The bio-mimetic control research center of RIKEN is promoting basic research on the flexible and dynamic motor functions of biological systems.

The goal is to create advanced engineering systems such as a soft human interactive robot.

The robot developed here is named RI-MAN. RI-MAN exhibits the skill and ability to realize human care and welfare tasks. RI-MAN will become an invaluable partner robot.

Video Library

Promotional Video Demonstration

Feature 1. Feedback of force using tactile information

RI-MANfs right and left forearms, upper arms, and torso are equipped with soft areal tactile sensors that measure the magnitude and position of contact force. Feedback of tactile information from these sensors enables RI-MAN to physically interact with humans.

Feature 2. Human-friendly soft body

RI-MAN was developed to interact safely with humans. To achieve physical safety in human-robot contact the whole of RI-MANfs body is covered with soft material and mechanical joints are physically isolated.

Feature 3. Small but powerful arms using coupled drive

Each of RI-MANfs arms has six joints driven by six motors. The six motors are operated in pairs to enable combined bending and twisting motions. RI-MANfs arms use a mechanism called ecoupled drive' , which can combine the torque of two motors. This mechanism is needed to enable the powerful shoulder and elbow motions used when lifting and holding a human. Although very powerful this mechanism allows RI-MAN to have small human-like arms.

Feature 4. Motion simulation using an immersion-type 3D environment

We can evaluate how RI-MAN will interact safely with humans by using a virtual RI-MAN in the immersion-type 3D dynamic simulation environment we have developed. Here we can perform simulations of the whole-body lifting of a virtual human patient.

Feature 5. Decentralized control using small general-purpose controllers

Each of RI-MANfs joints is operated by an individual controller (a tiny computer). A total of fifteen small controllers are installed throughout the whole of RI-MANfs body and these perform dedicated motor and sensor control tasks. This distributed controller network avoids the concentration of computational loads on the main computer and also dramatically reduces the wiring complexity. This is a key technology in making RI-MANfs body so compact.

Feature 6. Sound localization using eearsf

Sound source localization can be realized using two conventional microphones combined with reflectors that act like human ears. The horizontal direction of a sound is determined using the time difference between sounds arriving at the two microphones, while changes in the sound spectrum caused by the ear-like reflectors enable judgment of front or rear direction. Using the next generation reflectors RI-MAN can also determine the vertical direction of sound. By combining these functions, omni-directional sound localization is realized.

Feature 7. Tracking of a human face by integrating auditory and visual information

The position of a human face is extracted using visual information obtained by stereo cameras, and the position of a sound source (the speakerfs voice) is localized using microphones with reflectors, as described above. By integrating the auditory and visual information, the person giving instructions to RI-MAN is identified.

Feature 8. Smell discernment by semiconductor gas sensor

We have developed a gas sensor module that can identify several smells. The sensing method is based on the nonlinear dynamic output of a gas sensor in response to periodic heating. Differences in dynamic response are used to determine the gas type and concentration. By installing two gas sensors in the left and right sides of RI-MANfs torso the robot can detect important smells, such as urine, when a patient is held in the arms.

Feature 9. Computational architecture based on QoS

RI-MAN is equipped with a computational architecture based on the notion of Quality of Service (QoS). Key processing operations (vision processing, speech recognition, and so on) are dynamically prioritized based on their contribution to completing the current task. This is especially important when multiple recognition processes are needed simultaneously.


Our human-interactive robot RI-MAN was selected to be one of THE BEST INVENTIONS of 2006 of TIME! Please visit the homepage.


Project Leaders
  • Zhiwei LUO, Toshiharu MUKAI, Shigeyuki HOSOE

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