Robot Venture Announces Car Robotics R&D Platform

Dec 19, 2008
Kenji Michimoto, Nikkei Electronics
ZMP President and CEO Hisashi Taniguchi
ZMP President and CEO Hisashi Taniguchi
[Click to enlarge image]
Toru Yamaguchi, professor of the Department of System Design at Tokyo Metropolitan University
Toru Yamaguchi, professor of the Department of System Design at Tokyo Metropolitan University
[Click to enlarge image]

ZMP Inc announced Dec 17, 2008, that it will develop "ZMP Car Robotics Platform," a software platform to facilitate research and development in the field of car robotics in collaboration with Toru Yamaguchi, professor of the Department of System Design at Tokyo Metropolitan University.

Car robotics is a research field that seeks to apply robotics to vehicle designs. The platform consists of a 1/10-scale car robot model and various software applications. Shipment is slated for April 2009. Pricing is expected to be about ¥500,000 (approx US$5,569) per unit.

ZMP develops and sells entertainment robots and the "e-nuvo series" robot materials used to train engineers.

The company's president and CEO Hisashi Taniguchi said, "Demand is expected to grow in the car robotics area. We plan to leverage our extensive expertise, which we have cultivated in our robotics educational material business.

"Research in car robotics requires a huge amount of capital and a lot of land for test-driving vehicles," he added. "However, our 1/10-scale models allow engineers to conduct research at a low cost while saving space."

On the other hand, Yamaguchi, as manager of the Electronics Department at the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, is an expert on "humatronics," which deals with technologies for exchanging and sharing information between humans and automobiles. ZMP and Yamaguchi will research and develop a car robotics platform from now on, while designing new robotics applications for humans and automobiles.

"Tokyo Metropolitan University is planning to release the results achieved by this joint research as open source materials," Yamaguchi said.

The robot to be included in the ZMP Car Robotics Platform will be equipped with CCD stereo cameras, NEC Corp's image processing board, WiFi module, gyro sensor, acceleration sensor, odometry internal sensor, laser range finder and infrared external sensor for ranging. Its software will include Linux OS and an exclusive code for an image processor.

Also, ZMP will provide an application development environment for Windows and Linux PCs, utilizing the "MATLAB/Simulink" model-based development tool. The CPU in the robot can locate and execute applications developed by users, the company said.

The platform is primarily targeted at companies, research institutes, universities, industrial high schools and polytechnics studying unmanned robot cars, collective traffic control, information sharing between humans and automobiles and drive assist technologies, for example.