Matec Yao (Management & Technology Interchange Group Yao) is an organization formed in 2004 that gives introductory courses on electronics and robotics to everyday citizens with the goal of expanding interest in robotics and engineering in Yao, Osaka. They hold their own Robo-Con events where robot lovers get the chance to meet with other enthusiasts. In May 2009, they developed an eco-friendly robot to teach children about recycling called the Recycling & Environment Robot with the help of NAIST students.
Children can quiz the robot to determine what recycling bin a can or bottle should go in. You give the robot a recyclable, and after thinking for about 15 seconds it gives you the answer. It comes to a decision by squeezing objects placed in its hand, determining if the object is metal or plastic from the level of deformation registered by its strain gauges. It’s not always 100% right, since some plastic bottles have ribbing which makes them difficult to differentiate from aluminum cans, but the system tracks erroneous decisions to help improve the robot’s accuracy.
Aimed at elementary school students, the robot is equipped with open source speech recognition and synthesis software (Julius), so that it can answer student’s questions about recycling. The robot is 123cm tall, with a hefty weight of 60kg. It has 5 DOF per arm, and a 2 DOF neck, actuated by Vstone’s Vservos, which have high torque (115kg/cm and 40kg/cm). 5 photo-reflective sensors located near the bottom will eventually allow the robot to follow lines.
- Matec Yao (official site JP)
- Yao Recycle Center (official site JP)
- Matec Yao’s Robo-Con @ Impress Robot Watch (JP)
Matec Yao | Robonable