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Chinese Robots Dance "Gangnam Style"

8:56 AM, May 27, 2013   |    comments
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 -- China's nascent robotics industry is doing it "Gangnam Style" in Beijing.

The Casbo dancing robots on display at this year's Beijing International High-Tech Exposition were developed partly by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in conjunction with two South Korean technology firms and, while they may look like toys, there is more to the team of seven 18-cm tall (about 7 inches) robots than entertainment. The Casbos are examples of humanoid robotics, a field Chinese scientists are eager to develop.

A combination of sensor and motor technology interacts with preprogrammed algorithms to keep the robots upright, coordinated and moving to the beat, exemplifying the possibilities for future humanoid robots that could be integrated in society.

Visitors to the expo, like engineer Guo Zhengcui believes that while Japan leads the way in Asian robotics development, China has plenty of potential.

"However, for androids like these it's hard to do some subtle movements, especially dancing. But for them to be able to walk or perform other practical functions or work, I think there's still a lot of potential to reach at. Maybe in the future more development and more investment need to be done (for robotics). But I believe the future prospects (for robots) are quite promising," said Guo.

Kang Renzhe, China Academy of Science's market planner for its robotics development department, says that the Casbos have 17 moveable joints which allow them to move more freely and in a more human-like manner than other robots.

"The structure of these robots features a very big improvement (on past ones). In the past, the structure of robots all included a steering mechanism. But now, the all joints of our robots all use a kind of 'joint-mechanism.' This kind of mechanism is a mono-lever system. The strong point of this mechanism is that you can make the outer appearance of robots very pretty, and you can make the robot much more human in shape and form," said Kang.

Although robotics research in China is a fairly new field, Kang believes the industry in his country has its own strengths.

"Right now, for the whole world, every country has its own specialty and area that they excel in when it comes to the development of robotics. For instance, Japan really excels at robots related to the industry sector. In the U.S., research on theoretical robotics, visual technology, and control systems is extremely developed. In Europe theoretical research in nano-robotics technology, like for medical use is very good. China can be categorized as a country that has just started its robotics sector, but we have our own individual science and technology. For instance, this self-speaking voice recognition robot, this real high-end technology for the world," Kang said.

"Orient" ("Dongfang" in Chinese), an android developed by the China Academy of Science over the past ten years, can hold simple conversations on more than a thousand topics in Mandarin Chinese with a human speaker.

Orient is also capable of physical actions which it performs by command, ranging from hugs to routine morning exercises similar to those performed by Chinese elementary school students.

China's rise as a scientific power is supported by massive increases in spending in recent years. China now publishes the second highest number of scientific papers in the world after the United States.

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