NEC held a PaPeRo workshop at Osaka’s “Robot Showroom” (August 4th ~ 9th), where a select group of kids got hands-on experience with the robot and its user-friendly programming software developed with the MIT Media Lab. Color-coded “scratch cards” were on hand with illustrations of sample programs (written on the back of each card) that were used to program short skits where PaPeRo sang a song, or performed dance-like motions. The kids were divided into teams and had only 20 minutes to come up with a story and program it into the robot before presenting it to everyone.
Toshiba and its subsidiary Toshibatec developed a pair of robots to assist elderly or disadvantaged shoppers, which they demonstrated during June’s ROBOMEC 2009 (Robotics Mechatronics Conference). The “Guidance robot” can guide you to the cashier or specific items (by product name) while the “Cart robot” carries your groceries for you. Using a system of 10 cameras throughout the store, the robots self-localize and maintain maps of the store and the contents of its aisles to dynamically generate the best paths and avoid running into other shoppers.
The “Guidance robot” has an omni-directional camera atop its “head” as well as front-mounted stereo cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and a laser range finder. Shoppers register themselves through the touch-screen interface, prompting the robot to record their individual shape and texture information (such as clothing) using its stereo cameras. This allows the robot to follow a specific person in a crowded environment. The touch-screen interface also provides information on goods and special sales.
The AIBO ERS-220 debuted in November 2001 (available also as an upgrade kit for the ERS-210). With its multicolored 21 LED-laden head and antennae, this AIBO’s canine ancestry is barely recognizable. The camera, which is normally hidden in the nose in other models, is prominently featured like the eye of a cyclops. One of its most unusual features is its retractable head light, which pops up when it gets “excited”. It could also understand 75 voice commands (as opposed to the ERS-210′s 50). It’s not the most cuddly thing, but if high-tech is what you’re after then the ERS-220 delivers. As they did with the ERS-110, SONY commissioned a famous artist to design it, this time getting Shoji Kawamori to do the honors.