Founded in 1976, ETRI (Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute) presented the Wever R1 in 2005. It was one of several Ubiquitous Robotic Companions (URCs) that were in development in Korea at that time. ETRI’s Intelligent Robot Research Group used it to test human-robot interactions and a wireless home networking system that included sensors and an embedded PC. The idea was to develop and market these technologies for use in all kinds of service robots.
The Wever R1 moved on wheels, was approximately 80cm (2’6″) tall, and weighed 20kg (44 lbs). It was equipped with stereo cameras for face recognition, expression recognition, and position tracking in real-time within 5 meters. It could also recognize your hands, allowing it to play a game of rock-paper-scissors with you. Although it was supposed to be capable of speech recognition and speaker recognition (if there were multiple people in its field of view), these functions were still unreliable after 3 years of development.
Although its practicality remains dubious, the Wever R1 continues to be showcased publicly as part of ETRI’s “Patent Camp”, which gives junior high and high schools a tour of their facilities, and various public exhibits. ETRI also developed a smaller companion robot called the Wever C1 which was supposed to work as a home surveillance robot. It would roll around your house to detect break-ins, gas leaks, fires, etc. and warn the home owner through text messages. You could then take control of the robot through your phone and view the situation from the robot’s camera.
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