Hitachi brings robotics to hospitality and healthcare

Tech October 18, 2018 01:00


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HITACHI will introduce a humanoid robot and robotics IT platform for the hospitality and reservation services market early next year.

The platform, called EMIEW 3, was developed with 30 units as prototypes for testing in locations such as Haneda international airport in Japan and a railway station in that country.

The firm is also developing robotics systems to help in the care of the elderly.

Shinichi Shitara, senior manager at the robotics business promotion department under the global solution division of Hitachi, said that the firm had spent five years developing the third generation of a humanoid robot named EMIEW 3 (Emu three) – standing for excellent mobility and interactive existence as workmate. It is a humanoid robot with an enhanced degree of autonomy based on EMIEW and EMIEW 2. A remote brain consisting of control functions deployed on the cloud and a robot monitoring system forms the robotics IT platform. When combined with EMIEW 3, it enables support in customer and guidance services. It features a 14CH-microphone array on the head, front and back cameras, speaker, protector, Gyro, laser imago detection and ranging (Lidar), Li-Fe battery and four-wheel locomotion. It is able to stand up by itself.

The EMIEW 3 is 90cm high and weighs 15 kg. It moves smoothly indoors and can walk at a maximum speed of 6 km/hour with a maximum step length of 15 mm. It can work for around two to three hours and connect to the network with the Wi-Fi 11a/g/n standard. The robotic realised autonomous mobile capability uses sensors and a locomotion system, with field data collected from microphone arrays and cameras. 

The EMIEW 3 serves as helper in situations such as responding to any question with a broad and deep knowledge of its assigned territory, contributing to customers’ satisfaction and operational efficiency. The EMIEW3 recognises three languages: Japanese, English and Chinese. 

“I think that the EMIEW 3 is a robot that can communicate with humans and provide real business support,” said Shitara. “It is engaged with human communication, autonomous regions mobility, and artificial intelligence (AI). This means the robot is capable of safely co-existing with humans to provide necessary services with advanced engagement skills.”

He said that the firm expects that it will officially release the EMIEW 3 in Japan in the 2018 fiscal year (April 2018 to March 2019). The firm plans make the product available in the US and Southeast Asia at a later stage.

Hitachi also has plans to come out with EMIEW –TT. This is an application for tablets with the machine capable of multilingual conversation and multilingual reception. 

It will be able to handle customer services with the EMIEW 3 avatar from a tablet. It supports active-learning dialogue and touch use and will come three microphones and recognise the voices of two people.

It shows information such as facilities and food menus. When a person talks to the tablet, a conversation with the avatar of EMIEW 3 begins. 

Answers to question are handled by drawing on data accumulated in the robot IT infrastructure and facility information is displayed on the display screen according to the question content. The content of the conversation is displayed on the screen to support smooth conversation. 

The EMIEW -TT for tablet is expected to reach the market by the end of this year, and will focus on hospitals and nursing homes, hotels, offices, and condominium.

The firm is also developing a humanoid robot called MAGNUS to help look after the elderly.