Dec 20 2008

49 Foot Tall ASIMO in Pasedena

A 49-foot-tall replica of Honda’s infamous ASIMO humanoid robot will be a prominent participant in the 2009 Rose Parade. Honda’s float will serve as the parade’s opening ceremony stage and then transform itself into the supersized ASIMO, leading the beloved parade through the streets of Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

Honda’s float creation called ‘Hats Off in Celebration’ will be completed with natural materials like lettuce seed, rice, carnations and strawflower… The Honda float includes a variety of flowers, plants and seeds that will later be ground up for mulch after the parade activities are concluded. The surface of ASIMO will be covered with super fine ground white rice and super fine ground everlasting; it is accented by fine cut blue statice and fine cut red statice as well as silverleaf to create accents and “shadows.

Honda says the giant ASIMO replica is about 12 times the size of the actual ASIMO robot.

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Dec 14 2008

Robots to perform ‘Phantom of the Opera’

A Taiwan university announced yesterday the creation of what could be the world’s first robot theater, which will make its debut on Dec. 27 by performing the musical “The Phantom of the Opera.”

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The theater is comprised of four intelligent robots developed by the Center for Intelligent Robots at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology.

They include a male robot named Thomas and a female robot named Janet, who can walk and are equipped with silicon facial muscles that enable them to mimic the facial expressions and lip motions of a human being. The other two members of the theater are Pica the painter and Ringo the jazz drummer, who move on two wheels.

Chen Shi-shuenn, president of the university, said the Dec. 27 performance will feature Thomas and Janet as the two leading characters in “The Phantom of the Opera”.

There will also be singing and a Chinese comic dialogue show, Chen said. Lin Chyi-yeu, a professor of mechanical engineering who heads the Center for Intelligent Robots, said the center has started with the development of entertainment robots and will further apply the eye-hand coordination technology on the development of other service robots.

Also, the incomes generated from the theater performance will be used on related research and development, Lin said.

Via The China Post


Dec 8 2008

Toyota trumpet playing robot to make orchestral debut

The world’s first and only trumpet-playing robot will perform for the first time with Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra during all four “Happy Holidays from the Pops” concerts December 12 -14 at Cincinnati’s historic Music Hall.

Read Release Below:

Toyota’s Trumpet Playing Robot will perform “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” from Walt Disney’s animated classic Cinderella as a solo piece. This engineering marvel will then join Maestro Kunzel and the Pops for two medleys that include such seasonal favorites as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Joy to the World,” and “Jingle Bells.”

“This is exciting for me and a first for the Pops stage,” said Erich Kunzel. “I’ve worked before with animals and children — but never with a robot!”

This high-energy extravaganza features everything one would expect from a Cincinnati Pops holiday show — singing dancing, a chorus, puppets a bell choir — but with a high-tech twist.

Standing 4 foot 9 inches, Toyota’s Trumpet Playing Robot has artificial lips which replicate the vibration of a human mouth, as well as artificial lungs. This intricate piece of engineering shows how robots can do very sophisticated functions like walking and playing a musical instrument with full dexterity.

“I’ve seen this robot in action – the audience will be amazed,’” said Mr. Kunzel. “We’re honored to be chosen by Toyota to feature this unique and interesting special guest.”

“Toyota is thrilled to showcase this innovative technology which will ultimately improve people’s quality of life in a wonderfully festive and family-friendly environment,” said Tania Saldana of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. “We are excited and honored to have our robot take the stage for the first time with the renowned Cincinnati Pops under the direction of Erich Kunzel.”

Based just south of Cincinnati in Erlanger, Kentucky, Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Inc. is a long-time supporter and community partner of the Cincinnati Pops.

Since its founding, Toyota’s corporate spirit has been “to enrich society through making things.” Based on this spirit, Toyota has been developing human-assisting partner robots as people around the globe are starting to crave better, more diversified lifestyles. These changes are particularly prominent in Japan where dwindling birth rates and a rapidly aging population are underscoring concerns regarding the need to secure a stable labor force for the future in order for its people to be able to enjoy comfortable standards of living. Toyota hopes to contribute to solving this growing problem even if in a small way.

The Toyota group has been working on industrial robots since the 1970s. Toyota Partner Robots were developed from basic technologies accumulated by various departments since the mid 1990s, with full-scale development beginning in 2000.

Partner robots will assist people in four target fields: manufacturing, medical/nursing care, housekeeping and personal mobility. Toyota believes that the technology incorporated into these partner robots will be a core technology for production and automobile manufacture in the future.

Tickets are $25-$69 (Children 6-18: $20), the Saturday Matinee features 25% off adult tickets (Children 6-18: $10) and are available by phone at (513) 381-3300 on the Internet at www.cincinnatipops.org, or in person at: CSO Box Office at Music Hall, 1241 Elm Street, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
CSO Box Office at Music Hall two hours prior to the performance.
Student Tickets for Cincinnati Pops concerts are $20 and are available the week of the concert in person at the CSO Sales Office, over the phone at 513-381-3300, online at www.cincinnatipops.org or at the Music Hall Box Office before the concert (limit two tickets per valid student ID).


Nov 26 2008

Actor robots take Japanese stage

First there were dancing robots, then house-sitting robots and now a new breed of acting robots is making its big debut on the Japanese stage.

The play, which had its premiere at Osaka University, is one of Japan’s first robot-human theatre productions.

The machines were specially programmed to speak lines with human actors and move around the stage with them.

Playwright Oriza Hirata says the work raises questions about the relationship between humanity and technology.

The play, called Hataraku Watashi (I, Worker), is set in the near future.

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It focuses on a young couple who own two housekeeping robots, one of which loses its motivation to work.

In the play, the robot complains that it has been forced into boring and demeaning jobs and enters into a discussion with the humans about its role in their lives.

So far, the play is only 20 minutes long but it is hoped to become a full-length production by 2010.

The Wakamaru robot is manufactured by Mitsubushi but the software to train it for the stage was developed over two months at the university.

The 1-m (3-ft) tall humanoid robot is best known as a mechanical house-sitter and secretary.

But soon they may be signing autographs or trying to roll away from paparazzi.

No word yet on whether they are pleased with the apparent job promotion.

via BBC