Giant Kuratas Robot For Sale in Japan

Like many Japanese, Kogoro Kurata grew up watching futuristic robots in movies and animation, wishing that he could bring them to life and pilot one himself. Unlike most other Japanese, he has actually done it.His 4-tonne, 4-metre 13 feet tall Kuratas robot is a grey behemoth with a built-in pilot’s seat and hand-held controller that allows an operator to flex its massive arms, move it up and down and drive it at a speed of up to 10 kph 6 mph.“The robots we saw in our generation were always big and always had people riding them, and I don’t think they have much meaning in the real world,” said Kurata, a 39-year-old artist.“But it really was my dream to ride in one of them, and I also think it’s one kind of Japanese culture. I kept thinking that it’s something that Japanese had to do.”

Read the rest of the story: Giant Kuratas robot comes to life in Japan.

Japan’s HRP-4C or “Miim” robot gets a new walk

Japan loves their robots, esepcially ones that look like attractive women and the “Miim” robot, otherwise known as HRP-4C, from the developers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology AIST is no exception.Well with one maybe, they were never happy with the way that she walked. With 30 motors that let it walk, move its arms; as well as 8 motors for facial expressions, Miim is based on User Centered Robot Open Architecture.This allows the robot to utilize some fundemental robotic techniques as well as realime Linux, RT middleware, something called robot simulator openHRP3 and speech recognition.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s “Miim” robot get a new walk [Video].

Japan creates “thinking” robot that can learn on its own

The Tokyo Institute of Technology has unveiled a new robot that is capable of learning and making decisions based on prior experiences – in a manner not dissimilar to humans. Click on the link to see the video.

As if robots weren’t terrifying enough, a Japanese technology firm has created a humanoid machine capable of thinking and learning by itself. 

The new robot, dubbed SOINN (Self-Organizing Incremental Neural Network), was developed by the Hasegawa Group at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Unlike other robots, it will attempt to perform tasks it hasn’t encountered before and learn from any mistakes it makes.

Read the rest of the story: Japan creates “thinking” robot that can learn by itself.

Disabled Japanese man embarks on dream trip with the help of HAL robo-suit

A disabled Japanese man on Friday embarked on an ambitious trip that will take him to a mediaeval French World Heritage site with the help of a cutting-edge robotic suit.

Seiji Uchida, 49, who lost the ability to walk in a car accident 28 years ago, said his trip to the picturesque abbey of Mont Saint Michel, set on a rocky islet in Normandy, will be only the beginning of his dream.

"Right now, I cannot stand on my own feet without help," said Uchida at Tokyo’s Narita airport before his departure to France.

Read the rest of the story: Disabled Japanese man begins robo-suit adventure.

US Sending Robots to Japan to Help in Nuclear Crisis

The U.S. government is sending some robotic help to Japan to help regain control of the tsunami-damaged nuclear plant.

A top Energy Department official told a Senate panel Tuesday that a shipment of "radiation hardened robotics" will be sent to Japan to assist in the crisis. A department spokeswoman said a robotic device from the Energy Department’s Idaho National Laboratory is being shipped to Japan along with several radiation-hardened cameras.

Peter Lyons, an acting assistant energy secretary, said Japanese officials were "very, very interested" in learning more about the capabilities of U.S robots. The United States is also sending robot operators who would be used to train Japanese operators, Lyons said.

Robots with electronics built to withstand radiation could presumably work in areas where radiation levels would harm or even kill a person. Workers at the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi plant have been exposed to high levels of radiation and burned.

Read the rest of the story: US sending robots to Japan to help nuclear plant.

PIC: iRobot’s PACKBOT: Each of iRobot’s 10.9-kilogram Packbots is equipped with a three-link arm that can lift up to about 13.6 kilograms, move debris and potentially relocate hazardous materials. In addition to being able to negotiate stairs, the Packbot can travel at up to 9.3 kilometers per hour and climb grades as steep as 60 degrees.

For an assessment of the Nuclear Crisis affecting Japan and the radiation levels measured go to

Robot marathon underway in Japan

The world’s first full-length marathon for two-legged robots kicked off in Japan on Thursday, with the toy-sized humanoids were due to run 42.195 kilometres (26 miles) over four days.

The machines began the non-stop race on a 100-metre (109-yard) indoor track in the western city of Osaka after doing knee bends or raising their hands to greet spectators.

The bipedal robots — the tallest of which measures 44 centimetres (17.6 inches) — must complete 423 laps to reach their goal.

Read the rest of the story: Robot marathon kicks off in Japan.

Japan’s JAXA to Keep Astronauts Company with Robot

Japan’s humanoid robots smile, laugh, and sing. But what if they could read your facial expression, converse in words, and scale the latest peak in communication—tweet on the microblogging service Twitter? All this from space?

A humanoid robot developed by Japan’s Advanced Industrial Science and Technology sings and dances with performers in Tokyo in October 2010.

That’s exactly what Japan’s national aerospace agency is aiming to develop by 2013. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said earlier this week that it has begun reviewing a possible joint venture with Tokyo University and advertising and communications company Dentsu Inc. to develop a humanoid robot that will join astronauts in space as a permanent resident on the International Space Station, or ISS.

The robot wouldn’t be the first aboard the ISS: NASA is launching a humanoid robot of its own later this month. But the NASA machine has been engineered to assist astronauts with various operational tasks on the ISS, while the Japanese robot’s main task would essentially be in the service sector—to keep astronauts company.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s JAXA to Send Robot to Keep Astronauts Company in Space — and Tweet Back to Earth.

Japan Planning To Use Robots To Mine The Ocean Floor for everything from methane hydrate to gold

According to a recent media report, Japan plans to use deep-sea mining robots to exploit rare precious metals on the ocean floor around the island nation within a decade.

Yomiuri Shimbun said without naming sources that Japan-Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) plans to deploy the remote-controlled robots at depths of up to 6,600 feet.

The daily reported that experts believe that as some minerals become scarcer around the world, exploiting hard-to-reach underwater deposits and pumping them up to mother ships will become feasible.

Japan and its Asian high-tech rivals are trying to secure rare earths and other minerals needed for products from fuel-efficient hybrid cars and batteries to cellphones and LCD TVs.

According to the report, the project will focus on seabed volcanoes near the Izu and Ogasawara island chain, south of Tokyo, and the southwestern Okinawa islands.

Read the rest of the story: Japan Planning To Use Robots To Mine The Ocean Floor.

HAL- Japan’s robotic outfit to help disabled

Japan’s Cyberdyne may share its name with the company responsible for nuclear destruction and the killer robots of the "Terminator" movie series, but the similarities end there.

And if the idea of a robot suit helping those with disabilities walk sounds like the stuff of science fiction, think again: the real-life Cyberdyne is in the business of revolutionising lives.

The firm produces an exoskeleton robot device called the Hybrid Assistive Limb, or HAL, which in another sci-fi related coincidence shares its name with the devious computer in Stanley Kubrick’s "2001: A Space Odyssey".

It gives power to its wearer by anticipating and supporting the user’s body movements using sensors monitoring electric signals sent from the brain to the muscles. Current options are for a single leg device or both legs.

HAL has many potential applications, from assisting caregivers lift people to helping construction workers or even firefighters.

In one case, three weeks of training with HAL enabled a man who had suffered brain injuries to stand on his own feet after nine years in a wheelchair, said Cyberdyne CEO Yoshiyuki Sankai, professor at the University of Tsukuba.

The group is now gearing up for mass-production and started leasing the battery-powered suit to welfare facilities last year.

"Developing robots without utilising them in society would just be an extension of a hobby," Sankai, 52, said. "What I develop should be part of society and benefit people."

A Japanese adventurer with disabilities is planning to leave his wheelchair behind and walk up a medieval French World Heritage site next year with the lower-limb HAL.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s robot suit to bring hope to the disabled.

Japan readying their robot workers

The replacement of humans by machines in the workplace took another step forward on Wednesday, as Japanese researchers unveiled a model they hope could lead to humanoid menial workers.

Its makers, Kawada Industries and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), hope the robot will be a step towards creating a model that can help ease greying Japan’s looming labour shortage.

"We designed a working robot in the image of a lean but well-muscled track-and-field athlete," Noriyuki Kanehira, robotic systems manager at Kawada, told a news conference to unveil the blue-and-white "HRP-4".

Read the rest of the story: Japan takes another step towards robot workers.