There must be a fundamental perceptual difference when it comes
to robots in Japan (as opposed to robots from the rest of the world),
because there seems to be a tendency there to totally ignore the whole
Uncanny Valley issue so many of us get hung up on. Take Telenoid R1,
The idea behind the design of Telenoid R1 makes a lot of sense.
The robot is intended for remote telepresence and communication,
and as such, it’s supposed to distill a human form into just the essential
communicative elements. So, you’ve got a face that’s intended to be
featureless and asexual, stumpy little arm things, and a soft torso with
no legs. But really?
Telenoid R1 comes from Hiroshi Ishiguro (who you probably
remember for his not quite as creepy Geminoid F). Inside, it’s got
nine actuators that will mimic the arm, face, and head motions of
the user who’s communicating through the robot (via a motion-capture webcam). We’re not sure, though, that the Telenoid R1 will
actually enable users to “feel as if an acquaintance in the distance
is next to you” as the developers assert. In any case, it is going on
sale, and you can expect to pay $34K for the research version,
and $8K for a general-purpose version.
WAY TO ROLL
Training younger children to use a wheelchair can be difficult and
requires a therapist to take them step by step. Dr. Laura Marchal-Crespo
and a team at the University of California at Irvine have developed ROLY
(RObot-assisted Learning for Young drivers) so that no assistance is
required and the kids can learn at their own pace. The chair uses haptic
guidance to follow a line on the floor using computer vision while the
child determines how much control of the joystick is needed.
The University of Leeds has recruited a robotic submarine to
explore a river under the sea.Apparently the body of water is large
enough to be the sixth largest river on (under) the planet. The 23 foot
long yellow sub carries a camera to explore what life
may be hidden in the depths.
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