I'm not sure exactly why, but Dr. GIY's humanoid cat robot, based on the Kyosho MANOI AT-01 robot design, always makes me chuckle and gets my spirits up, especially when we are facing major challenges like the past week.
Last month, Aldebaran Robotics (France) and Tokyo University (Japan) announced an unusual alliance that could shift the way that humanoid robot research and development has been pursued in the past. It isn't the first joint initiative between a leading Japanese university and overseas, but it may turn out to be the most significant.
When we dropped by RT Corp in Akihabara earlier this week it was encouraging to find large stacks of NAO robots in their custom shipping cases getting prepared for delivery to customers here. RT has been very active in promoting NAO, not just for RoboCup but also for more general research and development, and the Japanese customers, including major universities, companies and research facilities, have really gotten on the program.
’NAO Robot Gets Out and About in Japan (Video)’ continues
The “promise” that robots would eventually be capable of playing soccer at the same level as their human counterparts has seemed almost like a pipe-dream. Humanoid robot performance has improved over the years, no question. But most of them have either been extremely expensive, or required a lot of support infrastructure, and their autonomous operation appeared quite hesitant and questionable. That's all about to change.
’Robot soccer promise becoming real… (Video)’ continues
RoboCup 2010 is ramping up in Singapore even as we speak, and while the energy and excitement can't compare to the human version, the eyes of robot enthusiasts and builders world-wide have shifted from South Africa to Singapore.
Yuki Nakagawa, our friend, robot mentor, and founder of RT-Corp is on-site, right in the middle of the action, and filing regular reports. Given her background with Asimo and other large sized humanoids, like Neko Tencho, she has a particular fondness for the "Adult Humanoid" RoboCup category, which explains her video above showing the warm-up practice session.
Looks like the ERATO Research Project group has been making a lot of progress, especially the Asada Synergistic Intelligence Project focused on developing human shaped robots that can communicate complex and a wide variety of movement.
One key objective is to explore motor learning and cognitive development in babies. It's important to understand that the researchers are not trying to develop robots that would replace human babies in any way. Quite the contrary. They hope that by developing robots that can replicate or mimic a human baby's cognitive development process they can discover and validate significant principles that will support similar adaptive learning for future robots that will be able to cooperatively coexist with people in our complex human society.
Here are a couple of videos uploaded by KMoriyama showing the latest project demonstrations in action. The videos were taken earlier this afternoon during a symposium at Tokyo University. First, the “Noby” baby robot:
And, the “M3–Neony” robot: