Posted by: robotnews | April 8, 2006

Enon — Fujitsu’s Service Robot


U0204997 Yeo Yunn En

Introduction

The Fujitsu Enon Robot was designed to provide support for various services in offices, commercial facilities, and other public areas in which people work or spend leisure time. The newly developed robot features functions that enable it to provide such services as greeting and escorting guests onto elevators, operating the elevators, moving parcels using a cart, and security patrolling of buildings at night.

In fact, it is actually going into service at the Yachiyo location of Japanese supermarket chain Aeon. According to Digital World Tokyo, Enon will be helping Aeon customers with everything from packing shopping bags and picking up groceries to find their way around the store.

Not only can the Enon robot help customers in the supermarket, it can serve as a butler as well. Fetching you stuff and patrolling your pad like a security guard when you’re out or tucked up in bed, it even hooks up to your home network via Wi-Fi. This wireless set-up enables you to access files from your PC or browse the web using the touchsceen LCD screen embedded in its belly, regardless of where you are in your home

Enon is an acronym of the phrase “exciting nova on network.” The phrase conveys the robot’s ability to autonomously support customers’ tasks while being linked to a network.

The new service robot is comprised of a head capable of moving up, down, left, and right, arms with four degrees of freedom, left and right motor-driven wheels that can rotate independently, a CPU that controls the entire robot, and a 3D visual processing system comprised of a digital signal processor (DSP) and custom hardware.

Applications
The following are three applications of the Enon Robot:

1. Guidance and escorting

Enon is suited for reception duties or explaining of exhibits, as it can detect when people stand in front of it and can provide a variety resourceful information such as product details, in addition to escorting guests to designations. Aside from its voice function, through its touch panel LCD monitor, Enon can also offer a multitude of user-friendly information through visual images. This monitor can also be utilized to administer questionnaires and through interconnection to a server can be used to accumulate guest information.

2. Transport of objects

Enon can carry parcels an internal storage compartment in its torso and deliver them to a designated location. Through network interconnection, users can call for Enon to come from a remote location and have goods delivered to a specified designation.

3. Security patrolling

Enon is capable of regularly patrolling facilities following a pre-set route, and by using a network has the ability to transmit images of stipulated locations to a remote surveillance station. Enon can also respond flexibly or to users’ spontaneous requests through a network, such as directing enon to view specific sites.



Features

1. Autonomous navigation enabling easy operation

By referring to a pre-programmed map, using its wide-angle cameras on its head to perceive the presence of people or objects surrounding itself while simultaneously determining their location, Enon can autonomously move to a designated location while avoiding obstacles. This makes Enon extremely user-friendly in that there is no need for special markings to be placed on floors or walls of the robot’s route as guides.

2. Transport of objects

Enon can carry a maximum load of 10 kilograms in the internal storage compartment of its torso and safely deliver to a designated location. By using its specially designed carriage, Enon can unload objects as well.

3. Handling of objects

With a single arm, Enon is capable of grasping and passing objects that are up to 0.5 kilograms. Compared to the four degrees of freedom which the arms of its prototype featured, Enon’s arm features have been enhanced to enable five degrees of freedom.

4. Feature-rich communication functions

Speech recognition and speech synthesis in Japanese are included as standard features. Enon’s touch panel LCD monitor on its chest enables the robot to communicate in a diverse range of situations.

5. Linkable to networks

By linking Enon to a network through a wireless LAN, it can offer a variety of functions such as retrieving necessary information from a server and providing the information either by voice or image, or transmitting images self-accumulated by the robot to the server. Fujitsu plans to provide external control and remote control functions as options.

6. Swivel-head feature enables facing reverse directions

When providing information to users, Enon operates with its head and arms facing the same side as its touch panel LCD monitor, so that Enon faces its users. When relocating itself from one location to another or when carrying objects that are stored in the carriage of its torso, Enon’s head and arms swivel to face the same direction it is moving toward, which is reverse the side featuring its LCD monitor. This enables Enon to continue to communicate through its LCD monitor with users located behind itself, even while it is relocating. Enon can also autonomously maintain a natural posture, by keeping the same range of arm motion when providing information and while relocating.

7. Wide variety of expressions

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) on the eye and mouth area of its face enable enon to have a wide range of facial expressions. Enon also has LEDs on the back of its head, making it possible for the robot to display its operational state to the rear as well.

8. Safety

Fujitsu has placed utmost priority on making Enon safe, incorporating a variety of safety features including significantly reducing the weight and width of the robot compared to its prototype, and enhancing arm functions. Enon is currently undergoing safety appraisal (appraisal in process) by an external third party, the NPO Safety Engineering Laboratory. Fujitsu will continue to place utmost importance on safety of its products.

Links
http://www.fujitsu.com/global/news/pr/archives/month/2005/20050913-01.html
http://www.fujitsu.com/global/news/pr/archives/month/2004/20040913-01.html

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Responses

  1. U0205077 Mu Jun

    It will be wonderful to have such a robot accompanying when shopping, and I believe many females will agree with me.

    I think even though the robots can replace human beings for reception duties or explaining of exhibits, it may not be very practical at this point of time as many people prefer face-to-face communication with people and they enjoy the interaction between each other. In addition, people are not used to talk to robots.

  2. U0204808 Li Junsheng

    This robot would certainly make a great guide-bot, and its use should not be restricted to that of particular buildings; perhaps its navigation systems could be improved upon, such that it is able to guide tourists or aid people with lots of heavy baggage on the streets.

    Having said that, I must agree with Mu Jun that it may lack the kind of interactivity or the personal ‘touch’ that people would expect. A human’s ability to gauge someone’s mood and emotions through facial features, tone and rhythm of speech and words used, and therefore engage in a suitable level of conversation, would certainly be hard to emulate.

  3. U0205298 Li Si

    These robots are amazing. However I still dont think they can replace human assistence. They are only suitable for simple task, like guide , which does not require much reactions against external factors.


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