Hitachi presents smaller robot, but glitches persist

The new toddler-like robot from Hitachi rolled around and waved in a demonstration Wednesday before crashing into a desk, highlighting the hurdles robots must overcome to become real-life partners.

Never mind that the 80-centimeter, or 30-inch, machine could scoot on two wheels, get on its knees to move on four wheels and even lift its foot three centimeters to step over thresholds and bumps.

The red-and-white robot, which weighs 13 kilograms, or almost 29 pounds, and is designed to work as a guide and run errands in offices, was not prepared for the wireless and Internet traffic jam during lunchtime at Hitachi’s research center and smashed into a desk in the middle of a demonstration.

Reporters gasped and a demonstrator reached out in the nick of time to catch the robot by its wing-like handles before it toppled over, unable to receive the wireless commands from the person controlling the robot by remote from a nearby laptop.

Robots are now mostly used as industrial machinery and entertainment gadgets. But Hitachi’s new robot is the latest attempt by several Japanese companies to develop one that can play roles as assistants in daily life.

Source:  International Herald Tribune

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