Japanese scientists want robots in homes

YOKOHAMA: Japanese scientists are trying to make robots part of the family rather than automated servants – by improving their ability to communicate with their human owners, according to exhibitors at the Robodex 2003 robot fair here. 

This year's fair, which opened yesterday, is dominated more than ever by humanoids – robots based on the human form, some of which can even walk on two legs, like Honda's Asimo or Sony's agile SDR4-X II. 

Honda has until now concentrated on perfecting the naturalistic movements of its 1.2m and 52kg android, but is now interested in its capacity to interact with humans, a Honda representative at the fair said. 

The latest version of its Asimo understands about 100 words and can recognise voices and faces. 

The robot has already found itself a place in the job market and works as a receptionist, for an annual fee of 20 million yen (RM627,000) at nine companies including IBM Japan and the Takashimaya department store chain. 


Designed purely as an entertainment robot, Sony's SDR4, is 58cm tall and weighs 7kg. It can pick itself up if it falls, is capable of 1,000 different movements, can dance to 10 songs, use more than 20,000 words and have 200 pre-programmed conversational exchanges with its owner. 


It is not yet on sale, but Masahiro Fujita, the principal scientist at Sony Intelligent Dynamics Laboratory, hopes it will be soon. 


“Our efforts are to realise a real home humanoid robot as a partner of a human,” Fujita said. – AFP         

  • Another perspective from The Yomiuri Shimbun, a partner of Asia News Network. 

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