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Robovie R3 robot is much better yet cheaper than previous version

By Damir Beciri
21 April 2010

robovie-r3-1We already wrote about Robovie-II robot – designed to assist the elderly and disabled in everyday task. Japanese start-up Vstone and Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), have launched a new half-size humanoid robot designed for the same purpose and they named it Robovie3. The robot is much improved, yet cheaper than its predecessor.

Robovie R3 is built of plastic over an aluminum frame. It stands about 108cm (3′6″) tall and weighs 35kg (77 pounds). It is equipped with 15 servomotors which enable it to perform 13 degrees of freedom (neck x3, 2 arms x4, 2 omnidirectional wheels) with bonus 4 degrees of freedom from its eyes.

It has 11 tactile sensors throughout its body. Robovie R3 is equipped with 2 USB cameras for eyes, 2 mono microphones for ears, a speaker for a mouth, and can be equipped with a laser range finder in its base for obstacle detection. It will also communicate with a local network which includes other robots, cameras, and mobile phone services.

In the following video, the robot demonstrates how it can roll over raised tiles designed to guide visually impaired people, a common feature in public areas of Japan. It can also hold a person’s hand while moving and go up and down wheelchair ramps.

It seems a bit faster than its predecessor and we have to say the design got a bit better (since we quite criticized it in Robovie-II). The designs presented until now include two types (the one on the right looks a bit like small jumping robot ROPID, because it was designed in the same time by Tomotaka Takahashi from ROBO-GARAGE) presented in the image below.

Robovie R3 is based on a Windows-powered computer, with a specialist sub-board that controls the main robot functions and which is compatible with the same robot control and management software that Vstone uses for their smaller hobby robots.

It’s being sold as a research platform. While incorporating significant cost reductions from Robovie II, R3 will still cost about $40,000. ATR and Vstone hope to sell about 30 units this year.

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