IREX International Robot Expo Roundup

Sora the robot

The IREX International Robot Expo 2005 is in full swing in Tokyo, Japan right now. Hundreds of companies, organizations and researchers have their robots on display for the public to interact with. From entertainment robots to cleaning bots to robotic receptionists, there are many fresh faces and some familiar ones as well.

One of the most popular exhibits this year is a robotic version of Pac-Man. Players of the game, developed by Bandai and Namco, are able to navigate a robot Pac-Man via remote control through a three dimensional maze complete with robot ghosts.

Even though it’s been around for a while, the RoboBar robotic bartender by Motoman is always a crowd favorite. Capable of serving up to 120 drinks per hour, it can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without breaks, vacations, holidays, or sick time, and only requires 30 cents worth of electricity an hour to run. It makes no mistakes, nor does it spill or over pour, resulting in better inventory and quality control. For 150,000 USD, I guess that's not too much to ask.  Japanese robot maker <a href="" target="_blank">Tmsuk</a> presented the <a href="" target="_blank">RIDC-01</a>, a four-foot, 220 pound cleaning robot that also has a projector in its head for showing DVD movies. With a price tag of85,000 USD, I think I’ll stick with my vacuum cleaner and DVD player.

Information robots seem to be all the rage this year. Sky unveiled Sora, a receptionist robot equipped with a camera, speaker, and a microphone that can handle information requests and can also be used for videoconferencing. The Kokoro Dreams Actroid robot first introduced at Japan’s World Expo in March made an appearance as well. The Actroid is a very realistic looking android modeled after a young, attractive Japanese woman. She understands more than 40,000 phrases in four languages. Having seen the Actroid it occurs to me that maybe Albert Hubo wouldn’t be so creepy if only they had given him a human body.

The IREX exhibition runs for four days, and there are approximately 200 companies participating. I didn’t budget for airfare to Tokyo so I couldn’t attend the expo this year, but I’ll continue to scour the web for anything else of interest that comes out of the show and post it here when I find it.

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