Robotics

Robot future: Highlights from iREX 2015

The Rise of the Robots at iREX 2015
The Rise of the Robots at iREX 2015
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DENSO's new HSR (High Speed Robot) called SCARA demonstrates its 90 cycles per minute maximum speed
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DENSO's new HSR (High Speed Robot) called SCARA demonstrates its 90 cycles per minute maximum speed
ABB's COBOTS (Co-operation Robot) giving visitors chocolates
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ABB's COBOTS (Co-operation Robot) giving visitors chocolates
Epson Robots had its new Autonomous Dual Arm Robot on display. This prototype could see, feel and react
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Epson Robots had its new Autonomous Dual Arm Robot on display. This prototype could see, feel and react
This Epson Robot was able to assemble two completely different products from what looked like a fairly messy work station
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This Epson Robot was able to assemble two completely different products from what looked like a fairly messy work station
The Epson Robot definitely showed diligence and care in its work
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The Epson Robot definitely showed diligence and care in its work
Rethink announced it is bringing its Sawyerrobot to Japan at iREX 2015
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Rethink announced it is bringing its Sawyerrobot to Japan at iREX 2015
Sawyer's movements can be programed by simply guiding its arm to and from the target
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Sawyer's movements can be programed by simply guiding its arm to and from the target
Showing total concentration is the MZ07 dual arm assembly robot from NACHI
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Showing total concentration is the MZ07 dual arm assembly robot from NACHI
Also on the NACHI stand were these two large spot welding robots
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Also on the NACHI stand were these two large spot welding robots
Lines of Robots on the IAI stand, all moving in unison
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Lines of Robots on the IAI stand, all moving in unison
The SWAN 1600-4T from TAICUBO is designed to paint small metal parts in a confined work station
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The SWAN 1600-4T from TAICUBO is designed to paint small metal parts in a confined work station
DAIHEN's Application robot displaying its accuracy in applying layers of sealant
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DAIHEN's Application robot displaying its accuracy in applying layers of sealant
The NACHI LP130F high speed pallet system has the ability to handle 1800 pieces per hour
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The NACHI LP130F high speed pallet system has the ability to handle 1800 pieces per hour
The biggest robot at the show was able to lift a 1700 kg car and move around as if it were a toy
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The biggest robot at the show was able to lift a 1700 kg car and move around as if it were a toy
The NEXTAGE robot on the KAWADA stand displayed its dexterity by assembling a small robot kit of itself
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The NEXTAGE robot on the KAWADA stand displayed its dexterity by assembling a small robot kit of itself
Featuring stereo vision and image recognition, the NEXTAGE robot is designed to coexist with human workers within a factory environment
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Featuring stereo vision and image recognition, the NEXTAGE robot is designed to coexist with human workers within a factory environment
KUKA's KMR iiwa "Mobile Robotics intelligent industrial work assistant" is designed to operate in either a closed or mixed human robot environment
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KUKA's KMR iiwa "Mobile Robotics intelligent industrial work assistant" is designed to operate in either a closed or mixed human robot environment
KMR iiwa's arm is mounted on a omnidirectional platform for freedom of movement in tight spaces
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KMR iiwa's arm is mounted on a omnidirectional platform for freedom of movement in tight spaces
KUKA's remote control robot handed out sweets to all the visitors
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KUKA's remote control robot handed out sweets to all the visitors
HiBot's THESBOT is designed to operate in pipes – this version is able to negotiate elbow and T joints
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HiBot's THESBOT is designed to operate in pipes – this version is able to negotiate elbow and T joints
Also from HiBot is the new version of the ACM-R5H, know as the Mechapythonides amphibia, which means Amphibious snake-like robot
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Also from HiBot is the new version of the ACM-R5H, know as the Mechapythonides amphibia, which means Amphibious snake-like robot
The ACM-R5H inspection robot carries a front mounted camera. Propulsion is by the simple side to side movement of its body, so the operator just controls the direction and speed.
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The ACM-R5H inspection robot carries a front mounted camera. Propulsion is by the simple side to side movement of its body, so the operator just controls the direction and speed.
The ACM-R5H inspection robot carries a front mounted camera. Propulsion is by the simple side to side movement of its body, so the operator just controls the direction and speed. It can also operate on land.
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The ACM-R5H inspection robot carries a front mounted camera. Propulsion is by the simple side to side movement of its body, so the operator just controls the direction and speed. It can also operate on land.
The NDIC (Non-Destructive Inspection CO Ltd) CLIMBER uses suction power to climb many different surfaces such as windturbine masts and dams. It weighs 25 kg and has a maximum speed of 70mm/sec.
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The NDIC (Non-Destructive Inspection CO Ltd) CLIMBER uses suction power to climb many different surfaces such as windturbine masts and dams. It weighs 25 kg and has a maximum speed of 70mm/sec.
An inspection platform robot from NACHI moving its amphibious cargo
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An inspection platform robot from NACHI moving its amphibious cargo
The largest Cobot from FANUCS has a lifting capacity of 35 kg
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The largest Cobot from FANUCS has a lifting capacity of 35 kg
CORO from Life Robotics demonstrates the close proximity in which a human and a robot can safely work together
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CORO from Life Robotics demonstrates the close proximity in which a human and a robot can safely work together
CORO has no elbow, relying on rotation of the body and extension of the main arm, which Life Robotics says makes it safer to work alongsside
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CORO has no elbow, relying on rotation of the body and extension of the main arm, which Life Robotics says makes it safer to work alongsside
Many of Japan's elderly citizens are keener to walk than ride on a small mobility vehicles –  the RT1 power assist walker is designed to help facilitate this by taking the strain uphill climbs and carrying goods
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Many of Japan's elderly citizens are keener to walk than ride on a small mobility vehicles –  the RT1 power assist walker is designed to help facilitate this by taking the strain uphill climbs and carrying goods
Toyota's HSR (Human Support Robot) is designed to provide home help for the elderly or handicapped person. It sees using three types of cameras and can be controlled by voice commands or your smart phone or tablet.
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Toyota's HSR (Human Support Robot) is designed to provide home help for the elderly or handicapped person. It sees using three types of cameras and can be controlled by voice commands or your smart phone or tablet.
HSR demonstrating its Pick-up function
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HSR demonstrating its Pick-up function
Sota the Social Talker – an interactive robot from Vstone
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Sota the Social Talker – an interactive robot from Vstone
Standing at the same height as a 7 year-old child, the RIC 90 (Robot In Character) is a concept robot by RT corporation that's designed to interact with children
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Standing at the same height as a 7 year-old child, the RIC 90 (Robot In Character) is a concept robot by RT corporation that's designed to interact with children
Pepper the Robot was the most numerous robot at the show with many examples spread around the halls
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Pepper the Robot was the most numerous robot at the show with many examples spread around the halls
Looking like a cross between Lego and Meccano, this robot giraffe is an example of what can be made from a prototype kit called Delta 2 from UBTECH Robotics. It is due for release in 2016
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Looking like a cross between Lego and Meccano, this robot giraffe is an example of what can be made from a prototype kit called Delta 2 from UBTECH Robotics. It is due for release in 2016
Other examples of what kind of animals you can make with this servo based kit from UBTECH – the elephant in the foreground includes 17 servos
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Other examples of what kind of animals you can make with this servo based kit from UBTECH – the elephant in the foreground includes 17 servos
ROBOTIS MINIs from Korean company ROBOTIS can be programmed or directly controlled through an app on your smartphone or tablet
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ROBOTIS MINIs from Korean company ROBOTIS can be programmed or directly controlled through an app on your smartphone or tablet
Software for UBTECH's kit robots is open source
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Software for UBTECH's kit robots is open source
This DIY elephant is an example of what can be made from a prototype kit called Delta 2 from UBTECH Robotics
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This DIY elephant is an example of what can be made from a prototype kit called Delta 2 from UBTECH Robotics
Displayed as a concept by Muscle Corporation, the QLOGO is a mannequin designed to bring the shop window to life and attract the passerby to stop and stare- which visitors definitely did at the show. Each QLOGO mannequins has motors mounted in the neck, both shoulders and both elbows. The company has plans to make one of the legs move as well and maybe even incorporate motion tracking software, so they only come to life when a passerby approaches.
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Displayed as a concept by Muscle Corporation, the QLOGO is a mannequin designed to bring the shop window to life and attract the passerby to stop and stare- which visitors definitely did at the show. Each QLOGO mannequins has motors mounted in the neck, both shoulders and both elbows. The company has plans to make one of the legs move as well and maybe even incorporate motion tracking software, so they only come to life when a passerby approaches.
Toshiba's second generation Junko Chihira humanoid robot is set to start work in Tokyo at an information booth where she will answer visitors questions in English, Japanese and Mandarin
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Toshiba's second generation Junko Chihira humanoid robot is set to start work in Tokyo at an information booth where she will answer visitors questions in English, Japanese and Mandarin
Leonardo da Vinci Android Initiative: Created by Minoru Asada, a professor of adaptive machine systems from Osaka, this familiar looking humanoid robot aims to teach children about just how amazing Leonardo da Vinci was – and what better way to do it than to let the great man speak about his work in his own words.
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Leonardo da Vinci Android Initiative: Created by Minoru Asada, a professor of adaptive machine systems from Osaka, this familiar looking humanoid robot aims to teach children about just how amazing Leonardo da Vinci was – and what better way to do it than to let the great man speak about his work in his own words.
The Leonardo da Vinci robot was first exhibited this year at the Milano Expo in Italy
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The Leonardo da Vinci robot was first exhibited this year at the Milano Expo in Italy
The DER2 from Kokoro-dreams has undergone several updates and "makeovers" since she first appeared in 2006
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The DER2 from Kokoro-dreams has undergone several updates and "makeovers" since she first appeared in 2006
DER2 is an "actroid" with a full range of upper body movements together with many realistic facial expressions. These features combine together to make her verbal presentations just that little bit more real – a really amazing Robot to see in person
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DER2 is an "actroid" with a full range of upper body movements together with many realistic facial expressions. These features combine together to make her verbal presentations just that little bit more real – a really amazing Robot to see in person
The most impressive feature was DER2 controlled the movement of her hands
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The most impressive feature was DER2 controlled the movement of her hands
When the actroid expresses a point she uses both hands in a natural way
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When the actroid expresses a point she uses both hands in a natural way
Agriculture in Japan will soon face a real labor storage, with the average age of farmers currently at 66. Robotics is looking to assist - pictured is a robotic riceplanter
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Agriculture in Japan will soon face a real labor storage, with the average age of farmers currently at 66. Robotics is looking to assist - pictured is a robotic riceplanter
A rice planter from ISEKI
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A rice planter from ISEKI
The RAKU VEST supports your elbows and allows fruit workers to pick or prune away in comfort
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The RAKU VEST supports your elbows and allows fruit workers to pick or prune away in comfort
This student-designed robot allows the user to concentrate on planting seeds or picking fruit as it automatically controls the direction and speed
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This student-designed robot allows the user to concentrate on planting seeds or picking fruit as it automatically controls the direction and speed
Japanese manufacturer Yanmar aims to have a Robot Tractor on the market soon. Prototypes are currently being tested in four areas in Japan doing various farming operations. The principal is that the robot tractor works in conjunction with a human-driven one that's doing a related task
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Japanese manufacturer Yanmar aims to have a Robot Tractor on the market soon. Prototypes are currently being tested in four areas in Japan doing various farming operations. The principal is that the robot tractor works in conjunction with a human-driven one that's doing a related task
This robot picker from Panasonic is delicate enough to handle tomatoes
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This robot picker from Panasonic is delicate enough to handle tomatoes
The Unplugged Power suit helps you to run or walk while requiring no batteries
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The Unplugged Power suit helps you to run or walk while requiring no batteries
Developed by Utsunomiya University, Erie is another robot designed to coexist with humans
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Developed by Utsunomiya University, Erie is another robot designed to coexist with humans
This two wheeled balancing robot was on the Japan Society of Engineers stand. It is designed to explore the concept of a gyro-actuator control for a two wheeld, human carrying robot
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This two wheeled balancing robot was on the Japan Society of Engineers stand. It is designed to explore the concept of a gyro-actuator control for a two wheeld, human carrying robot
This wooden hand is computer-controlled via fishing lines that act as tendons and muscles to both pull in both directions. We played Rock Paper Scissors with it, and lost!
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This wooden hand is computer-controlled via fishing lines that act as tendons and muscles to both pull in both directions. We played Rock Paper Scissors with it, and lost!
Another, smaller version of the robotic hand
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Another, smaller version of the robotic hand
The "father" of the robot vacuum cleaner Dr Rodney Brooks was on hand at iREX 2015
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The "father" of the robot vacuum cleaner Dr Rodney Brooks was on hand at iREX 2015
The Rise of the Robots at iREX 2015
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The Rise of the Robots at iREX 2015

The biennial International Robot Exhibition is billed as the largest robot trade show in the world. Gizmag went along to this month's 21st edition in Tokyo, which attracted more companies and 20 percent more visitors than iREX 2013, to check out the latest developments in the world of robotics.

Under the theme "Making a Future with Robots" iREX 2015 was divided into two main sections – Service Robots and Industrial Robots. There was also an area devoted to the latest roboticsresearch and development being done by universities and institutions. It is also notable that 2015 marks the beginning of the Japanese government's Robot Revolution Initiative – a five year mission is to create and nurture relationships between enterprises, business associations and research institutions.

Here's a quick look at some of the highlights.

Industrial robots

Examples of industrial robots abound at IREX and 2015 was no exception. From manufacturing and assembly robots to oddly-shaped inspection robots, the exhibitions displayed a high degree of speed, artificial intelligence and autonomy.

DENSO's new HSR (High Speed Robot) called SCARA demonstrates its 90 cycles per minute maximum speed
DENSO's new HSR (High Speed Robot) called SCARA demonstrates its 90 cycles per minute maximum speed

One idea for this upgrade is that their workstation does not need to be so ordered or well laid out as before. It also allows a much higher level of variability within the assemble process, so undertaking consecutive, but totally different builds. There are also special cases when an inspection robot needs to make an on the spot decision on how to proceed. It was notable though, that a human operator was ever present in the background and with their hand covering a large RED OFF BUTTON.

This Epson Robot was able to assemble two completely different products from what looked like a fairly messy work station
This Epson Robot was able to assemble two completely different products from what looked like a fairly messy work station

Several companies focussed on co-robots designed to team up with, rather than replace humans on the factory floor and elsewhere.

CORO from Life Robotics demonstrates the close proximity in which a human and a robot can safely work together
CORO from Life Robotics demonstrates the close proximity in which a human and a robot can safely work together

The future of agriculture was also in the spotlight at iREX 2015 – an issue that's particlarly important in Japan where the average age of a farmer is getting very close to the legal retirement age. Kubota, Iseki and Yanmar were among the companies exhibiting robotic products designed to help with the high physical and repetitive workloads in cultivating, planting and harvesting the land.

This student-designed robot allows the user to concentrate on planting seeds or picking fruit as it automatically controls the direction and speed
This student-designed robot allows the user to concentrate on planting seeds or picking fruit as it automatically controls the direction and speed

Japanese manufacturer Yanmar aims to have a Robot Tractor on the market soon. Prototypes are currently being tested in four areas in Japan doing various farming operations. The principal is that the robot tractor works in conjunction with a human-driven one that's doing a related task
Japanese manufacturer Yanmar aims to have a Robot Tractor on the market soon. Prototypes are currently being tested in four areas in Japan doing various farming operations. The principal is that the robot tractor works in conjunction with a human-driven one that's doing a related task

Service Robots

Robots that help aging populations retains their independence represent a key growth sector within the robotics industry. In addition to providing assistance in physical tasks, these types of robots are increasingly designed to monitor feeling and mood to form a personal relationship with human users.

Toyota's HSR (Human Support Robot) is designed to provide home help for the elderly or handicapped person. It sees using three types of cameras and can be controlled by voice commands or your smart phone or tablet.
Toyota's HSR (Human Support Robot) is designed to provide home help for the elderly or handicapped person. It sees using three types of cameras and can be controlled by voice commands or your smart phone or tablet.

Many of Japan's elderly citizens are keener to walk than ride on a small mobility vehicles –  the RT1 power assist walker is designed to help facilitate this by taking the strain uphill climbs and carrying goods
Many of Japan's elderly citizens are keener to walk than ride on a small mobility vehicles –  the RT1 power assist walker is designed to help facilitate this by taking the strain uphill climbs and carrying goods


Entertainment, education and humanoid robots

From sophisticated DIY robot kits to cute character robots designed to chat with 7-year olds and unnerving humanoids, iREX did not disappoint in 2015. Visit our iREX 2015 photo gallery to check out more of the highlights from the show floor.

This DIY elephant is an example of what can be made from a prototype kit called Delta 2 from UBTECH Robotics
This DIY elephant is an example of what can be made from a prototype kit called Delta 2 from UBTECH Robotics

Leonardo da Vinci Android Initiative: Created by Minoru Asada, a professor of adaptive machine systems from Osaka, this familiar looking humanoid robot aims to teach children about just how amazing Leonardo da Vinci was – and what better way to do it than to let the great man speak about his work in his own words.
Leonardo da Vinci Android Initiative: Created by Minoru Asada, a professor of adaptive machine systems from Osaka, this familiar looking humanoid robot aims to teach children about just how amazing Leonardo da Vinci was – and what better way to do it than to let the great man speak about his work in his own words.

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