Wed, Oct 10, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Humanoid performing robot debuts

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

"Janet," a robot entertainer developed by researchers at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, shakes hands with professor Lin Qi-yu in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: SHEN HUI-YUAN, TAIPEI TIMES

Taiwan's first humanoid robot performer "Janet," which can speak, sing and walk, made its debut at a news conference on Monday.

"Janet" was unveiled ahead of the 11th National University and Technical College Creative Robot Design and Manufacturing Contest organized by the Ministry of Education. The contest will be held Oct. 19 to Oct. 21 at Cheng Shiu University in Kaohsiung County.

Lin Chi-yu (林其禹), a professor at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST), whose researchers developed Janet over two years, said the school plans to create a similar robot -- to be named "Thomas."

Lin said the two robots would be used on a trial basis in performances for disadvantaged groups beginning next summer before making their international debut.

Automaker Honda created ASIMO, the world's most advanced humanoid robot, but ASIMO has no facial features or performance-related functions, Lin said.

The HUBO robot developed by Oh Jun-ho, a professor at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, can display facial expressions, but lacks the capability to stage a show, he said.

"Janet" was developed to have interactive and performing functions, Lin said, adding that the state-of-the-art performing technology was created through the concerted efforts of NTUSC and several Japanese robotics labs.

Seven professors and scores of doctoral and masters degree students at NTUSC took part in Janet's development, Lin said.

He said the hardware needed to build the robot cost NT$10 million (US$307,000).

Lin said the team plans to set up a "Taiwanese robotic theater" in major amusement parks around the world in five years.

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