Friday, November 30, 2007

2007 International Robot Exhibition: seeing the light in the practical use of robots



We all got used to the vast difference between the kind of future Hollywood has been promising us for years and what this future looks like today. Can any of us have a fun ride on one of those cool personal flying vehicles we seen so many times? Has any of us beamed himself from work to the gym lately? I don't think so. Most of us are still driving fuel engine highly polluting wheels and the future is not really here, but still, it seems to be getting at least a bit closer. In contrast to most robots any of us ever saw and even to the extravagant showcase they put up in 2005, the 2007 International Robot Exhibition opened this Wednesday in Tokyo Japan emphasizes real usage options of robots and features quite a few of them designed to be used in everyday life.



Tatsuo Matsuzaki, an official at Kokoro Company Ltd., showing off a dental patient robot named Simroid that mumbles a Humanoidic "ouch" when the drill hits a nerve (see video below), says we can already "see the light in the practical use of robots". Shoichi Hamada, a senior official at the Japan Robot Association said that two years after the 2005 Expo which showed "the future of life with robots" we have no came to a point where it's time to see how we can actually use them. "Now practical application of robots is in sight," Hamada told AFP. "Many companies here are in a position to let people see what the robots can actually do at this stage of technology."



Approximately 200 companies and more than 50 future looking organizations from across the world are taking part in the four days event, practically the most interesting robot show anyone can offer nowadays. According to a recent report by Macquarie Bank quoted in TechnologyReview Japan is an industrial robot powerhouse, with over 370,000 in use in 2005 about 40 percent of the global total and 32 robots for every 1,000 Japanese manufacturing employees.

Soon coming robots according to timesonline.uk:
  • Steps: Honda has a humanoid that can run up stairs
  • Exercise: The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has designed a robot that can demonstrate exercises
  • Guide: Hitachi has a robot that uses sophisticated radar to lead visitors through crowds to their destination
  • Safety: Taisei has a robot that will enter a building and remove asbestos by remote control
  • Nurse: The University of Shiga is close to perfecting a robot that lifts people from beds into wheelchairs. The Riken Research Institute is developing an endoscopic surgery robot that follows voice commands to pass instruments to the human surgeon
  • Words: The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology has a robot capable of learning sign language. Tokyo University of Science has built one capable of reproducing mouth movements and should, researchers say, soon be able to mimic human speech

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