KIST’s Center for Intelligent Robotics (CIR) updated the original Kibo in 2006. Kibo ver.2 is a bipedal female-type robot distinguishable from many small humanoids in that she has an expressive face – she blinks, her eyes can look around, and her lips form various shapes – making her ideal for human-robot interaction research. Furthermore, it can recognize and mimic a person’s facial expressions or form her own such as joy, sorrow, surprise, and anger, and these can be emphasized with body gestures. She has appeared at events where she has met with VIPs including the former president of South Korea.
Kibo ver.2 is much larger and more sophisticated than its predecessor, standing 80cm (2’5″) tall and weighing just under 20kg (44 lbs). The total degrees of freedom have been increased from 24 to 41 (face x15, neck x2, 2 arms x5, 2 hands x1, 2 legs x6). It has stereo cameras in its head for face recognition, and 2 force-torque sensors, and 3 gyro sensors to help keep its balance. This version has 5 fingers per hand, which can open and close to grasp light objects. It is powered by 2 LiPo batteries which appear to be located inside its lower legs for added stability.
Kibo’s actuators are back-drivable to allow humans to physically interact with it (for example, hugging the robot will not damage the arm joints). It can parse simple phrases through speech recognition software handled by an off-board computer and respond in a synthesized voice.
I like the design, but there’s a couple of issues which stand out. The servos in the head aren’t always in sync, which can lead to some unpleasant expressions (a problem I’ve noticed in their Sil-Bot robot, too). And the proportions are off since the legs appear much too large for the upper body. That said, it’s hard to be critical of a little robot that wants nothing more than to hand out flowers, smile, and dance. More photos and an amusing video of Kibo dancing follow after the break.