Chasing down staplers and printer cartridges hurting your productivity at the office? Fret not. Hitachi has just come out with the latest version of their tireless office assistant robot, EMIEW2. Ask it where the scissor are, it’ll tell you. Better yet, it will go fetch it for you. You’re going to wish everyone in the office was so agreeable.
EMIEW2 gets around on a pair of wheels and moves so briskly around the office you can’t help but let the Monday blues melt away. It moves at about the same speed as a walking human so you won’t have to wait up for it, a definite skill advantage over Nao’s résumé. Guided by cameras EMIEW2 can avoid objects and people moving about the office. Improved stabilization means bumpy office terrain is no problem either. It listens well too. One improvement over EMIEW1 is the ability to recognize voices even over the din of a busy office.
But what will probably come in handy most is its new “locate and guide” function. To identify objects EMIEW1 relied solely on a database of reference images. EMIEW2 now has the aid of the Internet to identify puzzling objects in the office. It takes a picture and searches online for similar images. Remote cameras can pitch in too. A network of cameras can be mounted at multiple locations for a complete office view so EMIEW2 doesn’t even have to be near an object to tell you exactly where it can be found. A potential downside here, though, is it could also tell your boss that you’ve been napping.
EMIEW2’s movements are some of the smoothest I’ve seen for a robot. Its ability to move around on two wheels even over bumpy surfaces is impressive – and fun – to watch. It stands just 80 cm tall, weighs 14 kg, and has a cute, cartoonish appearance (reminds me of Mega Man). No doubt its production cost is anything but cute, and it will probably be a while before it drops down enough for businesses to justify getting a robot to fetch the scissors so you don’t have to. In the meantime you can watch the following video and go get your own damn cup of coffee.