Thankfully it seems that when one Japanese humanoid robot meets an untimely end it isn’t too long until another appears on the scene to take its place. Qrio may be headed towards an early grave, but Gizmodo caught an AP article from last Friday describing the HRP-2 Promet, a new humanoid robot being developed by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Envisioned as a domestic helper, Promet is already able to control your TV with a remote control built into its chest and is able to fetch your beverage of choice from the fridge.
There are currently two Promet prototypes in existence. Although their gait is described as stiff and slow, the 61 inch tall Promets are capable of most of the same movements as humans with the exception of running. Since they are designed to provide assistance much like a service dog, the developers have focused much of their efforts on Promet’s ability to interact with humans, including understanding and responding to verbal commands. In order to follow out these commands the robot must be able navigate its environment and locate and remember where objects are. This is accomplished by a built in infrared sensor that can capture three-dimensional images.
Although the HRP-2 is new to me, what little I can glean from the HRP-2 homepage (it’s in Japanese) leads me to believe the HRP line is at least a few years old. I personally don’t find it as aesthetically pleasing as Qrio, but it will help fill the void left in my heart by Sony’s recent poor judgement and lack of vision.