Hitachi Creates Roller-skating Robot

June 18, 2010
The 'EMIEW2' could be used as a receptionist and visitors' guide in office buildings.

Hitachi unveiled a pint sized roller-skating robot on June 18 that can negotiate uneven surfaces, respond to voice commands and could work as a tour guide or security guard.

Dubbed the EMIEW2, the humanoid has complex spring-loaded shock absorbers in its legs that allow it to move across minor bumps and wires on the floor without tripping, a world-first for a robot of its kind, the company said.

"It can control its posture the way humans do when we stabilize ourselves after jumping on inline skates," Yuji Hosoda, chief researcher at Hitachi's transportation systems department, said at the robot's Tokyo launch.

The machine, 80 centimeter (32 inches) tall and weighing 14 kilograms (almost 31 pounds), has 14 microphones fitted into its helmet that can pick out human voices from background noise such as music or the clatter of footsteps.

The red-and-white robot could be used as a receptionist and visitors' guide in office buildings, Hosoda said.

"It could also be used for security, such as patrolling and surveillance as it could find a suspicious person hiding in blind spots out of range of fixed security cameras," he said.

"This adorable EMIEW2 could lead to a new form of surveillance."

The company has not yet announced plans to commercialize the robot.

The name EMIEW -- although its sounds like Australia's flightless bird the emu -- is in fact short for "excellent mobility and interactive existence as workmate," Hitachi said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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