Waseda University’s WE-R4 and iSHA on display
On August 23rd Waseda University, the birthplace of the first real humanoid robots, held the opening ceremony for the New RT Frontier (RT = Robot Technology). The building is located in Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku ward, Tokyo (about an 8 minute walk from Waseda Station Subway Tozai Line) and replaces the old RT Frontier building found near the university campus. The primary purpose of the New RT Frontier’s first floor is to showcase the fruits of the university’s state-of-the-art robotics research to the public.
The building will be open to the public once a month (and will take special requests depending on the availability of the research staff), so you’ll want to plan ahead. The main attraction will likely be the humanoid robots designed to assist the elderly and disabled in a super-aging society, including several we have covered on this website (such as iSHA). However there are several other (some might say less glamorous) examples of robotic rehabilitation equipment to view and interact with, including walkers, treadmills, and bio-medical tools. For example, a treadmill designed to treat patients with hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body, often due to stroke) can help train them to walk again with varying speeds for either leg.
Another example is a potentially life-saving portable medical device called FAST (short for Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma) which allows EMTs to perform ultrasound exams inside of an ambulance on the way to the hospital. On September 30th, members of the public are invited to come and learn about projects from the Fujie Lab (such as their minimally-invasive surgical robots). In the future, the university plans to expand into robots for disaster response (in the event of an earthquake, for example) in response to rising public demand.
Waseda University’s Global Robot Academia program has ties to schools in America, Germany, and Egypt, as well as the Center for Intelligent Robotics (CIR) at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) and the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies of Pisa, Italy. You can see more photos and videos of the robots on display at the previous building (including the expressive humanoid KOBIAN) at this 2009 article from Impress Robot Watch and new photos at the Impress PC Watch article linked to below.
All photos by Kazumichi Moriyama.