For those of you who are having a hard time figuring out what to buy your robot for Christmas I have one suggestion: Legos. Yaskawa Industries has put on some impressive demonstrations with its Motoman SD10 model (it’s one of our top bots of 2009), so it was no surprise that the newest SDA5D debuted at IREX 2009 with a fun display of assembling toy blocks. There were many interesting presentations at IREX, and more than one used Legos, but the Motoman SDA5D really charmed the audience with its play and its antics. Check out the video from Diginfo TV after the break and make sure to watch at 1:20 to see the robot play at being human.
The SDA5D represents some strategic upgrades from previous Motoman models. It has slightly bent elbows to allow it to work closer to its body. Standard 3D vision and shape matching now includes color processing to allow the robot to determine which blocks it wants to select for each part of the house it builds in the demo.
IREX is primarily a marketing conference, and Yaskawa wasted no time linking the cute display with real world applications: installed SDA5D model Motomen will be able to assemble complex devices using color as well as 3D shape determination. Humanoid robots, and their ability to directly plug into the manufacturing positions now held by human workers, continue to gain popularity. It will take time, though, to see if the human shape will be the industry standard as automation completely dominates all levels of assembly. Even if the Motoman line is eventually replaced by simpler robot arms, I will still be impressed by the playful demonstrations they’ve created so far. Welcome to the club, SDA5D. You’ve got to love a robot that knows how to make an entrance.
Enjoy the video from IREX. Is it just me, or does the narrator’s voice used in the video also sound like it belongs to a robot?
[photo credit: Pink Tentacle]