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att. Culture - The Robot Award 2007 and Robots in 2008
You are here: att.JAPAN > General Information >The Robot Award 2007 and Robots in 2008
att.JAPAN Issue 39, March 2008

The Robot Award 2007 and Robots in 2008

The prize-winning robots of the Robot Award 2007, which recognizes outstanding developments in the field over the year, were announced on December 20th 2007. This was the second year the awards have been held. 

This year 13 robots were awarded and as in the previous year (2006) factors such as practical use and the potential for creating new markets were highly evaluated.

The Grand Prize was awarded to Fanuc Ltd’s “high speed handling system using visual tracking of two M-430iA robots”. This displays functions not previously offered by other industrial robots, such as high-speed capability, cleanliness, detergent properties and chemical resistance, and its application for the development of new markets in the food and pharmaceutical industries were highly commended.

As of August 2007, about 150 of these robot systems were actually being used in manufacturing operations worldwide. However since the Aichi Expo in 2005 the most-watched and anticipated arenas for new robots are in the home and public places. Robots which operate in these places are generally called Service robots. Prizes were awarded to robots in this category including two robots for study and education, one entertainment robot for home use, and two robots for medical services.

One entertainment robot which has developed a new market for home use, “Miuro” by Zmp Inc., missed out on the grand prize but received the Small to Medium Sized Venture Award. This is a network audio robot with a very unique concept. It replays portable music players such as iPods and Internet radio, dances according to the music it replays, and is capable of following someone around. The new suggestion of enjoying music combined with movement was highly evaluated. It is becoming popular in the market and an upgraded model is to be released.  

Also among the nominated prize winners was a robot which can be seen in Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovationin) in Odaiba, Tokyo. This “LEGO for Education Mindstorms NXT” by Lego Japan is an autonomous educational robot, which allows children to build robots using programmable lego blocks and various types of sensors and gears, and to operate them. This allows the children to develop an interest in scientific technology and creativity. A popular hands-on experiment course held at the science workshop of Miraikan, makes use of these Lego kits for participants to build and operate their own robots. 

The unveiling of Hitachi’s new service robot, Toyota’s new robot and the new functions of ASIMO by Honda in November and December in 2007 has shown that robot technology has been steadily improving. In particular the improvement of intelligence technologies, which enable robots to move autonomously, has attracted much attention. The industry aims for the diffusion of service robots by 2010. With two years to wait until then, there is great interest to see what kind of new robots will be created in 2008.


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