Tokyo University’s IRT Research Institute has several projects in the works, including a personal mobility device and home assistance robot for the elderly. On December 4th 2008, they unveiled a new robot called Mamoru, which is being developed to help forgetful geriatrics find their misplaced pills at medicine time, or simply point out lost slippers.
The robot is 40cm tall and weighs 3.8kg. It has only 4 DOF (neck x2, 2 arms x1), which allows its head to look around, and flap its simple, penguin-like limbs. Since its main purpose is to be an extra pair of eyes and ears around the house, the real meat and potatoes is its vision system, which can detect objects regardless of rotation, scale, or lighting condition using SIFT (Scale Invariant Feature Transform).
Primarily developed by Fujitsu, Mamoru’s eyes have motion detection and pattern matching, such as face and gesture recognition. He also has a 16-channel microphone for listening to your nervous murmurs of where the hell did I leave that damned remote? and can respond cheerfully with a speaker port.
To help with your dwindling memory, Mamoru has a database which stores the location of objects within a three-dimensional virtual model of your living space. If, for example, you put away your medication in the second from the top drawer of your cupboard, the robot will watch you doing this and store that information in its own memory banks, so you don’t have to.
Of course, Mamoru is networked with IRT’s Home Assistance Robot and personal mobility devices so that they can work in tandem to help around the house. Mamoru might know where a desired object is, but the Home Assistance Robot will fetch it. All of this is still in the early stages of development, but IRT has lofty goals for the project over the next 10 to 20 years.
- Tokyo University (official site JP/CH/KR/EN)
- Tokyo IRT Research Institute (official site JP) (EN)
- Mamoru @ Impress Robot Watch (JP)
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