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Looking Back On Samsung’s Lost Personal Robots (part 2)

iMaro-2 (left) & iMaro-1 (right)

In 2002, four separate teams at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) began development on a robot code-named SHR (Samsung Home Robot).  The SHR-00 (iMaro-1) and SHR-50  (iMaro-2) were small household robots shown at the same time as those mentioned in the previous article.  However, these robots suffered unstable behaviors such as missing user commands and stuttered movement, so during the development of the SHR-100 SAIT brought on researchers from POSTECH (Pohang University of Science and Technology) to refine the robot’s control program.

SHR-100 & prototype April in October 2002

Following those robots, Samsung unveiled the iMaro-3 at the 2nd Korea International Robot Technology Exhibition (KIROTEC 2005) under the banner “Robot is another family member”.  When a user called “come” to the robot, it would determine the direction of the user’s voice and turn towards them.  Recognizing the user’s face with its camera, it would move up to them and stop within one meter.  It could also follow the user by using its camera and light sensors.  The user could command the robot to stop at any time by simply saying “stop”.  Furthermore, users could control the robot and retrieve images from its camera using a PDA.  When left alone, the robot could patrol your house using a map generated by SLAM, and automatically send reports if something strange was detected.

Two cup holders and magazine slots on either side of the iMaro-3 meant it could be used as a delivery robot.  It could also connect to the internet through wireless LAN to fetch information, so it could serve as a general guide or information robot.  This hinted at the direction Samsung would later take, partnering with Dasatech to produce an even larger version called the iMaro ISR (Intelligent Service Robot), also sometimes referred to as Daheen.  The iMaro ISR was actually put into service in airports and other venues.

The iMaro-3 stood 75cm (2’5″)  tall, weighed 30kg (66 lbs) and came equipped with a front camera (face recognition, user following, remote surveillance), a ceiling camera (map building, self-positioning), 8 sound localization microphones, and a speaker.  It had an 8.4″ LCD touch screen and a built-in Pentium 4 2.4GHz CPU.  It was able to move at up to 70cm/s, using a combination of an infrared sensor, 6 sonar sensors, 5 position sensitive devices, and bumper sensors for obstacle detection.  It would dock to its charging station autonomously when it needed to recharge.

Although Samsung would continue to show these robots at events, these specific robots were never commercialized and it appears all development has since shifted to their line of robot vacuum cleaners.  Samsung’s interest in robotics also led them to partner with KIST on the development of full-size humanoid robots (see Mahru, Mahru 2, and Mahru 3), which are amongst the most advanced in the world.

Watch a video of iMaro-3 and see more photos after the break, or click here to see part 1 of our look back at Samsung’s lost robots, including the iComaro, ANTOR, and a robot pooch.

[sources: Samsung, Hyunam, BlogMSN, Roboman, PCBee (KR)]

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