EMIEW2: Hitachi updates its cute humanoid robot

We last blogged about EMIEW2, a two-legged robot made by Hitachi, in July 2008. The main selling point was (and still is) an array of 14 microphones integrated into his head, enabling him to identify three different human voices simultaneously.

But up until now, EMIEW2 tended to easily fall over on bumpy surfaces, which isn’t really ideal for a humanoid that’s supposed to one day serve as a receptionist and “walking” guide. That’s why Hitachi has been working on a sophisticated suspension system for his wheels that helps the new version maintain its balance in certain situations.

In the case of EMIEW2 running over the edge of a rug, for example, a sensor built into his body detects his body position and automatically adjusts the length of the springs attached to the wheels, preventing the robot from toppling over. If a wheel loses contact with the ground, it automatically stops rotating, lowering the chance of the robot falling over.

Hitachi says the previous EMIEW2 models had problems with bumps that were just a few millimeters high. But the updated version is able to handle bumps that are up to 1.5cm high. EMIEW2 himself stands 80cm tall, weighs 13kg and can run as fast as 6km/h.

Via The Nikkei [registration required, paid subscription]