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Japanese Robot/humanoid Innovations ­pdate: Mankind's Best New Friend Is Getting Better

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Japan's Information and Robot Technology Research Technology Initiative is working on the Home Assistant Robot Project, an effort to create a robot capable of serving as a housekeeper and caregiver. Such a robot would need fine motor skills, be able to balance on one foot, and lift objects. The project has created Assistant Robot, which features a wide-angle stereo camera, a telephoto stereo camera, and ultra-sensitive sensors. The robot operates on a two-wheel drive base with balancing wheels, and is capable of sweeping the floor, picking up a tray of dishes, moving the dishes to the sink, loading the dishwasher, moving chairs, and putting dirty clothes in the washer.

Another research effort at Tokyo's Waseda University recently unveiled a humanoid robot named Twenty-One, which is equipped with manual dexterity capable of picking up a drinking straw, placing the straw in a tumbler, and handing the drink to a human. Twenty-One has voice recognition capabilities and three soft fingers with an opposable thumb. The researchers say Twenty-One is strong enough to support disabled patients to help them move around.

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