RUBBED THE ROBOT WAY
What better way to ensure that your massage is exactly how you always like it than by getting a robot to do
it? That’s now possible, courtesy of a new robo-masseuse
that just started work in Singapore.
Called Expert Manipulative Massage Automation — or
Emma, for short — the robot specializes in back and knee
massages. It’s the third Emma model developed, but the
first to be deployed in the real world.
Emma works by using smart sensors to work out how
stiff particular muscles and tendons are, and then figuring
out how much pressure needs to be applied to that area.
“This is the first therapeutic massage robot in the
market, actually working to give therapeutic massages to
real patients at a pain-management clinic, such as those
operated by traditional Chinese medicine physicians,” Albert
Zhang, founder of the Singaporean startup, AiTreat and
inventor of Emma, told Digital Trends.
“Patients who have tried Emma don’t find much
difference between Emma and a human masseuse, because
Emma’s soft silicon tips are heated and shaped similar to the
human thumb and palm. Emma is also able to give a massage
with consistent strength and accuracy — something which
varies between human masseuses, who are also affected by
Emma’s inventor thinks that it will have a place working
alongside humans — for now — since it can help to free up
human experts to concentrate on other forms of treatments,
“One of the hardest challenges we faced was to replicate
some of the massage techniques used by a professional
masseuse in traditional Chinese medicine,” Zhang said. “Each
masseuse has their own style of massage, and we had to
program Emma to mimic them as best as she could —
delivering enough strength to penetrate the muscles to relax
them, but yet not too painful for the patient.”
At present, Emma is working at a health clinic in the
Central Business District in Singapore. The clinic rents Emma
for around $2,200 per month, which is similar to the average
pay of a masseuse in Singapore. While that may seem like a lot
for a machine that can only carry out a fraction of what a
human masseuse can do, it could be worth it if it means more
patients coming through the door.
ROBOT RELIEF IN SITE
In a paper entitled Development of Experimental Legged Robot for Inspection and Disaster Response in Plants, roboticists from Honda R&D showed off the latest prototype of
their disaster relief robot — the E2-DR — at the recent IROS 2017 in Vancouver.
It’s strong, nimble, and can even get rained on without exploding.
So far, Honda has gotten E2-DR to do the following:
(a) Bipedal walking at 4 km/h
(b) Quadrupedal walking at 2. 3 km/h
(c) Stepping over a 200 mm pipe
(d) Frontal transition between ladder and floor
(e) Sideways transition between ladder and floor
(f) Climbing up 200 mm stairs
(g) Quadrupedal walking through an 800 mm walkway
(h) Bipedal walking through a 500 mm walkway
(i) Passing through an 800 mm door
(j) Walking on piled debris
(k) Walking under 26 mm/hour in rain for 20 minutes
(l) Climbing up and down a vertical ladder under 26 mm/h in rain
22 SERVO 12.2017