Nico without his usual Yale sweatshirt
Nico is an upper-body humanoid robot developed at Yale University’s Social Robotics Lab, under the direction of Brian Scassellati (who cut his teeth on MIT’s Cog and Kismet). Originally built circa 2004 to mimic the proportions of a one year old child, it has continued to serve as a research platform ever since.
Nico uses a similar mechanical set-up to the aforementioned bots, with a simple head (featuring two cameras per eye for wide and narrow fields of vision), a pair of arms, and a torso bolted to a table. Microphones for speech recognition are placed apart from the robot’s body, along with a bank of sixteen computers used for image processing and other tasks. Its body (such that it is) has a total of 22 degrees of freedom (head x6, 2 arms x6, right hand x2, back and waist x2).
In 2007, Nico was touted as the first robot to recognize itself in a mirror. Scassellati referred to the trick as “this dumb simple algorithm”. Basically, Nico could classify what it was seeing as “self”, “other”, or “neither”. While it was not exactly the eureka moment it was made out to be in the press, it’s a start.
Robot Expo Korea 2012 attracted more than 20,000 visitors last week in the city of Gwanju. Around 1,600 students from elementary, middle and high schools competed in the 14th International Robot Olympiad. There were robot soccer, dance, and design competitions. In addition a trade fair took place where a total of 47 companies presented their products and technology, including vacuum cleaners, artificial fish, rovers, agricultural robots and educational kits.
To be honest there isn’t much to report, since there were few humanoids on display other than the Robotis DARwIn-OP and Robobuilder kits. However, one new guide robot made an appearance. It was developed by Junsung E&R (a company formed in 2005 that specializes in renewable energy technology), and bears a striking resemblance to a certain Pixar robot character.
Hm… Robots don’t appear to be the company’s strong suit. Not that it matters; South Korea is overflowing with simple guide robots as it is! A selection of photos is tucked after the break.
[source: Robot Expo 2012] via [Gwanju Info (KR)]
Another week, another set of robot videos to watch. First we’ve got a new television commercial airing in Japan featuring seven Vstone Tichnos (humanoid robots developed specifically to promote stores and products). They’re modeling a new line of durable school bags from Nitori, but it’s their Vocaloid singing voices which have caused something of a stir among audiences who are wondering if it is really Hatsune Miku’s voice.
[source: Nitori movie @ YouTube] via [Jcast (JP)]