The world's first exposition of personal human partner robots was held in Yokohama, Japan over the course of 3 days from November 24th to 26th. The exposition entitled 'Robodex 2000' aimed to encourage and develop the personal robot industry where robots can live together with people. People came from all over the world to see our new friends created by humans.
"It's worth standing in a line for four hours", an old man muttered looking at the Sony's dancing robot 'SDR-3X'. What kind of future did he see while looking at this robot? Some people were making sure of their seats more then 30 minutes before in order to see 'the starting of 100 AIBOs all together' which was held at a main floor. There were also many people who wanted to get their photographs taken with the Honda robots.
At this moment in time, the personal robots are of no practical use. Nevertheless, everyone who gathered at this exposition was really excited with everything the robots performed. Great shouts of joy arose from the crowd when the Honda 'P3' was going down the stairs. It was an expression of their expectations for the bright future. Everyone may have got a feeling of reality that the future they've dreamt of since their childhood would be closer.
Now I would like to introduce some impressive robots.
'T-5', a robot for made to deal with natural calamities by Tmsuk Communication Technology. It was created on the assumption that it could do rescue work in environments hostile to people. It's no more than a prototype, but many people's eyes were glued to the robot with a brave figure and hidden potential. I really hope that Mark Pauline uses this robot for his performance.
Honda Humanoid robot P3 made a great sensation and received admiration from the world since its appearance was also exhibited together with the previous models 'P1' and 'P2'. P3's walks with two legs. The figure walking unsteadily step by step was just like a human, and it gave me a strange feeling of wrongness.
One of the highlights of this exposition was Honda's latest robot 'Asimo' (left). It has more advanced walking technology and is both smaller and lighter than 'P3' (Asimo : height 120cm, weight 43kg / P3 : height 160cm, weight 130kg). It was designed to fit into the living space of a human. The robot tells us that the Honda team has continued developing their robots to make them practical for our lives. Another one is Sony 'SDR-3X' that could walk with two legs by itself (right). It uses the same architecture as Aibo and the height is 50cm smaller than Asimo. It also has a ability to control wide variety of movements including dancing.
Bandai 'WonderBorg' (left), an insect shaped robot that can be easily programmed. It can be customized as you like in both software and hardware, and it's because Bandai is a toy maker.
Takara 'Aquaroid' (right) is the world's first breeding robot. It keeps working semipermanently using a fluorescent light installed on the upper part of a water tank and solar batteries installed inside the body, but an archenemy of Aquaroid are the scales that forms on the body and walls of the aquarium. You have to take care of it regularly. It's a new type of robot with the concept 'Do nothing', and it's on the market now.
This exposition drew audiences totalling more than 500,000 people, and it could encourage developers. The thing is that so many people in the world have put their hopes on personal robots. This Robodex will be an annual exposition beginning next year. A society where the human and robots live together. The future is full of pleasures.
Date: November 24th to 26th. 2000
Place: Yokohama, Japan
Text and Photo: Iyomasa Yoshikazu
Translation: Mayumi Kaneko