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• Kiyomori

Making its debut in December 2005, TMSUK’s bipedal robot Kiyomori (T10-2 KIYOMORI) was developed to be a public relations robot with the help of Waseda University’s Prof. Atsuo Takanishi.  It seems the robot was named after Taira no Kiyomori, who in the 12th century established the first samurai-based government in the history of Japan.  Its armor was custom made by Murataka Sangyo, a company that provides 90% of traditional costumes for NHK television shows (and worked on Akira Kurosawa’s film “Ran”).  It’s a combination of historical and modern Japanese culture.

Kiyomori was born to lead Japanese robots in their quest to set the world standard and its position as the flagship of the new robot civilization.  It can execute a wide range of natural looking actions due to an incredible number of 39 joints within its frame, and bend and stretch its knees when walking. It can also sit and stand.

Kiyomori stands 160cm (5’3″) tall (an extra 25cm if you count the helmet), weighs 74kg (163 lbs), and has 39 degrees of freedom.  Takanishi Lab’s robot pelvis design with 2 DOF, first implemented in their robot WABIAN, was also used in Kiyomori which allows straight-legged walking that gives it a more natural gait.  It is able to walk at speeds of 0.5~1km per hour, for up to 15 minutes on its NiH battery.  During demonstrations, it would give a short speech and conclude by sitting on a general’s traditional folding stool.

Kiyomori made a trip to the Bordeaux Wine Festival 2006 and Wired Nextfest 2007.  In 2008, TMSUK did some walking experiments in a couple of public venues, where it was able to walk up and down slopes of up to 4.5 degrees and handle ground height deviations of up to 1cm.  The idea was to test and improve the practicality of humanoid robots outside of lab environments.  During these experiments they removed his armor to lighten the load by about 5kg (11 lbs).  While Kiyomori may not be the most impressive robot, it’s certainly one of the more unusual robots ever made.

Kiyomori isn’t the only samurai robot, since then at least a couple of other examples have appeared (see here and here).

[source: Kiyomori website (JP)] & [TMSUK, Kiyomori page (JP)]

Video (walking experiments):

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Video (news report):

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