Saturday, August 25, 2007

the science museum

Yesterday's tour gave us only 45 minutes at the museum, so we returned there today to explore further. My very weak command of the language meant I caught about half of what was going on, but we both enjoyed ourselves.

Japan's one of th world leaders (if not the world leader) in robotics, so the robotics demonstrations were a definite high point. They had huge crowds for Asimo:

The robot moves fairly quickly and reasonably fluidly, though it has an odd knees-bent gait. When it runs, it's really more of a fast walk, because there's never a time when both feet are off the floor simultaneously.

One of the more interesting robots was the Hull / Halluc 2 combo.

This robot is more of a remotely piloted vehicle. The operator gives it commands telling it directions to move and/or turn, it provides force feedback depending on how close it is to obstacles, and it makes its own decisions about how to move its wheels or legs to move the body in whatever direction the operator wants. The insect-like design gives the robot tremendous flexibility in how it moves: rolling on wheels, walking with its wheels, or flipping its legs around and walking on its axles as this clip shows:

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