Panasonic has big plans for robots

The company wants to make robotics a big business and has previewed its latest research

Panasonic is getting serious about robotics and has begun a push to commercialize a series of robots over the next few years.

The company formed a robotics unit last year and has its sights set on sales of ¥100 billion (US$1.1 billion) in 2015. Panasonic achieved total sales of ¥7.8 trillion in the financial year to March so such sales would have represented a little over 1 percent of the company's overall business last year.

Panasonic hopes to reach this goal through sales of home and industrial robots and presented some of its latest research and development on Thursday at its robotics laboratory in Osaka.

For hospital and industrial use the company has developed a porter robot that can be used to assist workers in pulling heavy objects like medical carts. The robot is based on the same motor and parts used in Panasonic's electrical bicycles so is cheaper and easier to produce that something based on proprietary components. It can pull up to 200 kilograms.

Panasonic also envisages it being used for applications such as helping staff pull beds or wheelchairs. It is also possible to have the robot hook up to a wheelchair and turn the control column around so the wheelchair's occupant can move around a building without effort.

For the kitchen, the company has developed a robot that can assist with serving food and washing dishes.

It's a large robot arm with a four-fingered hand that can grip and manipulate objects such as glasses, plates and cooking utensils. In a demonstration the robot took a plate from a dishwasher and set it down on the counter, picked up a spoon and scooped some food from a pan and then dropped the food into a waiting bowl. It also took a glass from the kitchen counter and emptied it into a sink before placing it in the dishwasher for cleaning.

The robot has sensors in its fingers to make sure it doesn't grip too tightly and a camera overhead provides a view of where things are so it doesn't get confused.

At the beginning of October Panasonic demonstrated a robotic bed that can transform into a wheelchair on command from the user. It's designed for people who have limited mobility and is intended to provide an extra level of independence as it enables them to get out of bed and move around the house without assistance from others.

That bed is also something Panasonic wants to put on the market, but its launch could be held up by the lack of safety standards and liability laws concerning robots that interact with humans. Guidelines could be out as soon as 2012 paving the way for its commercialization, Panasonic said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags robotsPanasonicrobotics

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?