Japanese Venture to Sell Source Code for Two-legged Robot

Aug 7, 2008
Kenji Michimoto, Nikkei Electronics

ZMP Inc, a Japanese home robot developer, will sell the source code for "nuvo," a two-legged humanoid robot developed and sold by the company, exclusively for research purposes.

ZMP announced this "nuvo Source Code Disclosure Program" August 6, 2008.

Users (universities, companies and individuals) of the program will participate in the community operated by ZMP and share the research results obtained through usage of the source code. ZMP aims to accelerate various researches on robots through this program.

The recently announced program is a package of a nuvo robot, the source code, the electrical circuit diagram, three days of training and an ID for participating in the nuvo community. The price is ¥257,250 (approx US$2,350, including tax).

The participants are limited to those who use the program for researches, and they are required to sign an NDA (non disclosure agreement) with ZMP. The number of robots is limited to 50, and application will be closed as soon as the quorum is reached.

ZMP has been engaged in sale and development of entertainment robots including nuvo and music robot "mioro," and at the same time engaged in an education business that includes providing robotic teaching materials to universities and research institutes.

The "e-nuvo," for example, is well known among automobile manufacturers, etc and is used for employee training. The recent program is part of its education business, but it goes far beyond that.

ZMP's CEO Hisashi Taniguchi explains the reasons for the source code disclosure as follows.

"Expansion of the home robot market is reaching a deadlock. Assessment of a killer application that brings forth a breakthrough is becoming more crucial than ever. We hesitated to disclose the source code, our intellectual property, but we wanted to spur the research and development of robots by involving external human resources, because the capability of ZMP, a venture business with small workforces, is limited."

The robot development has reached a certain level of maturity in terms of hardware. Development of software, including applications and services, will be the mainstream for the coming years, according to Taniguchi.

"We would appreciate participation by IT companies and their employees who are skilled in working out new services and business models," he said.

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