Gifu Prefectural Research Institute of Manufacturing Information Technologies (Gifu Industries) developed three small humanoid robots called Nagara, named after a river in the area, from 2001 to 2005. Although specifically created to compete in RoboCup soccer, the robots were also conceived as partner robots for everyday life. In recent years, it has been reported that children aren’t getting enough exercise, so they could be used to help make exercise fun for children. Other potential uses include the transport of goods, or security (patrolling an area). Therefore they were given facial expression recognition technology and simple speech functions.
The third version was unveiled in 2004 sporting a sleek, light blue exoskeleton. It stands 110cm tall, weighs 25kg, and has 29 DOF (6 per leg, 6 per arm, 2 in waist, 2 in neck, 1 in head), with a battery life of 30 minutes. This version is able to detect human motion by the relative positions of the head and hands and copy the movements with its own arms. It was also capable of estimating the position of the soccer ball in relation to itself. In 2005 two Nagara-3s were displayed at the Aichi World Expo, where they demonstrated their ability to walk, kick the ball, and imitate human gestures. A short video of it kicking a ball and some photos follow…