Thu, Nov 22, 2012 - Page 4 News List

University unveils robots for sports, housekeeping

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Robots May, left, and David play basketball at a press conference held by the National Science Council to introduce the two robots yesterday.

Photo: CNA

A laboratory at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) has developed two human-sized robots that can engage in a variety of sports activities and help with household chores.

The robots have won International robot championship awards, and represent an advancement in domestic-designed robots for the household environment, the university said.

At a seminar at the National Science Council yesterday, the aiRobots Laboratory, led by NCKU electrical engineering professor Li Tzuu-hseng (李祖聖), demonstrated the abilities of the robots.

One robot walks on two legs and is capable of many sport movements (“David”) and the other is a household service robot (“May”).

Li said the most difficult part of designing David was to make it balance and move on two legs, but it has demonstrated outstanding performances in basketball, weightlifting, obstacle course, sprint and penalty-kick competitions at the Federation of International Robot-soccer Association’s (FIRA) RoboWorld Cup events in recent years, even coming second last year.

Robot May said: “I will start to follow you,” “Do you want soda?” and “Are your ready? Be careful,” after receiving voice commands from a member of the research team, and was able to differentiate between different bottled drinks to bring the person the soft drink they requested.

Both robots are equipped with a vision and strategy system so that they can learn to recognize objects, the surrounding environment and even faces, which are viewed using a video camera, Li said.

Although the robots can already perform several functions and interact with humans, Li said it may still take at least five years for household service robots to enter people’s homes.

Li said that there remain challenges ahead in designing the robots to understand Chinese, Taiwanese or Hakka, establishing regulations on the use of robots and producing robots at affordable prices for consumers.

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