Fujitsu offers humanoid robot kit

TOKYO — Engineers from Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. will present technical details next week of a miniature humanoid robot whose movements can be programmed by users. The robot, to be discussed at Tokyo University during a meeting of the Robotics Society of Japan, targets researchers working with robotic technologies.

Hoap-1 (for Humanoid for Open Architecture Platform) will initially be sold only in Japan at a cost of $41,000 each. Fujitsu Automation Ltd., which developed Hoap-1 with Fujitsu Labs, plans to sell 100 copies within three years.

"Hoap-1 is the world's first attempt to sell a humanoid robot that users can program freely," said Yusuke Yasukawa, senior researcher at Peripheral Systems Laboratories at Fujitsu Labs, a wholly owned Fujitsu Ltd. research center. "Through collaboration with various researchers, we found that many [of them] want to have this type of robot for their study. So our target is professors in universities and researchers in laboratories."

Two-legged walking

The robot stands more than 18 inches tall, weighs over 13 pounds and has 12° of freedom of movement in its legs and 8° in its hands. Accompanying simulation software can help users write motion control algorithms for such things as two-legged walking and research on human-to-robot communication links, the company said.

Fujitsu will also provide software with the robot so that users can simulate the control programs that they develop before implementation.

The basic simulation software and user-developed programs run on RT-Linux on a PC. The PC communicates with the robot through a 12-Mbit/second Universal Serial Bus interface, controlling internal sensors and motors. The interface and internal network work on a 1-millisecond control cycle. Power supply is 24 volts x 6.2 amps (150 watts).

"We are going to a keep a close relationship with Hoap-1 users by exchanging research results. Like Linux development, we hope Hoap-1 will evolve to a common robot platform [through the collaboration of researchers]," said Yasukawa.

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