Better known for producing the world's most advanced exoskeletons, Japan's Cyberdyne is expanding its portfolio with a new as-yet-unnamed industrial cleaning robot for very large areas such as factories and warehouses.
The first and current model in the Cyberdyne Industrial Cleaning Robot range follows magnetic tape around the factory to do its chores, and sells for JPY9,000,000 (approximately US$90,000).
The latest soon-to-be-released model employs a Sony Playstation controller which is used to direct the cleaner around its designated cleaning areas, then thanks to its greater intelligence and laser range finder, it remembers its areas of responsibility and can do the job on its own from that point. Alternatively, the robot can also explore the area and build its own internal map.
No fixed date has been set for the release of the new model, though we expect there will be a considerable queue for the machine, as Cyberdyne is shaping as a "Rolls-Royce" brand name in the assistive-limb, robot-suit and exoskeleton arenas and there's every reason to believe its industrial cleaning equipment will be viewed similarly.
What's more, when we saw the unit on the floor of the International Robotics Expo in Tokyo yesterday, the Cyberdyne rep dropped a clincher into the conversation – the new model will be cheaper than the last model – with a sales pitch like that, we don't expect they're planning on selling many more of the current model.
Cyberdyne's Robot Suit HAL is regarded as the most advanced robotic suit available, and yes, if the word HAL is familiar, it's because Cyberdyne's founder Yoshiyuki Sankai, a professor at the University of Tsukuba, saw Stanley Kubrick's 2001: a Space Odyssey too, and liked the reference.
Professor Sankai is no evil genius though, and has vowed his technology will never be used to harm a human being, or in any capacity on the battlefield.