A Glimpse into the Future of Robotics- 2023

The Largest Robot Exhibition in Tokyo

IRIX 2023, one of the most interesting and largest robot exhibitions in the world, took place in Tokyo, Japan this year. The exhibition hosted more than 650 companies from all over the world, showcasing the latest advancements in robotics.

A Sustainable Society Created by Robotics

The underlying theme of the exhibition was Japan’s vision of a bright future in unison with robots, emphasising the concept of a sustainable society created by robotics. In Japan, robots are viewed as assistants rather than competitors, which sets their approach apart from that of Europe.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries: Pushing the Boundaries of Robotics

Kawasaki Heavy Industries, a prominent Japanese company, stole the show with their impressive display of robotic technology. They presented their latest humanoid robot, Kaleido Version 8, which showcased enhanced stability and confidence in performing various tasks, including handling heavy objects. Designed primarily as a rescue robot, Kaleido possesses the ability to navigate any type of surface, climb ladders, and execute physical work with remarkable dexterity.

Featuring a height of 511 (180 cm) and a weight of 190 pounds (86 kilos), Kaleido boasts 32 degrees of freedom and a screen-based face to display emotions. Its capabilities include cleaning up debris in the aftermath of natural disasters, collaborating with humans to lift large items, and assisting in humanitarian aid efforts.

Interestingly, Kawasaki has been developing Kaleido since 2015, and the maturity of the technology surrounding humanoid robots has made this an opportune time for its release. The anticipation for Kaleido’s availability among enthusiasts is growing, with speculation on when it will hit the market.

Kaleido’s Little Brother: Friends Robot

In addition to Kaleido, Kawasaki unveiled Friends Robot, a robot based on Kaleido’s technology but designed for indoor use in narrow environments such as homes, hospitals, and businesses. This robot features a slimmer profile and compact motors, making it suitable for maneuvering through tight spaces. Despite its smaller size, Friends Robot maintains the balance between industrial strength and a more delicate design. It can safely interact with people and even provide care.

Neokey and Foro: Social Robots for Interaction and Delivery

Kawasaki has demonstrated its commitment to pushing the boundaries of robotics by developing other innovative robots such as Neokey and Foro. Neokey, a social robot, is designed to interact with people, navigate through crowds, and assist with various tasks using its sensor-equipped hands. It can ride elevators, open doors, and communicate through gestures. Two settings, autonomous or remote, are currently being developed for Neokey.

Foro, on the other hand, is an autonomous delivery robot that can move independently or in a group, adjusting its pace to match the movement of people. It also possesses the capability to ride elevators. Both Neokey and Foro exhibit the potential for robots to seamlessly integrate into society and contribute to daily activities.

The Walking Robotic Nimbus Support Robot

An intriguing addition to the exhibition was the Walking Robotic Nimbus Support Robot, which resembles a cushion on bending legs with wheels. While its purpose is not immediately apparent, it seems to serve as lumbar support, mimicking human body movements and potentially providing comfort when standing or leaning backward.

Jinki Itai: Using Kawasaki’s Platform for Industry-Specific Robots

Jinki Itai, another Japanese company, has utilized Kawasaki’s platform to develop their own robot called Type One Kaleido Version 10. This robot is designed for industry applications, specifically to remove humans from dangerous environments during heavy physical work, such as high-rise jobs in civil engineering and the energy sector.

Type One Kaleido Version 10 features a humanoid torso mounted on a truck and operates via remote control using VR controllers and a headset. Its intuitive handling and force control technology enable precise replication of the operator’s movement. This compact and powerful robot offers a more efficient and safer alternative to traditional methods of performing challenging tasks.

Moonshot: A Robot for Housework

Moonshot, developed by Wasita University, is a robot equipped with generative artificial intelligence for housework. It can learn and replicate human movements, making it capable of performing certain household chores. While its current capabilities may seem limited, the university aims to expand Moonshot’s functionality to cover a wide range of tasks in the future. With Japan’s declining birth rate and aging population, the development of robots for various aspects of society has become a priority for the government and research centers.

A Glimpse into the Future of Robotics- 2023

Bats in the Belfry: Love at a Distance

The Kanazawa Institute of Technology showcased Love at a Distance, a robotic pillow designed to transfer body movements, heat, and heart rate to another person. This innovation caters to individuals in long-distance relationships, allowing them to experience a sense of physical closeness and intimacy. While it may seem unconventional, the pillow demonstrates the potential for robotics to bridge the gap between distance and human connection.

Realman: Unleashing the Potential of Mechanical Arms

Realman, a Chinese company, presented several robots at the exhibition, highlighting the capabilities of its mechanical arms. These robotic arms can be attached to various platforms, including humanoid torsos and mobile bases, transforming them into versatile assistants. Realman takes pride in the lightweight, durable, and accurate nature of their robotic arms, which can be easily integrated into different robotic systems or even vehicles.

Anime-Inspired Robots: Hatsuki and the Cuteroid Project

Hatsuki, an anime-inspired robot produced through the fusion of artificial intelligence and robotics, made an appearance at the exhibition. Developed by Sonyo Denki, Hatsuki serves as a temporary ambassador for the Cuteroid Project, a technical study group exploring the possibilities of humanoid robot movements using deep learning, human-robot interaction, and artificial intelligence research. The creators aim to break the fourth wall by allowing real-life interactions with the character, blurring the lines between virtual and physical experiences.

Shibora Machine: Supporting Manufacturing Processes with Conoid Robot

Shibora Machine presented a prototype of a two-armed conoid robot designed to support manufacturing processes. This robot offers a high degree of autonomy and is capable of performing tasks without the need for extensive training or programming. With two six-axis arms and AI technologies, the conoid robot can transport and assemble parts, as well as package boxes. Its versatility and adaptability make it a valuable asset in various industrial settings.

Ugo Mini: Automating Inspection Tasks

Ugo introduced Ugo Mini, a robot aimed at automating inspection tasks in commercial facilities. While the capabilities of such robots are still limited, Ugo Mini provides a cost-effective solution for security inspections and elderly care. The company previously focused on more complex systems, including humanoid robots and drones, but found value in offering a simpler and more accessible option.

Artie: Collaborative Humanoid Robot for Production Lines

Artie showcased their collaborative humanoid robot, Foodly, which is specifically designed to work alongside humans on production lines. Foodly’s artificial intelligence enables it to package objects of various shapes and sizes with precision. The robot has already been implemented in real production processes, proving its practicality and efficiency in industrial environments.

Unitree Robotics: The Future of General Purpose Robots

Unitree Robotics unveiled their latest bipedal humanoid general-purpose robot, the H One. With a height of 511 (180 cm) and a weight of 100 pounds (47 kilos), the H One possesses impressive mobility and agility. Its advanced joints and powerful motors allow for dynamic movements and a wide range of applications. While the development of the H One is still ongoing, Unitree Robotics predicts that it may take three to ten years before it becomes commercially available.

Yamaha: Revolutionising Material Handling in Factories

Yamaha presented a concept for a fully automated lithium-ion battery assembly line, showcasing their vision for the future of material handling in factories. By utilising a mechanic arm on a mobile robot, Yamaha demonstrated how parts delivered by unmanned electric vehicles can be efficiently picked up and integrated into the assembly process. This innovation offers a potential solution to address the lobar shortage in manufacturing industries.

Trendook: Advancements in Robotics Security and Control

Trendook surprised the visitors by introducing controllers for their robots that comply with international cybersecurity standards. This development ensures improved control performance and remote maintenance capabilities. Additionally, the company showcased the Roboguide V10 system, which allows for pretesting robot systems in a virtual reality environment. These advancements contribute to enhancing the safety and efficiency of robotic systems.

Other Innovations: Mitsubishi Electric, Denzo, Universal Robots, and More

Other notable innovations showcased at IRIX 2023 include Mitsubishi Electric’s concept for a fully automated lithium-ion battery assembly line, Denzo’s artificial intelligence algorithm for optimisation motion paths of multiple robots, Universal Robots’ compact collaborative robot UR30, and several advanced robots from FANUC, a leading industrial robot manufacturer.

Conclusion

IRIX 2023 provided an exciting glimpse into the future of robotics, highlighting Japan’s commitment to integrating robots into various aspects of society. From humanoid rescue robots to collaborative industrial robots, the exhibition showcased a wide range of innovative solutions. With the continuous advancements in technology and the increasing need for automation, the potential for robots to revolutionize industries and enhance our daily lives is becoming more evident. As we look forward to future developments, the possibilities for a robotic future are truly limitless.

 

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