Japan Unveils Housework Robot to Aid Growing Elderly People

by Medindia Content Team on Nov 28 2007 2:43 PM

Japanese researchers on Tuesday unveiled a new humanoid robot designed to lend a hand with housework, particularly the rapidly growing number of elderly people in the Asian country.

The 147-centimetre (four-foot-10) robot, pure white save for blue eyes and red arm joints, put its skills on display by helping an elderly person get out of bed and preparing breakfast.

While communicating with the person, the 111-kilogramme (244-pound) robot picked up tomato sauce from the refrigerator with four fingers and carried it with a piece of bread on a plate to the dining table.

With sensors and flexible joints, the robot is able to absorb potential shocks in case it bumps into users.

The robot was developed by Tokyo's elite Waseda University and named Twendy-One, an acronym derived from Waseda Engineering Designed Symbiont.

"In our super-ageing society, both strength and delicacy are required" for robots, Professor Shigeki Sugano said in presenting the humanoid. "Twendy-One is the first robot that can meet those conditions."

The professor said his team aims to sell the robot in 2015.

Japanese are famed for longevity, with more than 30,000 people aged at least 100 years old, a trend attributed to a healthy cuisine and active lifestyle.

But the longevity is also presenting a headache as the country has one of the lowest birthrates, raising fears of a future demographic crisis as a smaller pool of workers supports a mass of elderly.