PICO GOES STRAIGHT
Researchers at Kyushu University decided to modify their resident
Fujitsu HOAP- 2, and renamed it PICO (proactive interface robot). They
added an entirely new head which increased its height to 64 cm (25”)
and weight to 8. 7 kg ( 19 lbs) and contains a camera, a small LCD screen,
PICO- 2 is one of the few whole-body telepresence robots in existence. The robot’s helmet visor can be retracted allowing
the LCD screen to display the user’s face, and its body reproduces the operator’s gestures or even walking and dancing. This
research was done in 2005, so they didn’t have the benefit of a Kinect sensor, but the general idea is similar and works almost
as well. First, the user’s body position is extracted from its silhouette in images taken with the monocular camera. It then
reconstructs the positions of the arms and legs in simulation using a digital avatar. Finally, the motions of the avatar are sent to
be reproduced on the robot in less than 30 milliseconds, allowing non-verbal communication to happen in (almost) real time.
Ryo Kurazume and Tsutomu Hasegawa also wanted PICO- 2 to perform straight-legged walking. Bipedal robots often walk
with their knees bent, lowering their center of gravity to keep it as steady as possible. This is usually because the joints have a
limited range of motion, and it helps to maintain balance. The problem is this looks rather unnatural to us humans (some have
described ASIMO’s posture as looking like it needs to go to the bathroom).
Surprisingly, only a few examples of straight-legged walking exists in robots (Chroino by ROBO-GARAGE and WABIAN- 2
by Waseda University are two other examples). Walking with straight legs doesn’t just look more natural; it actually improves
the overall efficiency since less torque and energy consumption
are required.After some simulations, they applied their strategy
to the robot and found that it could walk with straight legs; the
energy consumption was cut
roughly in half.
ANDROIDS ANYONE CAN OWN
It didn't take long for the Google Android to appear in wind-up form. Now you can
get a three-pack in green, red, and black to keep others at home or work annoyed. If
you prefer your Android in the dark, there’s an Andrew Bell designed key chain that
will light up your nights (and even help you find your keys).
Cool tidbits herein provided by Evan Ackerman at www.botjunkie.com, www.robotsnob.com, www.plasticpals.com, and other places.
SERVO 08.2011 25