You may remember that a group called Matec Yao in Yao city, Osaka, has been working to generate interest in science and technology through robotics (see RURO & this recycling robot). RURO was the result of their “make a dream come true” campaign to let elementary school students design a robot, and some of its technology has been transferred to this one.
Fujiwara Electronic Industries, based in the same city, has created the service robot based on the kids’ drawings to entertain customers in restaurant lobbies. The robot may not be able to hold one’s attention for long, since it has only around 20 phrases in its repertoire, which it can mix with simple gestures. But at the very least it can help get you started on the menu through its 7″ LCD screen, which could also be used to provide other information, variety games, or product advertisements. It detects when customers enter or leave using a CCD camera, and can be remotely controlled if necessary. Using a special dispenser, it can also provide tissue packs, which are often used in Japan as handouts to advertise stores or products.
It may also serve as a simple security guard using its “house-sitting” mode. If anyone enters its line of sight, it can fire off a message with a still image to let you know. It can store up to 5 days’ worth of video stills when in this mode, but it would seem a standard security system would be more effective. While there are no concrete plans, the robot may be commercialized if there is enough demand, but no price tag was given.
[source: Robonable (JP)]