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Nomura Unison Co., Ltd. has developed a walking-assistance robot
that perceives and responds to its environment.
The machine, called Walking Partner Robot, was developed with the
cooperation of researchers from Tohoku University.
It will be unveiled to the general public at the 2006 Suwa Area
Industrial Messe on October 19 in Suwa, Nagano prefecture.
The robot is equipped with a system of sensors that detect the
presence of obstacles, stairs, etc. while monitoring the motion and
behavior of the user.
Three sensors monitor the status of the user while detecting and
measuring the distance to potential obstacles, and two angle sensors
measure the slope of the path in front of the machine.
The robot responds to these measurements with voice warnings and
by automatically applying brakes when necessary.
The developers, who also see potential medical rehabilitation
applications, aim to develop indoor and outdoor models of the robot.
The company hopes to make the robot commercially available soon
at a price of less than 500,000 yen (US$4,200) per unit.