October 26, 2021

Japanese “Humanoid Menial Worker” Robot Unveiled

HRP-4 Robot

HRP-4 Robot

On Wednesday, Kawada Industries and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology unveiled a robot, dubbed a “humanoid menial worker”.

The developers of the blue-white model HRP-4 said that the development of the robot is a step towards easing Japan’s impending labor shortage. Japan’s population is growing older and there are fewer children coming along to meet future workforce requirements.

The working robot is “designed in the image of a lean but well-muscled track-and-field athlete,” Noriyuki Kanehira, a robotic systems manager at Kawada, explained during a news conference held to introduce the HRP-4.

This latest model represents a more serious approach to developing a  commercially viable model than its 10-year-old “female” predecessor, the HRP-4C. The female robot was famous for its karaoke singing and ability to strut on a fashion show catwalk.

Standing at 59-inches in height, the metallic worker can stand on one foot, strike poses by twisting its waist, obey voice commands and follow moving objects with its head.

In a demonstration the HRP-4 showed its enhanced skills with improved joint flexibility compared to earlier models. It also can run many software applications that have been separately developed.

Kawada and AIST will  be offering a “low cost” version of the HRP-4 for approximately $306,000 (26 million yen), starting in January 2011. The initial target market will be universities and research organizations where they hope to sell 3 to 5 of the models annually.

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