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Date [ 2014-01-08, 09:43 ]

Wasweda robotics research leading the way


(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) by Ramani Rathir = This university has made great strides in the field of robotics. There are many types doing various functions. Some of  Waseda University's robots include TWENDY-ONE which supports the elderly, WABIAN-2 and KOBIAN bi-pedal robots with emotions, SCHEMA, the robot that can converse with many people and TWIns institute for breast cancer tumor surgery

The  university is promoting research that can contribute to the realization of world peace and human happiness. In order to construct a framework of an “international research university,” the university disseminates information on these activities worldwide and feeds the results back into human society.

Above all, through its robot research that has developed some of the world’s most advanced technologies on a daily basis for more than four decades, the university has gained attention as an international research center which is expected to create innovations for robotic technology.

Here then is an overview of some of Waseda's robots.

TWENDY-ONE

Smoothly supporting the lives of the elderly with skillful humanlike hands and arms

Due to the low birth rate and aging population in Japan, there is an increasing need for nursing care robots to support the daily lives of the elderly. The need has risen for robots to handle various shaped items around the home such as household appliances, plates and utensils, just as humans do.

TWENDY-ONE, a robot developed at the Sugano Laboratory, is equipped with compliant joint function employing springs in its arms and has fingers with adjustable pressure, enabling it to handle soft or complex shaped objects in the same way that people do. It provides help with housework and nursing care, such as helping someone to get out of bed into a wheelchair, opening a refrigerator and taking out food, or baking bread.

Safety is an important factor in nursing care, and the robots are programmed not to hurt the people, even if the robots collide with their humans accidentally. TWENDY-ONE can follow human motions by having a contact detection function all over its body and advanced sensing capability. The aim now is to turn this robot into a commercial product within a few years.

WABIAN-2 and KOBIAN

The latest bipedal walking robot that can display various emotions

A sequel to WABOT, WABIAN-2 was developed at the Takanishi Laboratory. Adopting a mechanism that mimics the movements of the pelvis, WABIAN-2 walks like a human being and can be used as a body movement simulator for developing assistive technologies.

KOBIAN, a combination of a WABIAN-2’s body and an upper body that expresses feelings, is another robot that uses its whole body to display an array of emotions. By moving its eyelids, eyelashes and lips, opening its mouth in a circle, opening its arms, and making a crying gesture with its head down, it has seven facial expressions of happiness, anger, surprise, sadness, fear, dislike and one to show a normal emotion. The day may come when robots such as these, with their humanlike movements and ability to show feelings, can comfort people in nursing homes and the elderly who live alone.

SCHEMA

Communication robot that can converse with many people

The Perceptual Computing Laboratory,led by Professor Tetsunori Kobayashi, is researching on a robot that can converse naturally with people using voice recognition, facial expression recognition, machine learning, conversation building methods and other functions.

The culmination of these experiments is SCHEMA. Whereas other robots to date have been designed to conduct conversations on a one-to-one basis, SCHEMA can converse naturally with more than one person. Its pretty face also makes it popular with children.

TWIns

Waseda University researches and develops not only humanoid robots but also more practical modules such as surgical assistant robotic systems and walking support systems for the elderly and disabled. At TWIns, a joint biomedical science institute with Tokyo Women's Medical University, research is underway to utilize the intelligent, accurate and precise movements of robots in medical treatment.

An example is the breast cancer surgical assistant robot developed by the Fujie Laboratory in cooperation with Kyushu University and Tohoku University. One method of treating liver cancer is radio wave cautery, in which cancer cells are cauterized by radio waves emitted from the tip of an inserted needle, and its application as a form of minimally invasive surgery in breast cancer is being studied.

A breast cancer surgical assistant robot will be able to locate and quantify cancer cells within an area and accurately control a needle that pierces and cauterizes those cells. There are hopes for this to become a safe medical procedure that does not depend on the experience and skill of a doctor.

Currently, Fujie Laboratory is developing a robotic system for assisting breast cancer diagnosis by applying the technology to locate and quantify cancer cells within an area.

As an experienced doctor diagnoses not only a tumor’s location and region but type of breast tumor by palpation, the robot presses the breast, calculates stiffness values from the state of breast deformation and provides information to determine the type of breast tumor. Fujie Laboratory is working towards developing a robotic system to assist from minimally-invasive diagnosis to final treatment of breast cancer.

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