Known mainly for its manufacturing robots, Yaskawa is also developing robots to assist human beings in daily life in response to Japan’s aging society. Their next generation service robot, SmartPal, was updated in 2007 to the SmartPal V. This semi-humanoid robot moves in any direction on three wheels and has two 7 DOF arms with a variety of optional grippers allowing it to manipulate objects. Speech recognition and synthesis software allow the robot to carry on a simple conversation.
The “V” in the name suggests its most significant upgrade: a new joint in the waist which allows it to bend over to pick up objects from the floor or simply reach ahead. Among other improvements are a streamlined body thanks to its smaller servos (roughly 1/2 the volume), additional CCD cameras, an increase in speed to 3.6km/h, and an operating time of 2.5 hours per charge.
Yaskawa continues to develop their service robot SmartPal V and as of September 2009 have developed sensorless feedback in its arms and wrists. Practical applications for the robot include: information terminals at airports and other commercial venues; office services such as baggage carrier and patrol; and nursing/home care support such as cart delivery. Demonstrations included SmartPal V picking up objects from the floor, cleaning the floor with a standard vacuum, picking up and distributing tissues, and signing its own name using a marker.
Yaskawa simultaneously unveiled SmartGuide, an LCD projector unit which can replace the SmartPal V’s upper torso at the waist. This add-on can give presentations and move around on its own, with a battery life of 4 hours per charge. Media of both robots after the break.
- Yaskawa SmartPal V / SmartGuide official press release (JP)
- SmartPal V & SmartGuide @ Impress Robot Watch (JP) , (2), (3), (4), (5), (6)
- SmartPal V Sensorless Feedback @ Robonable (JP)
Impress Robot Watch