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Innorobo 2012: Recap

The unfortunate timing of our technical issues left us unable to cover Innorobo 2012, already one of the biggest robotics conventions in Europe with only two years under its belt.  It’s all over now, having run March 14th~16th, but it’s worth taking a look back at some of the robots that made appearances.

Unfortunately the majority of the robots from France were the same from last year’s conference.  The Robot Studio brought out their musculoskeletal cyclops ECCERobot, and ROBOPEC showed off its unusual “PCBot” REETI.  Gostai once again presented JAZZ, their telepresence solution.  EOS Innovation of France was showing off the e-viligante, a small surveillance robot (last year we covered their home telepresence robot E-One).  Sadly Aldebaran Robotics, which is today arguably the most influential robotics company from France, wasn’t ready to introduce their full-size biped Romeo to the public.

From Barcelona, PAL Robotics brought out REEM – which they spuriously claim is “the first commercially available humanoid service robot”.  Also from Spain, AISoy Robotics demonstrated their robotic pet AISoy1.

Engineered Arts, the makers of the RoboThespian have created a new entertainment robot called SociBot.  Rather than having small individual screens for each eye and a clap-trap mouth, SociBot’s translucent plastic face has animated features projected onto its interior.  This creates a seamless, more aesthetically pleasing face with no moving parts.

The Italian Institute of Technology and CoTeSys presented the iCub, which is one of the most advanced humanoids built in Europe to date.

Some of the mainstays of Japanese robotics showed up, including NEC’s PaPeRo, AIST’s therapeutic robot PARO, and Cyberdyne’s HAL exoskeleton.

Toyota brought some Winglets – what could be considered the miniature version of the Segway – for attendees to test drive.  Out of all the small personal mobility vehicles I’ve seen over the past few years, the Winglet looks to be the most fun and practical of the lot.  I do think they should probably remove the upright shaft that fits uncomfortably between the legs in favor of a pop-out handle, though, which would make it look and feel more like a skateboard than a Segway.  Here’s hoping they actually commercialize the thing.

Luckily a veritable invasion of robots from South Korea made the trip, picking up the relative slack from Japan.  Robotis pimped its Bioloid hobby kits, as well as the DARwIn-OP.  Future Robot presented their service robot FURO.  MiniRobot presented their hobby humanoid Metal Fighter.  KIST’s lovable little biped Kibo 2 proved one of the most popular robots at the convention, mugging for the cameras and headlining many of the articles coming out of mainstream media.  KIST also brought along EngKey, their egg-shaped teaching assistant robot.  Yujin Robot had their own teaching assistant, ROBOSEM, and their early childhood edutainment robot iRobiQ.

Also from Korea, Robotech was showing off a strange bear-like edutainment robot.

Last but not least, Willow Garage made the trip across the pond and were showing off the PR2.

Notably absent from this Euro-centric conference were German universities and agencies, which could have included the impressive full-size humanoids LOLA (Technical University Munich) and Justin (DLR).  Earlier this year DLR announced that they had improved Rollin’ Justin’s overall speed and control, and given it the name Agile Justin.

Video:

[source: Innorobo 2012] & [CNN, CBC News]

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