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Waseda University’s Sugano Lab developed WENDY (Waseda ENgineering Designed sYmbiont) in 1998 in order to study human-robot interaction and improve on the manual dexterity of their previous robot (Hadaly-2). WENDY is designed for physical and emotional interaction; a symbiotic robot that would work cooperatively with people in their home or at medical and welfare facilities. WENDY demonstrated the fine force control of its dexterous hands by successfully cracking open eggs, as well as holding a knife and slicing a cucumber. Thanks to its stiff fingernails, it could also pick up very small objects, like coins.

Every joint in each arm uses the lab’s specially developed joint mechanism called the Mechanical Impedance Adjuster, which is compliant to external forces applied to it, such as by humans. WENDY can also detect tactile and force information using sensors on its manipulators, which it uses to intelligently plan movements, guiding the motion of its arms when a human pushes or pulls them. These systems allow WENDY to work in close proximity to people without injuring them.

WENDY stands 147cm (4’9″) tall, weighs 161kg (355 lbs), and has a total of 52 DOF (2 hands x13, 2 arms x7, neck x4, eyes x3, body x3, wheels x2). It uses stereo CCD cameras for environment recognition. Its actions are generated and executed by a proprietary operating system called WENDY-OS. In addition WENDY uses RHICS (Robot Human Interactive Communication System) to automatically generate motions by imitating human beings, which was developed to study verbal and non-verbal communication.  In 2007 a completely redesigned symbiotic robot was unveiled by Sugano Lab called TWENDY-ONE.


Short clip showing WENDY & TWENDY-ONE:


Image credit:
Waseda University Sugano Lab

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