Samsung has teamed up with the KIST (Korean Institute of Science and Technology) to make a humanoid robot called Mahru. The goal of the project is to have a robot that can do simple chores in the home or hospital (such as delivering food and beverages to the elderly or bedridden patients) by 2015. The names Mahru (마루) and Ahra (아라) originate from ancient Korean words for “top” and “wisdom”, respectively.
The original blue Mahru was first demonstrated to the public in March 2005, touted as the first network-based humanoid. It has the ability to recognize faces, voices, objects and gestures, and can read printed Hangul, even when the book is presented upside-down. The robot is wirelessly connected to a network of computers, sending the data it collects from its sensors and cameras’ vision. The computers then tell the robot what to do (termed distributed intelligence). This scalable approach allows the researchers to quickly and easily add and test various functions, without the need for a sophisticated on-board computer.
Later that year, KIST unveiled a second humanoid called Ahra, which was colored orange and given a female voice. It was virtually identical to its brother Mahru, but was used to demonstrate that the two robots could communicate and share information through a common network. In practice, one can imagine a hospital with several robots (each performing its own tasks), controlled remotely over the network.
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