Japanese robot finds lost things

Last updated 12:40 01/03/2012
EMIEW 2: The Excellent Mobility and Interactive Existence as Workmate 2.

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Forgot where you put your glasses? A Japanese robot can find them for you, and guide you to where they are.

The red and white robot, named EMIEW2, is about the size of a six-year-old child and glides everywhere on wheels at the bottom of its legs, its round, white face with two black eyes vaguely reminiscent of the iconic Hello Kitty.

But the robot, the latest version of one that debuted in 2005 and developed by electronics firm Hitachi, is more than just another cute face. It has enough artificial intelligence to identify and locate objects it has been shown, as well as recognizing human faces.

Shown a digital camera in a recent demonstration, the robot said, "That's probably a DSLR camera."

When it sees an object, the robot uses two cameras mounted on its head to compare the color and shape with images stored in its database.

"EMIEW collects images of various objects from the internet and saves them on an external database," said developer Takashi Sumiyoshi.

"Then, when you show it something, EMIEW figures out what it is by comparing the color and shape. If you name an object, EMIEW searches for it and guides you to where it is located."

To do so, the robot communicates with a network of cameras mounted around the room.

Asked to find a watch, the robot said, "The watch is on Mr. Tanaka's desk. I'll lead you to it." It then glided toward the desk at a speed of 6 km an hour, about the pace at which a human can follow with brisk steps.

The unit weighs 14 kg and its legs fold up for easy carrying. The wheels feature "posture control" technology that helps it make smoother turns.

"We developed this robot to mainly provide guidance services for people, so it has to be nimble in moving around without bumping into people, and light as well so it wouldn't hurt anybody even if it accidentally hit them," Sumiyoshi said.

The robot's developers have no plans to commercialize it but believe it will eventually become a standard feature of care homes for the elderly, hospitals, tourist attractions - and ultimately, the home.

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- Reuters


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