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• Robovie R-2

ROBOVIER2-headersmATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories and Vstone teamed up to create a communication robot called Robovie R-2 (vie = life). Combining many areas of ATR’s research (artificial intelligence, pathfinding, speech synthesis, and speech recognition) with Vstone’s technical experience and manufactured parts was an easy fit for the key individuals involved, such as Higarashi Ishiguro (creator of the famous Geminoid android) because they also teamed up to make the humanoid soccer champions as Team Osaka.

Robovie R-2 has performed as a museum guide robot – assigning it this function allowed the researchers a chance to study human-robot interactions. One of the major problems facing communication robots is the delay between hearing and responding. It became clear that the robot would need to be connected to a network of computers to make for quicker response time to lessen the frustrating gaps in conversation.

Field trials were conducted at the Ohara Museum of Art, where Robovie R-2 Ver 2 would guide visitors through exhibits, stopping to give relevant commentary about the history of an artist or work. The researchers found that the Robovie’s body language, such as his head tilting, nodding, and his arms waving, had a major impact on how people interacted with it.

Experiments are also being conducted that would allow Robovie to take on an elder care role. Without needing to be approached or requested by an elderly person, the robot should take the initiative and help out on its own. Part of the solution requires adequate facial recognition, so that the robot can see if a person is looking in its direction. That way, it can focus its attention on someone who may need its assistance.

ATR has developed several different versions of the Robovie, including versions with soft, sensitive skin.  This particular version sells for 5,040,000 JPY ($53,000 USD). In March 2010, ATR revealed a small version of the Robovie called robovie-mR2.

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Image credits:
Vstone | Impress Robot Watch

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