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).


Dec 7 2008

Mamoru-kun, a robot helper

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Mamoru-kun, an immobile and diminutive robot by the University of Tokyo, could tell you where you last left those keys that you lose. Developed in cooperation with Fujitsu and Toyota, Mamoru-kun measures a mere 40cm tall and weighs 3.8kg. Mamoru-kun can find an object the owner is looking for within specified areas and alerts the owner about it either via verbally through speaker or by pointing at it using its jointed arm (it has another two joints at the neck). We’re still very early on into the technology though – Mamoru-kun’s lost-item-finding powers are limited to pre-programmed items in a specified area only.

For the system to work, you’d have to input items that often get misplaced for identification later. The whole area where you need Mamoru-kun to monitor would also have to be wired with cameras connected to the robot. While these requirements are severely limiting, Mamoru-kun’s developers believe that it could provide great assistance “especially beneficial for elderly and sick persons. ” Additionally, commercialization of the technology isn’t expected until 2018.