RIKEN’s Bio-Mimetic Control Research Center, which closed in September 2008, developed a robot named RI-MAN with the aim to create a helper in hospitals and homes. RI-MAN’s main function is to lift bedridden patients so humans don’t have to, but due to its anthropomorphic design, it could be given other tasks as well.
RI-MAN is 158cm tall and weighs 100kg, and has powerful arms capable of lifting 18kg (40 lbs). His body is covered in a soft, spongy material which makes close physical contact safe and comfortable. Additionally, there are pressure sensors located in strategic areas of contact to prevent the robot from squeezing a person too much.
Besides sound localization and face detection, provided by microphone ears and camera eyes, RI-MAN has the ability to detect certain smells using a gas sensor. This sense of smell alerts the robot if a patient urinates while being held in the robot’s arms (though I’m sure the clean-ups are still being done by us lowly humans). TIME listed it in their best inventions of 2006.
RIKEN | Impress Robot Watch