Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bicycling robot

Until this week, almost nobody in Japan had heard of Murata Manufacturing, a small electrical device manufacturing company based near Kyoto. But then they displayed their "Murataseisaku-kun" robot (literally, "Murata-manufacturing boy") at the interantional Ceatec technology show in Tokyo and the robot made national and international headlines. The robot stands about 50 cm in height and weighs 5 kilos. It can ride a one eigth scale bicycle with great accuracy; at the show it cycled along a beam just 3 centimetres wide. It can recognise obstacles and can go in reverse. The in-built cameras also allow it to follow the path of a line drawn on the floor.

The robot uses internal sensors (presumably some form of gyroscope) to sense and maintain balance. Gripping the handlebars of the bike also helps it to keep balanced. It can achieve a top speed of 2 km/h.

It took about 20 million Yen (100,000 pounds sterling, 175,000 USD) to develop. Unfortunately, I was not able to go to the show in Tokyo so I do not have a photo, but you can see a picture here.

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