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Domo arigato, Mr Roboto

By Zam Karim, The Star 3 September. 2004


SERI KEMBANGAN: It was quite the performance: Headstands, tai-chi moves and a Sumo wrestler's stance.

Nothing too unusual, except all these moves were conducted by a small robot in a spaceman's suit

Standing only 50cm tall and weighing in at a sprightly 7kg, HOAP-2 (Humanoid for Open Architecture Platform 2) enthralled the crowd today at the Asean Communications and Multimedia Expo and Forum (ACM 2004), going on this week at the Mines International Exhibition and Convention Centre here.

The humanoid robot, developed by Tokyo-based Fujitsu Automation Ltd, was flown to Malaysia specially to participate in ACM by Fujitsu (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (http://my.fujitsu.com/).

HOAP-2 is equipped with sophisticated circuitry and sensors which ensure smooth motion and better stability, allowing it to simulate human movements.

"It is an ideal tool for research and development work in robotics technology, especially in motion-control such as walking on two legs, as well as in human-to-robot communications," said Ryuichi Takaishi, one of the Fujitsu engineers behind the compact robot.

Of course, it does help a lot when one has about 25DOF (degrees of freedom) from neck and arms to ankles, to help one move.

In mechanical and aeronautical engineering, DOF describes flexibility of motion. Each of the following is one degree of freedom: Moving up and down (heaving), moving left and right (swaying), moving forward and back (surging), tilting up and down (pitching), and turning left and right (yawing).

The HOAP-2 on display at ACM was powered by electricity, but it can also run on the same kind of batteries that power notebook computers. Instructions can be relayed to it using WiFi communications.

It was programmed using the Open C/C++ language.

Fujitsu has sold about 70 units to Japanese universities and R&D centres. Each robot costs about 7mil yen (about RM243,000).

For more info, point your Internet browser to http://www.automation.fujitsu.com/en/products.

ACM is part of the on-going Malaysia Information and Communications Technology Week 2004 (http://www.ktak.gov.my/MICT2004).

HOAP-2 mimics a sumo-wrestler

HOAP-2 mimics a sumo-wrestler

HOAP-2 mimics a sumo-wrestler

HOAP-2 mimics a sumo-wrestler

Reproduced courtesy of The Star