WHAT’S UP WITH Mi-Ro?
This little cutie is a multi-media communication robot called Mi-Ro that was developed
by Fujitsu. Mi-Ro was basically a head with stereo cameras attached to a PC base that
could be used to study computer vision, among other topics. It’s quite possible that it
was initially developed to compete with the likes of NEC’s PaPeRo, Hitachi’s AV Mascot,
and Toshiba’s ApriAlpha. Details are sketchy at best, but it’s clear that some of the
hardware components developed for Mi-Ro were fed directly into the third model of
Fujitsu’s humanoid research platform (HOAP) which was released in 2005.
It’s possible that Mi-Ro may be connected to a communication robot from the
Kanagawa Institute of Technology (KAIT). The similarities in both aesthetics and
capabilities are striking, given the general shape, vent placement, and LED irises that ring
the camera eyes. The
main difference is that it
has rudimentary arms
and an LCD touch
screen. KAIT’s robot was developed to be a fun partner for the
elderly (and to help prevent dementia). Software allowed you
to edit MIDI files and add lyrics through a simple touch
interface, while a speech synthesizer called SMARTTALK would
generate a singing voice. Songs could then be saved and output
as WAVE files with robot gestures and expressions
synchronized to the beat. Whether Mi-Ro was later adopted at
KAIT, and what happened to the software, remain a mystery.
Tomotaka Takahashi of Robo-Garage is helping to design a 30-40 cm
humanoid to be unveiled February 2012 and sent into space in
2014. To get things started, the Kibo (which means hope in Japanese)
Robot Project has its own website where ordinary humans can
submit audio recordings and Tweets with ideas for what he should
be named and what he should say once he has been sent to the
Interneational Space Station (ISS).
When the Atlantis made its final flight last month, it brought a robotic
refueling mission along to determine the best way to refuel satellites in
space.After Dextre attaches to the exterior of the ISS, the remote
controlled filler-up bot will practice by unsealing them, transferring fluid,
and resealing them for future use. They are hoping for it to be able to do
repairs, as well. If the 12 day RRM is successful, NASA is planning to
literally seal the deal by 2013.
24 SERVO 08.2011