Dec 22 2008

KAR – the Kitchen Assistant Robot does the dishes

KAR (Kitchen Assistant Robot) is a dishwashing robot from Japan. Developed by teams at Panasonic and The University of Tokyo, the one armed robot can gingerly handle your most precious chinaware, wash the entire set and then place the dishes in a kitchen dish rack.

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KAR accomplishes this feat via the use of 18 different sensors in its hand. The scientists behind the robot hope to have KAR ready for commercial use in about five years. For now the KAR robot is just a prototype, but grizzled drifters counting on greasy spoon diner dishwashing work might want to take notice. You can check out video of the KAR robot in action here.


Dec 16 2008

Autonomous floor cleaning robot uses the elevator

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd and Sumitomo Corp announced Dec 3, 2008, that they introduced their jointly developed unmanned floor cleaning robot system into Sumitomo Building in Osaka City, Japan.

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In this system, an autonomous cleaning robot moves between the floors of the office building using elevators and cleans the floor surfaces of corridors and other common spaces. It is operated by Reibi, the company that is in charge of cleaning the building and partially financed by Sumitomo.

The robot used in the system is based on the one that was introduced in Harumi Triton Square in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, in 2001. But the new robot features an enhanced drive motor, more durable power circuits and other improved functions.

Specifically, its safety was enhanced by employing a laser-type range sensor to detect obstacles and improving the signal processing program. In addition, the lifting mechanism of the vacuum device was changed from a motorized system to a manually-operated mechanism with a wire, reducing the cost and weight.

When the robot moves between floors, the light transmission devices installed in the robot and the elevator communicate with each other to open and close the door and indicate the destination. It can be equipped with a camera to record its work. It is possible to check the status of the robot and its surroundings by recording the whole operation on a hard disk.

In the past, Fuji Heavy Industries developed an outdoor cleaning robot for the “Next-Generation Robot Commercialization Project” of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). And the company demonstrated it at Expo 2005 Aichi Japan in 2005.

Furthermore, taking advantage of the “Service Robot Market Creation Assistance Project” by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the company improved the safety, reliability and maintainability of the robot.

Fuji Heavy Industries and Sumitomo have already introduced this system to Royal Parks Shinden, a rental apartment building in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, and the Sumitomo Shoji Izumi-cho Building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. In December 2006, the system was awarded the grand prize of METI’s “Robot Award 2006.”


Dec 6 2008

MEIT Robot Award 2008

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has been advancing efforts to develop technologies required for the commercialization of robots and to ensure their safety, with an eye to fostering the robot industry to become one of the leading industries in the world.

As part of such efforts, METI, together with co-organizers, presents “The Robot Award 2008” with the aim of promoting R&D and application of robotic technologies in the private sector, and promoting the creation of new markets for them. This award program was established in 2006.

From among the 65 entries submitted, eight robots were selected as First Prize-winners by the selection committee for their outstanding service this year and contribution to and potential for future market development.

Here are all winners:

Category: Service robots

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Omnibot17µ i-sobot from Takara Tomy

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“Booktime” from Nishizawa [JP], an automatic page turner

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Rice-transplanting robot from Japan’s National Agriculture and Food Research Organization

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Robotics-based engineer training solution ZMP e-nuvo from ZMP

Category: Industrial robots

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Small assembly conveyance robot XR-G from Denso Wave

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10th generation LCD glass substrate processing robot MOTOMAN-CDL 3000D from Yaskawa Electric

Category: Other robots and parts

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Hose-shaped rescue robot from Tohoku University

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Ultra-small MEMS 3-axial touch sensor chip from the University of Tokyo and Panasonic

The METI will select winners of the Grand Prize and the Venture Award for SMEs from these robots and announce them December 18.