Twendy-One Robot Is Your Humanoid Helper

Twendy-One is a new and improved robot from Waseda University in Japan. The unusual name derives from the name of its predecessor (and sister bot), Wendy. Japan is anticipating a labor shortage in human services (the country has the greatest proportion of senior citizens in the world), and is determined to meet the challenge with robots.


(Twendy-One is ready to assist you)

Twendy-One also the soft touch needed for those essential breakfast tasks like taking toast out of the toaster. Twendy-One has enough strength to serve you breakfast. The trunk of the robot has four degrees of freedom to allow it to bend all the way to the floor to pick up an object, or to wipe up a spill so you won't fall. Twendy-One has the same arm length and reach as an average human woman; the hand has thirteen degrees of freedom for necessary dexterity.


(Twendy-One uses tongs delicately to remove toast)

Twendy-One's hand is biomimetic - it mimics your hand. The fingertips are made of soft material and has a gentle curved surface like a human hand. The fingertips have a six-axis force sensor, and additional distributed force sensors. Twendy-One can pick up and handle delicate objects like paper cups or soft plastic items without crushing them. It can even manipulate a straw!


(Twendy-One has a hand like yours - note the pad at the base of the thumb)

Twendy-one's head does more than just contain two CCD cameras and a force sensor (to detect a touch to the head). The robot can angle and tilt its head like a human being does to indicate intention - like asking a question or nodding to indicate assent.

Compare Twendy-One with this detailed look at RI-MAN, a Japanese health care robot; it has a smell sensor and face tracking, in addition to tactile sensor-guided movement.

Update 15-Apr-2008: See Flexible Frank from Robert Heinlein's The Door Into Summer for a good match on this one (thanks, Pete). End update.

See Twendy-One pick up a ball from the floor. Via RobotWatch; see also the Twendy-One website.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/28/2007)

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