Remember Hitachi’s little helper robot, EMIEW 2 (Excellent Mobility and Interactive Existence as Work-mate)? It’s been a couple of years since we heard anything regarding the project and we feared the worst. Hitachi has put those fears to rest by holding a news conference to show off its new enhanced voice recognition and driving performance!
Known primarily for its unique legs which have wheels for feet, EMIEW 2 can drive at up to 6km/h to keep pace with people. If it needs to carry something it can kneel down (for added stability) and scoot around, and thanks to its bipedal legs it can step over obstacles that are too high to drive over. Now it has been given adaptive suspension control technology which increases its stability when driving over bumpy terrain such as elevator doors. During the press demonstration, EMIEW 2’s springy legs bobbed independently as it drove over cables and uneven flooring.
In addition EMIEW 2’s speech recognition has been upgraded, so that it can perform three-dimensional sound source estimation using the 14 microphones mounted in its helmet. Noise-cancellation (including its own interference) allows the robot to recognize voice commands in noisy locations, which is important because practical applications for EMIEW 2 include operating as a guide robot in museums and shopping malls, or serving guard duty by patrolling offices and hospitals.
Originally revealed in late 2007, EMIEW 2 is the much smaller version of the original EMIEW (from 2005). It has a laser range finger located in its neck region which allows it to map its environment and predict the movements of people in its path. The robot measures 80cm (31″) tall and weighs 14kg (30 lbs), with a total of 25 degrees of freedom. Its battery allows it to operate for 1.5 hours per charge, and Hitachi plans to demonstrate the robot at Hitachi uVALUE Convention 2010 (July 22-23rd).
A few more videos courtesy of K. Moriyama follow after the break.