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HRP-2 Promet Balances, Japanese Robotics Slide?

AIST’s bipedal humanoid robot HRP-2 Promet is one of the robots on hand at the Japanese pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010.  In this photo dated March 19th, the robot shows its balance by standing on one foot.  A big part of Japan’s display at the expo are robots designed to help people; robots like Toshiba’s ApriPoco that interact with home appliances through verbal commands, to robots that can move heavy objects.  Mitsubishi’s Wakamaru, Subaru’s cleaning robot that can navigate office buildings and use the elevator, as well as Cyberdyne’s HAL robotic suit are being demonstrated.

[source: Sankei News (JP)]

It’s fairly notable that none of the robots on display at the Japanese pavilion are new, given that earlier this week Prof. Kazuhiro Kosuge of Tohoku University gave a lecture on Japan losing its edge in the field of robotics.  The gist of his talk is that Japan has been too focused on humanoid robots and not on more practical robots.  He pointed to the increasing numbers of research papers submitted from China, and that nations such as Canada, Britain, and South Korea are closing the robotics gap – all while the number of papers from Japan are dwindling.  The number of papers is related to funding, and he pointed to Henrik Christensen’s CCC / CRA Robotics Roadmap, which shows that robotics receives much higher levels of funding in the EU and South Korea than in Japan:

European Union:

  • Cognitive Systems & Robotics: 600M Euros

South Korea:

  • 21st Century Frontier Program: 1.25B USD

Japan:

  • Service Robotics: 100M USD

He also pointed to the success of U.S. companies like Kiva Systems, which has grown to 120 employees thanks to its warehouse robots, and Raytheon’s Exoskeleton.

[source: Impress PC Watch (JP)]

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