Toshiba unveiled a new autonomous 2-wheeled robot at the Toshiba Science Museum on March 10, 2010. The robot was designed to help out around the home so it is small enough to fit into tight spaces and nimble enough to handle small changes in floor height. It carts things atop its cute little head, sort of like the equivalent of a butler version of an R2 unit. While certainly not mind-blowing or innovative (see Sanyo’s Flatthru from 2003), I could see these being used as waiters in high class restaurants or at Kora’s Robot Land (though they’d probably need a larger serving tray).
It maintains its balance using the inverse pendulum method made famous by the Segway, but it has a pair of small retractable wheels which can be lowered when necessary. It appears to be equipped with stereo vision in its head and a laser range finder in its chest, which it uses to avoid obstacles. The robot’s name is Wheelie, but it certainly fits with the established design aesthetic of their line of “Advanced Personal Robots with Intelligence” (see ApriAlpha, ApriPoco, ApriAttenda, ApriAttenda ver.2). A few stills from the video follow after the break.