Friday, 15 June 2007

Useful robot companions

(watch YouTube video here)The first little robot, iRobot, is a noisy but helpful little automatic vacuum cleaner, like we planned to buy for work at KCDC ... what happened to that idea, I wonder? I met the reality in Matsuya Depaato today. Not very expensive for a cleanliness companion. If he were my pet, I would train him to work while I was out. It can differentiate between polished surfaces and carpet, avoid bumping into walls or falling off edges and trace its way around your floor. Fits under many household furnishings. The humanoid robot, less evidently independent or useful, is a 'baby' robot (watch YouTube video here) with 2-word vocabulary but definitely progressive eyeballs and spongy texture, [created by Osaka University]. The flute-playing robot seems much more useful and talented: humanoid anthropomorphic robot flutists with robotic lips, lungs, arms, neck, tongue, oral cavity, vibrato system (throat + diaphragm). Fingering and angulation and yaw of limbs and embouchure determine pitch. Tongue determines articulation, neck affects harmonic spectrum (overtones/tonal quality), eyes retain visual contact with audience, ears record sound, vibrato transforms frequency and intensity, simulating human physicality of playing. [Created by Mechanical Engineering at Waseda University, Takanishi Lab, Tokyo]