Waseda University’s SHALAB developed the Multimodal Collaborative Robot iSHA (interactive Systems for Humanoid Agent) between 1999-2001. In order to create a robot that could communicate naturally with human beings in a variety of ways, Kenji Suzuki and Tomonori Shindo incorporated previously developed speech processing, image processing, sensing interfaces, and KANSEI analysis and synthesis software from their lab. KANSEI Information Processing (KIP) is a research area specific to Japan that encompasses an individual’s personality, sensibilities, and intuitive understanding. The hope is that implementing such a system will allow a robot to behave more naturally.
The goal of the project was to build a robot capable of “living” and interacting with people, so it had to communicate autonomously and be able to achieve certain tasks. Before performing an action, it says what it is going to do using speech synthesis. The robot responds to noises (such as clapping) and speech (“turn left/right”), visually tracks and reaches for objects, and moves according to how it is pushed or pulled. It is also able to detect the tempo of a song and perform synchronized dancing motions to the beat (swinging its arms and waggling its head). Rudimentary grasping capability allow it to hold your hand during a handshake.
iSHA stands 168cm (5’6″) tall, weighs 130kg (286 lbs), moves on a wheeled base, and is equipped with stereo vision, stereo microphones for sound localization, 1 microphone for speech recognition, and tactile sensors on its body and hands. The upper body has 24 DOF (8 for the head, 4 for the neck, and 6 for each arm) while the base has 2 (one for each wheel).
iSHA made several public appearances, most notably at Robodex 2002, where people interacted with it having no prior knowledge of how to operate it. Waseda University’s ROBITA, ROBISUKE, and SCHEMA as well as Tsukuba University’s Genie might be considered descendants of iSHA. Dr. Kenji Suzuki is now an Assistant Professor at Tsukuba University.
Waseda University SHALAB