Intelligent Machine Lab.

Director: Prof. Shigeki Sugano

The main research theme of this laboratory is the technology of Human-Robot Symbiosis. Many areas of research, such as safety mechanism and control, human-robot tactile communication, dexterous manipulation, physical and emotional communication between humans and robots, motion creation based on KANSEI, and mind (intelligence, emotion, will) mechanism in machine systems have been studied by developing the human symbiotic humanoid robot, WENDY and the autonomous robot, WAMOEBA.


Human Symbiotic Robot: WENDY

WENDY (Waseda ENgineering Designed sYmbiont) has been developed as a human symbiotic robot that has the capability of performing cooperative tasks with humans safely in shared working spaces such as in household, medical, and welfare facilities. WENDY, which is 150cm in height and 170kg in weight, is designed to carry out physical and emotional interaction with humans by utilizing the coordination motion of fifty-two degrees of freedom mechanism and environment recognition using CCD cameras.

Overview of WENDY-OS
Overview of RHICS

WENDY Operation and Simulation System

An integrated operation system, Wendy-OS that makes WENDY generate and execute various tasks has been developed. In addition, a simulation system, RHICS (Robot Human Interactive Communication System), which generates WENDY robot motion automatically in imitation of human motion, has been developed to study verbal and nonverbal communication with humans.


7-D.O.F. MIA Arm

In order to realize mechanically passive impedance control of a robot joint, we have proposed a new joint mechanism, MIA (Mechanical Impedance Adjuster), composed of a leaf spring as a compliance element and an electro-magnetic brake system as a pseudo damper inside. This mechanism enables robots to realize ideal joint impedance by adjustment of a spring factor and a damping factor. An anthropomorphic manipulator (7-D.O.F. MIA Arm) utilizing MIA in each joint has been developed so far, and it is the arm model of WENDY. The 7-D.O.F. MIA arm can realize highly mechanical compliance that is quite effective for absorbing and following the external force being applied from the environment, including humans.

Physical Interaction realizing force following and task fulfillment

Physical Interaction between Humans and Robots

Physical interference will frequently occur between humans and robots during collaboration. In order to perform tasks with humans safely and effectively, whole manipulator surface covers that can accurately detect tactile and force information have been introduced to WENDY. Based on these data, WENDY can realize diverse physical interaction with humans. In addition, the WENDY control system can calculate an appropriate motion plan intelligently based on the detected tactile and force information when it collides with humans. For example, WENDY can try not to spill the water from the glass that it is holding, at the same time as trying not to cause a human harm by making the movement of the arm follow a human movement.

13-DOF dexterous Hand



Human Mimetic Dexterous Hands

WENDY hands have been designed and developed from the viewpoint of human mimicry, incorporating dexterous task execution adapting to the environment designed for humans. Wendy fingers are equipped with six-axis force sensors at their base, human mimetic stiff nails, and compliant fingertips as well as a humanlike degrees-of-freedom structure. WENDY can adjust the pressure by changing the contact point on the fingertip. If the contact point is at the nail, WENDY puts a point load on the object. In the case of finger stomach contact, WENDY applies a pressure depending on the contact area. This function makes it possible for WENDY to grasp and operate complicated objects. Some experiments showed various tasks, such as egg-breaking and cucumber-cutting, required fine force control by utilizing the stiff nails and compliant fingertips of its 13-D.O.F. dexterous hands.

Violin Playing Robot

Kansei and Motion Control toward the Development of the Violin Playing Robot

A violin-playing robot has been developed to improve robot dexterity from the point of view of KANSEI information processing. At the first stage of this research, we are trying to clarify the relationship between KANSEI and human motion using an automatic violin-playing system. With this system, many kinds of playing motions and sounds depending on the varied playing parameters, such as bowing speed, bowing pressure, etc. can be evaluated. This system, which is integrated as a multi-agent system, can also play the same melody in different ways according to the conditions of KANSEI information given by the operator.


Emotional Communication Robot: WAMOEBA-2R

The purpose of this research is to derive a robot design method which produces intelligence and emotion that is equal to humans, and to enhance the communication ability of the robot. We propose a methodology which introduces the mechanism and control based on "self-preservation" which is a basic criterion of humans' and animals' survival function. An autonomous robot, WAMOEBA-2R (an Ameba in Waseda, Waseda Artificial Mind On Emotion BAse) is a practical model to demonstrate our design method. We are studying the process which emotion and communication intelligence develops into from self-preservation by using WAMOEBA-2R.

Emotional Expression Color

Endocrine system model (Emotion model)

The internal secretion system which relates to a living body has been introduced in WAMOEBA-2R. It supervises and controls the voltage of the battery, the temperature of the circuit and the electrical current etc. based on the self-preservation criterion. WAMOEBA-2R can express its condition, what we call "emotion", by displaying a color on the monitor or by changing the tone of its voice.

'99 International Robot Exhibition

Evaluation Experiments

In order to evaluate WAMOEBA-2R, demonstrations and questionnaire experiments were carried out at the '99 International Robot Exhibition held at "Tokyo Big Site," which about 150,000 people attended.

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