This article reports on the 4th International Micromachine Symposium and Exhibition Micromachine (1998) which were held in Tokyo, 28‐30 October 1998 and also serves as a supplementary information to the article “Micro sensor developments in Japan” in this special “Micro sensors” issue of the journal. The symposium and exhibition are the annual showcase of the current status of the “Micromachine technology” project which is sponsored by the Japanese Government. Unlike efforts in other countries the Japanese approach is unique in trying to achieve real workable micromachines by establishing micro mechatronics technology. It differs from, for instance, the American MEMS where research is heavily dependent on silicon processing technology to fabricate micro devices on chips. Various kinds of micro sensors are now under development. These initiatives are well worth watching.
A Tokyo based video and image processing equipment manufacturer, For‐A Ltd has been developing a new navigation system for wheelchairs. The new system not only provides navigation information to wheelchair users via cellular phone network but also receives “barrier‐free” information from wheelchairs to automatically create and update the “barrier‐free” map resident in the central computer. Prototypes have been developed and have undergone field‐test to prove their usefulness in the real world. Commercial models will become available next year after successful introduction to a new town project nearby Tokyo International Airport. In the future, this approach would also be useful for automatic navigation for mobile robots such as “seeing‐eye dog” robots, guide robots etc.
The Japanese robotic industry has been very silent in medical applications. However, changes in this can now be observed. Above all Hitachi, an electric/machinery giant, is trying to rebuild its robotic business by entering the medical robot market.
Describes recent developments at the Tokyo bi‐annual International Robot Exhibition. More exhibitors were present than in previous years, however very few new innovative…
Describes recent developments at the Tokyo bi‐annual International Robot Exhibition. More exhibitors were present than in previous years, however very few new innovative technologies /products were observed. In the middle of the depressed economy Japanese industrial robot manufacturers are struggling to reduce cost, reshuffle business structure and try everything to survive. A total solution approach and strategic alliances were evident. On the other hand there is a sign of emerging non‐manufacturing market, especially in the entertainment area.
Every two years the International Robot Exhibition is held in Japan and is the biggest robotics trade show in the world. The 12th IRE took place from October 28 to 31, 1997 at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center (Tokyo Big Sight, Ariake). Apparently reflecting the recovery of the Japanese robotic business climate nearly 100 exhibitors participated in the event which attracted 155,000 visitors (compared to 140,000 at the last one). The reporter observed a new trend of the Japanese robotic industry. It is evident that efforts are being made to diversify the market into new areas. We saw new applications in the food industry, clean room environment, construction robots, etc. However, only a few intriguing innovations were to be found.
Aims to make an appeal to Japanese robotic community in an attempt to keep global competitivity for the future.
Clarifies the cost structure of the robotic business. Analyses the needs of Japanese society. Leads to suggest the new direction of Japanese robotics.
Specific target robots for the future are suggested.
The new direction in R&D is proposed based on the study on the cost structure of the robotic industry and the needs of Japanese society.
Professor Masatoshi Ishikawa of the University of Tokyo, Japan, has developed a super fast vision sensor and a super quick hand (gripper), and integrated them in an…
Professor Masatoshi Ishikawa of the University of Tokyo, Japan, has developed a super fast vision sensor and a super quick hand (gripper), and integrated them in an impressive demonstration system in which the vision sensor recognizes a free falling ball and the hand catches it in the air. The secret lies in a super fast vision chip and visual servo technology developed along with the chip. A lot of new applications for this new technology in future robotics are expected.