Japanese Firms to Release Torso Humanoid Robot for Research Purposes

May 13, 2009
Chiho Matsuda, Nikkei Monozukuri
[Click to enlarge image]
The "HIRO," a life-size torso humanoid robot platform. The bottom part is a combination of a mount and a robot suit. The frame is made of cast aluminum alloy. The HIRO is sized 67 (H) x 50 (W) x 50cm (D) and weighs 20kg.
The "HIRO," a life-size torso humanoid robot platform. The bottom part is a combination of a mount and a robot suit. The frame is made of cast aluminum alloy. The HIRO is sized 67 (H) x 50 (W) x 50cm (D) and weighs 20kg.
[Click to enlarge image]

Kawada Industries Inc and General Robotix Inc (GRX) have jointly developed a life-size torso humanoid robot platform, the "HIRO" (Human Interactive Robot).

The robot's movements are more similar to those of humans compared with existing robots, making it possible to conduct practical researches.

The HIRO is scheduled to be delivered to academic research institutes such as university laboratories and vocational schools specializing in information machines in the autumn of 2009.

When environmental recognition devices such as a camera are mounted on the platform, it can be used to research human interactive robots that work under actual living environments as well as robot safety and interactive technologies for next-generation robot systems and their hardware and software.

The robot has 15 degrees of freedom in total, with two of them in the neck, six in each arm and one in the low back. It can carry an object weighing up to 2kg with each of its arms, and its finger tip features an operating force of up to 100N (approximately 10kgf).

The finger tip can trace the outer track of an A4 paper, starting from and coming back to the center point (approximately 1,400mm), in about two seconds and can repeat this movement. The repeat positioning accuracy is within 20μm, according to Kawada Industries and General Robotix.

The robot incorporates the "OpenHRP3" (Open Architecture Human-centered Robotics Platform 3), a simulation software developed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technologies (AIST) jointly with the University of Tokyo and GRX. The control software was co-developed by GRX and Kawada.

This control software will also be employed in a transfer robot that is currently being developed under the next generation intellectual robot technology development project promoted by Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). Furthermore, the companies are considering the possibility of bringing the control software into compliance with the RT Middleware, which are being developed by NEDO and its partners.

The HIRO uses Windows XP as the operating system (OS) for information processing and recognition, while it uses QNX for control, to form a system with high flexibility and real-time property, the companies said.

The robot adopts the CORBA as the interface for the control software and user applications. In addition, libraries and samples supporting a variety of languages will be provided together with a program source.

It comes in two versions, a full spec version and a lower priced basic version. The full spec version has a head-mounted double-lens stereo vision camera, two robot hands with four degrees of freedom in each hand, two hand cameras, etc mounted on the main body. It is also equipped with a control PC and an information processing and recognition PC that are used as robot controllers. The price is ¥7.4 million (approx US$76,963, excluding tax).

The basic version, which is offered for ¥5.4 million (excluding tax), does not have the two degrees of freedom in the neck, the head-mounted camera and the two robot hands. Both of the versions include software.