The Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies of Pisa recently showcased some of their projects for the media. Included in the presentation was the Sabian humanoid, codeveloped with Waseda University (based on the Wabian). It’s part of “The Robot Companions for Citizens” project, which is one of six research projects competing for a billion euros ($1.2B USD) in funding from the European Union. That’s a huge chunk of change, which will be doled out over the course of the next ten years. Currently the humanoid lacks arms and uses the child-like Robot Cub (iCub) head, which looks slightly bizarre on an adult-sized body.
“The idea is to get robots out of factories where they have shown their worth and to transform them into household machines which can live together with humans,” said Professor Dario, director of the college’s bio-robotics department.
Also on display was the Dustcart robot, which runs around town collecting garbage bags where large dump trucks cannot go. According to Pericle Salvini, one of the project’s team members, the robot has been tested for two months with fifteen families participating. “First of all it is slow for security reasons and it sometimes blocks the traffic. Also it cannot legally be on the road since there is no type of insurance for this type of robot in case of an accident,” he said.
Marco Controzzi from the college’s Institute of Biorobotics demonstrated a bionic arm which is controlled by electrodes attached to the skin or implanted in your head. It reacts to your intentions and can operate on just two mobile phone batteries.
Finally, researchers are also working on the “Body Extender”, which is worn like a suit and can multiply an operator’s lifting strength by 20 times. The robotic exoskeleton, which weighs 160 kg (353 lbs) and sports 22 degrees of freedom, has been in development for three years and costs about a million euros. It could be used in a variety of situations, such as after an earthquake or other disaster.
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