March 8, 2014 1:13 am JST

Hitachi robot avoids unpleasant run-ins with pedestrians

TOKYO -- Hitachi has revamped its Emiew 2 humanoid robot to better keep its distance from people in areas like intersections and doors by learning about its surroundings.

     The 14kg robot stands 80cm tall and can move at 6kph -- about as fast as a human. A neck-mounted sensor recognizes obstacles as well as pedestrians' locations and speeds. The new model maps out data collected by the sensor and uses it to prevent collisions.

     Information is gathered about high-traffic corners and people's walking speeds. This data is then used to predict where a pedestrian could suddenly appear in the robot's blind spot. The new Emiew 2 adjusts its path accordingly to avoid the area altogether or to slow down to prevent a collision. The stored information can be updated quickly, even for a new obstacle.

     Hitachi aims to apply the technology to surveillance and automated tours of exhibition halls, among other purposes. The Emiew 2 was originally developed in 2007.