ETRI’s previous household robots, the ROMI and Wever R1, were followed by the koala robot Coby and rabbit-like RABIE in 2007. The penguin-shaped POMI took things a step further in 2008. All of these were developed under the supervision of Dr. Jo Young Jo, who had previously worked on KAIST’s centaur-like robot Cento in 1997.
POMI served as a development platform for face recognition, speaker recognition, sound direction detection, and user position tracking software. Around five of their patented technologies were later commercialized in South Korea’s burgeoning robotics industry (transferred to robots by Samsung and Yujin Robot). It is equipped with a camera and microphone, as well sensors for obstacle detection including an ultrasonic range finders, a laser range finder, and ambient light sensors.
In order to be as friendly as possible, POMI is able to mimic a variety of expressions using many moving parts in its head (eyes, eyelids, eye brows, lips) as well as colorful LEDs in its face. It also possesses a large touch screen in its chest which can be used for educational or entertainment media. Those features are becoming more and more widespread, but POMI has some other tricks which are rather unusual.
For example, it has a nozzle which can spray two different fragrances meant to communicate happiness or sadness. Its wiggly arms are soft and pliable, so that it won’t hurt you if it accidentally hits you. And what is likely the world’s first example of a robot heart, a vibrating device in the left side of its chest gives it a built-in heart beat (which can be felt with the palm of your hand) that changes based on its “emotions”.
ETRI has demonstrated POMI as recently as the 2009 Hannover Messe. More photos and a video follow after the break.