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Hitachi’s vision of a future service robot – EMIEW 2

By Damir Beciri
19 June 2010

emiew-2Electronics company Hitachi unveiled a new version of their small roller-skating robot which they plan to use as tour guides or help to security guards with additional surveillance. Dubbed the EMIEW 2 (Excellent Mobility and Interactive Existence as Workmate 2), the little humanoid robot has complex spring-loaded shock absorbers in its legs that allow it to move across minor bumps and wires on the floor without tripping.

EMIEW 2 incorporates new technology not included in its predecessor EMIEW. The new technology developed was conducted as part of the “Project for the Practical Application of Next-Generation Robots,” commissioned by the independent administrative agency, New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Japan.

It is 80 centimeters (32 inches) tall and it weights 14 kg (almost 31 pounds). The equipped Li-ion battery provides it with approximately 1 hour of operation when it is fully charged. As its predecessor, EMIEW 2 uses the same voice communication, and obstacle evasion technology which enables safe maneuvering between moving objects. However, the new version has the addition of autonomous moving technology which plots how to reach a destination by automatically mapping the robot’s surroundings.

EMIEW 2 is equipped with 14 microphones fitted into its helmet, because its developers worked on algorithms that are able to pick out human voices from background noise such as music or the clatter of footsteps. It uses 2 or 4-wheel transformable wheeled leg-type mechanism in order to move at a speed of 6 km (3.7 miles) an hour, and maximum acceleration of 2 m/s2 (200 Gal or 2 N/kg). Its new legs  allow it to crouch on its knees and roll around on an extra set of wheels for greater stability, as well as the ability to lift its feet 3 centimeters (1.2 in) off the ground to step over small obstacles.

“It can control its posture the way humans do when we stabilize ourselves after jumping on inline skates,” said Yuji Hosoda, chief researcher at Hitachi’s transportation systems department.

Hitachi expects EMIEW 2 to be used in facilities like offices and hospitals in the future, performing duties as surveillance where it could cover blind spots or guiding visitors around since it is able to deal with floor obstacles and noise.

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