SciTech

Sony Corporation lends two QRIO robots to Carnegie Mellon

For the second time this year since January, crowds gathered in Newell-Simon last Friday for a demonstration of one of the most startling accomplishments in artificial intelligence and robotics yet: QRIO. A play on the word ?curious,? the two-and-a-half-foot-tall silver figure charmed the audience with its grace and agility.
Manufactured by Sony Electronics, QRIO is a humanoid robot that can respond to voices and faces, and interact with people to a great extent. Todd Kozuki, a Carnegie Mellon alum and software development engineer for Sony, was there to present QRIO.
QRIO is a technological masterpiece, if only because it is autonomous rather than remote-controlled. Kozuki amazed the crowd as he put QRIO through its paces. The robot performed several dances; its tai chi and Salsa dances were particularly well received, as they demonstrated versatility and human-like movement.
?My favorite dance is ?Energy for the Future,??? Kozuki said. ?It?s a very fast dance that shows how quickly and lifelike the robot can move, and still keep its balance.... And in the tai chi dance, there?s a move where QRIO balances on its left foot, then kicks its right foot out in front of the body and reaches for the toes.... Very cool.?
QRIO has a camera behind each eye for stereo vision, sensors in its feet and body to help maintain balance, and several microphones that let it respond to sounds.
Sony has lent two QRIOs to CMU?s Robotics Institute for research purposes. The company hopes CMU can help QRIO make some behavioral advances as it is not yet ready for commercial markets. However, this may not be a long time coming. Kozuki predicted that QRIO may be coming to homes in as little as five years, at least in Japan.
QRIOs could be well suited to meet the needs of Japan?s increasingly aged population. With wireless Internet access, QRIOs would be a font of voice activated information. In addition, their capabilities as companions are growing. One attendee
described the robots as ?little
ultra-smart pets.?
QRIO?s demonstration and loan highlights Sony?s close
relationship with CMU. If the event on Friday is any indication, it?s going to have a lot of researchers dancing along with it.