Researchers from the Korean Institute of Science and Technology's (KIST) Center for Intelligent Robotics (CIR) demonstrated their household service robot, CIROS, at Robot World 2012. CIROS, the third version of the robot since development began in 2005, is intended to help out around the home by performing simple chores.
According to a KIST official, CIROS is able to recognize common objects as well as kitchen appliances like microwaves, sinks, refrigerators, and dishwashers, and can move intelligently through its environment. The robot's artificial intelligence is the result of collaboration between robotics labs at several top-ranking Korean institutions including Seoul National University, the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Korea University, Sungkyukwan University, Sogang University, and the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH). As such, CIROS represents the latest in Korean robotics technology.
The robot's head contains stereoscopic cameras and a 3D IR sensor similar to the Microsoft Kinect, which it uses to recognize objects. Furthermore, robust speech recognition is made possible with a 12-piece microphone array. CIROS stands 5'3" (160 cm) tall, weighs a hefty 330 pounds (150 kg), and moves in any direction thanks to its wheeled base. It can detect and avoid obstacles in its vicinity thanks to a pair of laser range finders and six ultrasonic sensors in its body. And its dexterous hands, identical to those developed for HUBO (another robot developed separately at KAIST), can hold a variety of objects and tools.
Earlier versions of the robot poured beverages from juice dispensers, and delivered them on a serving tray. Photos from the lab suggest CIROS is also capable of intelligently loading and unloading a dishwasher. Eventually, the researchers plan to build and program a robot that can perform every step of serving a meal, from its preparation through to tidying up. That won't be a reality for several years, but progress is being made slowly but surely. Similar projects are also underway in the United States, Germany, and Japan, and researchers compete in RoboCup @Home, an annual competition to build household robots that can perform simple tasks like serving a bowl of cereal.
Besides CIROS, the researchers at KIST CIR are also developing a bipedal humanoid robot named KIBO, and educational robots designed to teach students English lessons. A separate lab at KIST also works on bipedal robots with technology giant Samsung.
Robot World 2012 ran from October 25 to 28, and attracted many businesses to display their industrial manufacturing robots, robot vacuum cleaners, commercial service robots, and educational toys and kits.