By >Daimaou - G.G-B
[Video] AkihabaraNews meet Twendy-One, the Human Symbiotic Robot from WASEDA
If the TWENDY-ONE project is not something really new and has been covered widely on the press worldwide, we had however, the chance to meet this Human Symbiotic Robot in flesh thanks to the kind invitation of Professor and Dr. Sugano, the head of the Waseda University’s department of mechanical engineering.
Unlike many other robots, Twendy One is not a simple “puppet”, but a real working prototype based on a previous generation Robot from WASEDA U, Wendy, that in the year 2000 gained so much momentum that Waseda and 20 private companies decided to work together to create a fully operational Prototype for a final product with main stream clones available within the next 10 to 15 years.
The Goal behind Twendy-One is to build a robot that would co-exist with humans, and will be able to help them with some very basic tasks. It is not a secret for anyone that the population of Japan is in a sharp decline with a super-aging society and Japan will be incapable of shifting the balance unless they either generously open their doors to foreign citizens or find other means to take care of the elderly with a very limited number of staff.
Today the Twendy-One looks and performs admirably well, but to reach that state has not been an easy one. Our little robot presented a lot of challenges that Professor Sugnao-san and his team had to tackle with one by one. Of course we are not going to go into the details of each and every single one of them, but there are some very interesting ones that we can share with you. One of them was to build-up a “Human-like” robot and equip it with all the necessary functions in the slimmest and sleekest possible design. Hearing that may sound a bit strange for you, but remember that our Twendy-One is a state-of the-art Robot, with up to 241 sensors in one hand alone. It also comes with 7 Pentium 4 CPUs that alone give our Robot the calculating power for all its tasks.
Add to this challenge was also the impressive number of wires and different cables needed for Twendy-One to run. Although we have mentioned just two of the multiple challenges so far, I guess even they are enough in themselves to let you grasp how impressive this robot is and how difficult it must have been to put together all these technologies in a single ultra sleek design.
Another big challenge for the team was to give our robot a “human Friendly” touch/skin. Made to interact with humans, the design of our robot was just one of the many aspects to take into consideration, and another one was to give our robot a “soft” skin that would feel right (natural enough) and comfortable for everyone.
So many challenges, some many possibilities, and yet, Professor Sugano and his team at WASEDA U, succeed in demonstrating the World that it is indeed possible and that the future with such truly amazing Robots is just a few years ahead of us.
With a few tricks of its own, Twendy-One showed us at Waseda what it was capable of, starting from a simple task such as taking a toast out from a toaster and putting it on a plate to helping someone to stand-up and to sit on a wheel-chair as well as manipulating a fragile plastic straw without crushing it, proving how powerful and yet delicate he is.
As stated earlier, Twendy-One is still a prototype, but a well-made one. Sure there are many other challenges ahead, but rest assured, Twendy-One-like Robots will be around us pretty soon and maybe even sooner than you think.