The only thing better than state-of-the-art robotics is when it's combined with Force 9 cuteness. Japanese electronics company Murata Manufacturing has given us one example with the unveiling if its robotic Cheerleaders. The squad of ten ball-mounted robots uses advanced ultrasonics, infrared, and group control technology to perform synchronized dance routines with perfect stability.
The Cheerleaders were built in collaboration with Matsuno Lab at Kyoto University and represent Murata’s fourth generation of robots. The design is based on the company’s bicycle-riding Murata Boy and unicycle-riding Murata Boy, though the Cheerleader robots are designed to represent "elementary school students full of energy and curiosity," and each stands 36 cm (14 in) tall and weighs 1.5 kg (3.3 lb).
Instead of running on wheels, the Cheerleader robot balances on a detached ball using three gyro sensors for balance along with the inverted-pendulum control technology with the robot’s light-up pom poms acting as active balancing weights. The robots carry out synchronized dance routines using real-time position measurement consisting of ultrasonic microphones, which measure positions and distances by means of ultrasonic pulses, and four infrared sensors that monitor location using flashes of IR light. All of this is coordinated by a central control system using a wireless communication network.
With each sporting tricolor LEDs, the Cheerleaders run on a one-hour battery charge, can travel at 30 cm per second (11.8 in/sec) and operate on a 4 m x 4 m (13 ft x 13 ft) surface.
Murata sees applications for the technology in areas such as vehicle and transportation systems.
"The Murata Cheerleaders showcase the ability of electronics to enrich our lives," says Yuichi Kojima, Senior Vice President and Deputy Director of Murata’s Technology and Business Development Unit. "We believe that the wireless communication of sensor data could become a core infrastructure for the advanced integration of people and objects in smart societies."
Murata will exhibit its cheerleaders in Tokyo at the CEATEC 2014, which runs from October 7 to 11.
The video below shows the Murata Cheerleaders in action.