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PALRO Gets Apps, Shows Off New Tricks

You can freely download open source applications (PAPPs) for Fuji Soft Inc.’s humanoid robot platform PALRO, and watch video demonstrations, at PALRO Garden. Things are just getting started, but already you will find the following PAPPs:

  • Twitter client (when activated PALRO reads tweets in real-time)
  • Cooking app (containing recipes)
  • Shiritori (a Japanese word game), Tongue Twisters
  • Remote Monitoring (email yourself photos from PALRO’s camera)
  • Daily Horoscopes/Fortunes
  • PALRO’s Little Trip (returns to a remembered location)

Videos show some of the previously demonstrated functions (internet connectivity, photos) and some new stuff.  Among PALRO’s new tricks is its ability to track people and objects, as well as detect obstacles and height differences (ledges) and automatically come to a halt. A camera is located just below its LED face plate, and distance sensors are located in PALRO’s front-facing “ears”.  When verbally commanding PALRO, it has four microphones (two on the chest and two on its back) for sound localization.  PALRO can be told to turn on the spot, or turn by walking to the left or right. In another demonstration, PALRO walks on an uneven mat, autonomously stopping and crouching to avoid falling over. Once it has regained its balance, the robot continues walking.  Interestingly, PALRO seems to kneel whenever an action is completed, which must help save the servos in its knees (and battery life); its legs are designed to conform to this relaxed position.

Video (new functions):

These capabilities may not seem too exciting, but they’re part of what makes PALRO more advanced when compared to standard kits that would have to be modified and programmed.  For example, PALRO is able to walk immediately thanks to the four pressure sensors in the sole of each foot that help it maintain its balance.  Priced at around $3,300 USD, it’s more expensive than many kits out there, but the added functionality and a growing list of free open source apps will make it a very attractive option for robot lovers in the future.  I say in the future, because currently PALRO is only available to educational institutes in Japan, and can only be ordered directly from Fuji Soft Inc..  Hopefully by then FSI will have developed a simple GUI for inexperienced users who want to program it.

Besides responding to a number of voice commands (sit, stand up, check email, volume up, be quiet!,  what time is it, etc.), PALRO can learn to recognize up to 10 individuals.  The simple registration process involves standing in front of the robot and letting it take photos of your face as you make different expressions and tilt your head 30 degrees up and down and left and right.  The final step is to spell out your name and voila, you’re now formally introduced!  PALRO will also connect to the web through wireless LAN to perform system updates from time to time, which will allow the robot to “mature”.  Furthermore, PALRO’s necklace of LEDs can be explained.  The five indicators show:

  1. Wireless LAN status
  2. Battery Power status
  3. Voice Recognition indicator
  4. Operating mode status
  5. Servo Temperature status

A few photos from PALRO’s stint at the Shanghai World Expo follow after the break.

[source: Fuji Soft Inc. (JP)]


Image credit:

Fuji Soft Inc.