New robots to help humans

2009-08-02 11:58

Valencia - Robots that can cook, dance to Michael Jackson songs or guide the blind are among the gadgets aimed at helping humans cope with illnesses on display in Spain at one of the world's biggest annual gatherings of new technology enthusiasts.

Standing 58cm high and with a plastic shell for a body, a humanoid robot called Nao drew a crowd at the Campus Party in Valencia as it danced to Jackson's "Billie Jean" with a black hat on its head.

"I am thrilled to be at the Campus Party!" it said in a mechanical voice in English.

The robot can recognise voices and faces and be instructed to turn on a personal computer, read e-mails or an online newspaper as well as be used to stimulate sufferers of Alzheimer's disease with memory exercises.

"It is a companion robot; at the same time it is a robot that can help with day to day tasks," said Romain Daros of French firm Aldebaran Robotics which designed Nao.

On sale in 2011

The company plans to start selling the robot in 2011 for between 3 000 and 3 500 euros.

Another star at the week-long event which wraps up on Sunday is a robot covered in artificial white fur called Paro that resembles a seal pup which can perceive people and its environment.

The cuddly robot has a diurnal rhythm, being active during the day but getting sleepy at night and reacts when it is spoken to or stroked.

It was designed by Japan's largest public research organisation, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, with the aim of helping people with cognitive problems like autism or dementia.

People with severe memory loss can be prone to psychiatric disturbances, including hallucinations and personality changes, and the robot can provide a way to calm them or at least shift their mood.

It is also useful in engaging children in paediatric wards and can help people with autism, who struggle to communicate socially and have trouble understanding facial expressions, learn how to interact better with others.

Help cook

"A seal was chosen because it does not arouse any emotional memories, like a dog or a cat would," said Ignacio Villoch, the marketing director of Spanish bank BBVA's innovation centre which is presenting the robot in Spain.

Paro is already available for sale in Japan and several northern European nations.

Just several metres away Sylvain Calinon of Switzerland's Federal Institute of Technology presented his robot, a "chef" that can cook.

Calinon said that unlike other robots, his "learns new gestures by imitation, by observation, without needing an intermediary" like a computer programmer.

The robot has already learned how to beat eggs and cut ham to make an omelette.

"We can imagine for example that it could feed people who can't feed themselves with their own hands," said Calinon.

The gathering at the futuristic "City of Arts and Sciences" also provided space for non-professionals to display their creations and many were also designed to aid ill or handicapped people even if they were more rudimentary.

One of them, Jose Alberto Garcia, proudly showed off his three-legged robot called Invigbot which emits a sound when it approaches an obstacle.

"He was conceived to serve as a guide for the blind," the 22-year-old said.

Around 6 000 people are expected to attend the Campus Party, which unites participants from all over the world to share ideas, experiences and all types of activities related to computers, communications and new technology.

The annual event began in Spain in 1997. Editions of the event have since been held in Brazil and Colombia.

Read more on:    robot

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Pro's and con's of accredited driver-training

We've gone through the trouble of highlighting what local businesses should look out doe when their employees undergo driver training.


Stay safe

Pro's and con's of accredited driver-training
Juvenile pillion riders? Play safe...
Need a family ride? SA's top Mommy Cars
Mom's driving-school dream come true
Traffic Alerts

It may be hard to be light and jovial at the moment as the list of obligations and jobs are growing and your energy levels more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.