So you want a household robot and you have $15000 burning a hole in your pocket? Why not take the plunge with Mitsubishi’s Wakamaru, a robot designed for family life! He runs according to your life rhythms, updating as he comes in contact with you. For example, why use that annoying alarm clock to wake up in the morning when you can have a robot enter your room, roll up beside your bed, and tell you it’s time to get up?
Wakamaru is able to understand 10,000 words common to daily life. He has face recognition technology which allows him to recognize 2 individuals in the household as his owners, as well as up to 8 other people, simply by looking at them. If you dislike the name Wakamaru, you can name him whatever you want and he will respond to that name. He can follow you around the house and has built-in collision detection sensors to avoid obstacles, people, or pets.
Staying connected to the internet at all times, he can keep you up-to-date on the latest news. For example, ask him what the weather is like and he may respond,”There is a 40% chance of rain today, so you may want an umbrella.” What makes him unique is that you don’t have to ask him questions or give him orders, he will act spontaneously on his own. If you leave a message for a loved one, he will search for them and when he finds them, he’ll fill them in.
An omni-directional camera atop its head gives Wakamaru a wide field of vision. He uses this view to navigate your household according to maps he generates in his memory. Forget about conventional security systems; Wakamaru patrols your house and if he notices strange movements when he knows no one should be home, he will report to you via your cellphone. And if no one contacts him within a reasonable time according to the usual schedule, Wakamaru will contact you to make sure everything is OK.
If you’re feeling a little homesick and want to keep in touch with your kids while away on a business trip, you can control him and view your house through his cameras via cellphone or laptop. And since he can operate for 2 full hours before needing a charge (and will autonomously return to his charging station when low on juice) there’s little maintenance required. I want one, if only because his bright yellow body would go well with my raincoat.
At Robo Japan 2008 (Oct 10-13th), Wakamaru was shown with a human handler that controlled its arm movements using a wire controller stimulated by his muscle movements. Wakamaru made headlines just one month earlier when he was rented by Uniqlo’s SoHo (NY) store, performing friendly meet-and-greet operations.
Unfortunately, Wakamaru was not well received by initial buyers, since it lacks the ability to perform household chores or nursing duties. Mitsubishi now rents the robot and has outlined its plans to grow demand by appealing to a variety of sectors outside the home; including use as a teaching aid for preschoolers or as a promotional tool for businesses. Although Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is being consolidated, Wakamaru appears to have weathered the storm (for now).
- Wakamaru (official site JP/EN)
- Wakamaru @ Toshiyuki Kita’s portfolio (JP/EN)
- Wakamaru @ Impress Robot Watch (JP) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
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Impress Robot Watch | Robofes