AIST (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology), working with Kawada Industries and other firms in Japan, first demonstrated their HRP (Humanoid Robotics Project) series of robots in 1998. Their ground-breaking work has led to several impressive full sized humanoids.
The first publicly demonstrated robot in the series was actually just a yellow Honda P3 on loan to them from Honda for research purposes. AIST would later modify the P3 through new control software. Later, the addition of an LCD screen into its head that displayed simple facial expressions, and more robust manipulators, allowed the robot to go beyond the P3’s functionality.
The HRP-1S was capable of bipedal walking, climbing stairs, pushing carts, and operating simple levers. In most demonstrations, the robot was tele-operated by a human using a haptic interface. In one of the more impressive demonstrations, the robot was able to operate a construction vehicle on a rainy day. Unlike later models in the HRP series, this version wasn’t waterproof so it was dressed in a protective rain coat. The construction vehicle was completely standard other than a specially designed seat that was molded to fit the robot’s body. Even when subjected to hard vibrations while operating the machine the robot wouldn’t be damaged.
Other areas of research included HRI (human-robot interaction) studies between a mock hospital patient and the robot, where the robot was tele-operated performing rudimentary physiotherapy (simple calisthenics) as well as bringing the bedridden patient a basket from a nearby table.
- HRP-1S press release (Japanese)
- HRP-1S @ Impress Robot Watch
- AIST (official website EN/JP)
- AIST Humanoid Robotics Group (official site EN/JP)
Impress Robot Watch