Vol.4 No.2 2011
Research paper : Toward the use of humanoid robots as assemblies of content technologies (S. Nakaoka et al.)−98−Synthesiology - English edition Vol.4 No.2 (2011) out how to integrate them as a whole. On the other hand, in the individual framework of robot hardware and motion expression, it was difficult to integrate the “human-like appearance” and “bipedal motion”. It was also difficult to integrate the “CG key frame animation” and “maintaining stable motion of the bipedal robot”. The descriptions of these difficulties were included in the corresponding chapters.[Feedback from integration to elemental technology]There were actual case studies of feedbacks. Particularly, from such feedbacks, it became necessary to improve the walking stabilization system, and I added the details in subchapter 3.3.2 Contents industry for humanoidsQuestion (Naoto Kobayashi)You described that you are aiming to commercialize the humanoid as a content medium. At this point, other than the “singing and dancing”, “fashion show host”, and “model” that were given as content examples in this paper, what other demands do you expect in the future, and what is the projection of the market scale of this industry (humanoid content industry or humanoid amusement industry)? What other technologies, opportunities, or additions do you think would help such an industry to grow further?Answer (Shin’ichiro Nakaoka)Other than the examples in the paper, the specific contents using HRP-4C include theatrical performance, message video for a coming-of-age ceremony, presentation at trade shows, and others. The HRP-4C greeted the heads of the nations in the exhibit of Japan’s state-of-art technology during the summit meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum held in 2010. Including the examples in the paper, the range of application of the HRP-4C in “communication”, “presentation” ,“expression”, and “performance” is wide, and there is no end to the contents when meeting specific demands. This part is the work of the creators, and we would like to consult with the creators of various fields.In terms of industry, we are considering the use of robots in the framework of the current contents industry or the amusement industry. This expectation is described as the “idol robot” in the Technological Strategy Map 2010 of the METI, and this extends to the industries of music, motion pictures, dramas, amusement parks, and tourism. The market for live entertainment is 1 trillion yen (2007). Within this market in Japan, the initial goal for the share of robots (robot hardware, software, operation service, etc.) will be to attain a multibillion-yen scale within Japan. After that, with the technological advancement mentioned in “8 Future prospects,” this industry can evolve further by expanding the application of the robots. On the point of opportunities and nurturing the industry, here again, collaboration with the creators will be important.3 Uniqueness of the Japanese cultureQuestion (Naoto Kobayashi)Do you think the affinity people have for humanoids may be rooted in the unique Japanese culture? In other cultures, the responses people have for this type of robots may be different. What are the positive and negative responses in international academic societies?Answer (Shin’ichiro Nakaoka)The responses we received directly from the researchers at the international academic societies were mostly positive, regardless of nationality. I think this is mainly because the researchers evaluated the technology itself, and the robot researchers love robots to begin with. Therefore, the responses of different countries cannot be measured from the responses at the academic societies. On the other hand, we received comments on the Internet through the video upload sites, and they were not entirely positive. Several English comments written most probably by people overseas said, “This robot will eventually start attacking people” or “It will be used for war”. There were hardly any such comments written in Japanese, and I did feel the difference in culture here. We do have many, many comments, and if we do some statistical analysis, we might get an accurate picture of the differences in perception.4 Technological evolution of the humanoid and the limitation on the attractiveness of the contentsQuestion (Naoto Kobayashi)Currently, people are attracted to the fact that a humanoid is moving like a person, and this is provided as a content. In the future, as the technology advances, the humanoids will be able to do things humans cannot do. It was great news when the computer won the chess game against a human for the first time, but people gradually lost interest. I feel that the contents featuring humanoids may reach a point where people start losing interest. What do you think is such a point and when do you think it would arrive? What kind of measures should you take to avoid this situation?Answer (Shin’ichiro Nakaoka)The factors that attract people to the contents featuring humanoid robots include the “interest for the robot itself” and the “interest in the contents”. For the former, people will be continually interested in how the robots will become closer and closer to humans, and then eventually surpass humans. For the latter, the characteristics and the functions of the robot can be used in the expression and execution of the interesting and attractive contents. As the robots continue to evolve and become capable of doing what humans cannot do, the range of expression and execution of the contents will expand, and the content itself will become more attractive.5 Strategy of humanoid R&DQuestion (Naoto Kobayashi)One of the strategies and policies of the humanoid R&D is to start with the use of the humanoid featured in the contents media, as in this study. The basic performances such as the motion ability, sturdiness, and safety of the humanoids are enhanced as they are used, and the improvement in the basic performance can be applied to other uses including the support of daily human activities. I think this strategy is appropriate. On the other hand, I think there is a powerful argument that a robot does not have to be humanoid in form when supporting human functions. Considering the psychological aspects, why do you think the humanoids are necessary?Answer (Shin’ichiro Nakaoka)If we increase the tasks that can be taken over by robots to support human activities, I think the physical form of the robot will necessarily become human-like, due to the reason given in paragraph 2 of “1 Humanoid robot as content technology”. I also think the human-like form is effective for supporting people from the psychological aspects. It is a matter of how much one expects from robots. To respond to the high demands of human activity support, I think the “humanoid form” becomes necessary in addition to the various developments of the elemental technologies.