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Japanese Robot to be Adapted for Work with Humans

Hiro and a human colleague (Tecnalia)

Hiro and a human colleague (Tecnalia)

Engineers at the Tecnalia Research and Innovation Centre in San Sebastián, Spain will further develop the intelligence of a Japanese humanoid robot to enable the device to work along side humans in European factories. The robot model, known as Hiro — short for Human Interactive Robot — is made by Kawada Industries in Tokyo.

The project aims to improve the capabilities of factory staff working with robots in conditions of safety, and to increase the competitiveness of the European factories in international markets. Tecnalia says this project is the first to allow entities outside Japan to extend this robot’s capabilities.

Kawada Industries says the robot was designed for human-collaboration robotics operating in real-life work environments. Hiro’s capabilities for this purpose, says the company, include movement, interaction, communication, image recognition, voice recognition, and voice synthesis.

Tecnalia plans to develop the robot’s intelligence to adapt the device to industry, so it can carry out work in a range of scenarios that will vary depending on the needs of each factory and company client. Safety of the workers will be a top priority. Hiro is now designed to stop automatically if it comes into physical contact with a human. The institute anticipates that Hiro will be used particularly for tasks that would pose a health hazard to human workers.

Companies that could benefit from this new technology, according to Tecnalia, are those in the automotive, plastics, food, timber, beverages, agricultural, aeronautical, railway, and energy sectors. The institute estimates that within six years, some 60 percent of industries performing final product assembly work will have this type of robot on its production lines.

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