Robodex: Humanoid robots strut their stuff

Robodex 2002, the world's only exhibition devoted to entertainment robots, begins today in Tokyo.

Robodex 2002, the world's only exhibition devoted to entertainment robots, begins today in Tokyo.

This year's Robodex not only focuses on robots for entertainment, but robots that can co-exist and work in a human society. These include robots that educate kids, assist people who need medical support and can stand watch and guard the inside of a building at night.

One robot, called Asimo, by Honda Motors, is already working alongside people. It landed a job at Japan's National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, works as a guide at IBM Japan's building, rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Valentine's Day, and also stars in a series of Honda TV commercials.

Asimo is one of the two hottest robots at Robodex 2002. The other is Sony's SDR-4X. Like Asimo, the SDR-4X is a humanoid robot that can walk, move and even dance.

Sony unveiled a prototype of the 58-centimeter-tall robot a week ago. Equipped with an advanced motion-control system, the robot can balance on a moving platform and walk on carpet or Japanese tatami mat floors - something that is very difficult for a robot.

At preview demonstrations the robots did their best to impress visitors. Four SDR-4X robots sang and danced on a Sony stage along with the company's Aibo entertainment robots, while Honda's Asimo walked around the hall, waved at visitors and climbed up and down stairs.

A total of 27 domestic participants - 13 corporations, 10 universities, three government agencies and one individual - and a single foreign country, the UK, represented by Shadow Robot, will exhibit their robots.

Organisers said they expect 65,000 visitors.

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