Japan’s Hitachi has unveiled a robot that can recognise objects at a glimpse and guide humans to find them. The company says EMIEW2 was developed as part of an effort to create a service robot that can safely coexist with people in the home or office.
EMIEW 2 is the latest version of a service robot that Hitachi debuted in 2005. It’s designed to recognise and use cameras around a room to locate everyday objects, such as a watch.
EMIEW2 uses two cameras mounted on its head to see objects whose image it then compares with others stored in its database. Hitachi’s Takashi Sumiyoshi says the technology is limited only by the amount of information the robot can store. Researchers at Hitachi’s Central Research Laboratory say:
“EMIEW collects images of various objects from the internet and saves them on external database. Then, when you show it something, EMIEW figures out what it is comparing the color and shape of the object with the sample images in its database. Also, if you say the name of an object, EMIEW searches for it and guides you to where it is located.”
It recognises human faces in the same way and can distinguish a specific camera from scores of others.
The robot manoeuvres on two wheels with what Hitachi calls “posture-control” technology, helping it make smoother turns around people and furniture.
EMIEW is also light-weight for easy carrying.
“We developed this robot mainly to provide a guidance service for humans, so it has to be nimble to move around without bumping into people and also lightweight so that it wouldn’t hurt people even if it accidentally hits them. It’s also easy to carry because it’s light,” says researchers.
Developers have no plans to commercialise EMIEW2 any time soon but they hope it will one day be a guiding presence in elderly care facilities, hospitals and ultimately, in homes.