Making its first public appearance at the 12th China Hi-Tech Fair in November 2010, HuiHui (from the characters 慧慧, meaning very clever, but may also be connected to its hometown) is a service robot designed to aid the elderly. By 2015 it is estimated that China’s elderly population will reach 200 million, so the Chinese Academy of Sciences has made the development of assistance robots a key objective. The Knowledge Innovation Project, which launched in 2009, seeks to develop multi-purpose robots for the home, nursing homes, and hospitals that can provide daily living assistance, mental health benefits, safety monitoring, and other services.
HuiHui stands approximately 170cm (5’7″) tall, moves on an omnidirectional base, and has two arms (each with five-fingered hands), to fetch objects for its master upon voice command. The robot grasped and delivered a glass of water and poured a cup of tea in front of thousands of spectators at the expo. It has three types of entertainment functions, allowing it to play music or a game of checkers, and dance. It can also join in the morning’s tai-chi exercises. It comes equipped with a laser range finder on the front of its wheel enclosure, and a ring of ultra sonic range finders around its base.
The robot keeps track of its patient thanks to a special pair of shoes that have sensors in them that can detect if they fall down. The robot will ask if they need help, and sends a text message to the family, hospital, or other community members for a timely rescue.
It was developed under the direction of the Chinese Academy of Sciences by researchers at a number of institutes. The Hefei Institutes of Physical Sciences worked on the context-aware artificial intelligence software, while the Hefei Institute of Advanced Manufacturing Technology provided the overall design including its mechanical and control systems. The Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology handled an exercise monitoring program and the voice recognition software, which can parse different dialects.
Plenty of photos of HuiHui follow after the break, along with a few other robots from the show.
Anhui news | Chuandong | China Hi-Tech Fair | China Daily | JCheng