Panasonic’s latest EVOLTA robot (EVOLTA Traveler) got the star treatment at a press conference today in Japan, before tomorrow’s departure on a 500km (310 mile) journey from Tokyo to Kyoto. The robot, which was designed to look like a traveler hauling a two-wheeled cart, is powered by a total of 12 rechargeable AA batteries which will be recharged once per day. Panasonic’s new rechargeable batteries have a life of between 1,200 and 1,600 charges, and don’t suffer typical memory effects. Hitches notwithstanding, the robot will be on the road from September 23rd until December 10th.
Traveling along the historical 53 Stations of Tokaido, the team hopes the robot will be able to make it from one resting spot to another before nightfall. Like last year’s EVOLTA Car (which set a Guinness World Record at Le Mans race course in France) it navigates by using an infrared sensor (located in the carriage’s handlebar) that tracks an infrared emitting device held by a person moving ahead of it. However, this version is about three times faster (2~3 kmph) than the previous one due to the long distance they hope to cover. The robot is approximately 40cm long, 15 cm wide, and 20cm tall and weighs about 1kg.
The robot’s creator, Tomotaka Takahashi (ROBO-GARAGE) said, “There will be many unexpected challenges, but we hope to overcome any problems and keep traveling. At Le Mans the course was clear and flat; here we have to deal with slopes which requires more battery power.” The entire quest will be broadcast live on Ustream and regular Twitter updates, and on the official website. Videos and many photos follow after the break.
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