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Hitachi’s EMIEW 2 Continues To Evolve

We’re big fans of Hitachi’s office assistant robot EMIEW 2, and today the company announced that it has been given some upgrades.

The compact robot now uses the internet to help it recognize objects in addition to its database of existing image references.  When shown an object, EMIEW 2 can take a snapshot with its camera and perform a quick online search for similar images to help it determine what the object is.

And thanks to a new network of cameras positioned throughout the office space, EMIEW 2 can locate specific objects and guide people to them.  Using speech recognition, you can ask for an object by name and it will automatically try to find one for you.  In the following demonstration, the EMIEW 2 recognizes a camera sight unseen and locates a pair of scissors squirreled away in a corner.

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Finally, EMIEW 2 now moves more smoothly through turns.  This development builds on an upgrade from 2010, when the robot was given shock-absorbing legs for smoothly moving over bumps in the floor.  Previously, the robot had to lower its speed when it was about to change direction due to the large centrifugal forces involved.  Now, even when it is approaching steep or continuous curves it doesn’t need to slow down due to a predictive model that offsets the centrifugal forces.  Combined with its maximum speed of 6 km/h (equivalent to a brisk walk), the EMIEW 2 can now better guide its human charges.

A company rep said that he believes, with further improvements, the robot will be able to help people, such as in hospitals or the home in the future.  More photos follow after the break.

[source: Hitachi press release (JP)] & [NHK (JP)]

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Image credit:
Hitachi | AFP/Yoshikazu Tsuno