Humanoid plant workers wow crowds at iRex

Luring huge crowds, Kawada Industries' Nextage assembly bots handle parts at iRex 2011 in Tokyo.

Tim Hornyak)

TOKYO–Robots were out in force in Tokyo today as the International Robot Exhibition (iRex) kicked off with sophisticated humanoid industrial robots thrilling visitors.

With nearly 300 companies and groups taking part, iRex 2011 has the usual large-footprint booths by major robot makers like Fanuc and Yaskawa. With the power shortages that followed the March 11 earthquake and tsunamis, energy savings is a prominent theme, as it was at the Ceatec 2011 high-tech show here last month.

Particularly awesome was a demo of Nextage industrial robots by Kawada Industries, known for its work on the HRP series of humanoids as well as its mainline of bridge building.

The 20 kg (44 pound) assembly-line droid has six-jointed arms as well as cameras in its eyes and hands. It was also shown off at iRex 2009, though sales began recently. It’s expected to use the same tools as humans while working in production cells; a research version called Hiro is also available. … [Read more]

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