Hitachi is probably best known for their televisions and home theater equipment, but like most tech-savvy Japanese corporations, they’ve also got an interest in robotics. EMIEW (which stands for Excellent Mobility and Interactive Existence as Work-mate) balances on wheels using technology similar to the Segway. As such, it can move faster and is somewhat more stable than bipedal robots (capable of traveling at 3.7mph [6kmh]) and has a reaction time of 100 miliseconds.
EMIEW was created as part of the Project for the Practical Application of Next-Generation Robots commissioned by the independent administrative agency NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization). It has digital cameras and radar-sensors mounted on its head and torso that allow it to see and avoid bumping into obstacles. Hitachi hopes to sell even more advanced versions of the EMIEW by 2010, though they haven’t announced anything yet.
At the 2005 World Expo held in Aichi Japan, two EMIEW robots named “Pal” and “Chum” (gotta love that) preformed with a clown to demonstrate their mobility and ability to interact with people. In March of 2006, an EMIEW robot used its speech recognition and synthesis technology to temporarily fill in as a hotel clerk at the Grand Tokyo Bay Hotel.
The EMIEW has since been replaced by the more compact EMIEW-2.
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