apply the very lightweight robot as a new advertising medium.

"The smooth movements of the robot would help female customers feel safe and have an affinity with the machine," he said.

The Ropid, which is only 15 inches and sports big, round eyes and boxy arms and legs may be more at home in a toy department than on a factory floor. However, it can stand up, walk, run and jump -- but in a loveable way.

The Ropid's creator, Tomotaka Takahashi, said the challenge was to design a robot in a way to make people believe they could communicate with it.

"With his quick actions, he looks like he's really alive."


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