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The New Guy at GIZMODO Is a Robot That Can Co-Work with People. Say Hello to duAro

He can do his job faultlessly with speed!

The end of the fiscal year is always the busiest month of the year for our editorial office. The announcements of many new gadgets mean more stories to write, and backend office work just keeps piling up.

When fatigue builds up and kicks in, concentration steadily goes down the drain; it creates a lot of unwanted trouble. Oh listen, the bemoaning show is starting again. What’s wrong, Yoshioka?

“The program froze…and I forgot to save my draft…”

I understand exactly how he feels. Everyone's had that, right? Your computer magically ALWAYS crashes when you're writing articles or reports.

“We're too busy… I'm in up to my elbows with work. Please hire someone. Even just one day would be helpful!”

Hmm, is it okay if it's not a human? I can do something if you're fine with a robot. There's this one, the "duAro" from Kawasaki Heavy Industries, or Kawasaki, that has two arms, and can handle a variety of operations. He can work tasks right next to us and there would be no danger to worry. Plus, he is almost the same size as us, so he'll fit in.

“A robot helper…sounds cool! Yes, please ask him to come!”

A robot helper came to our editorial office

Photo: GIZMODO JAPAN

In the early morning a few days later, a large truck arrived at the building where the Gizmodo editorial office is located. Robot Division of Kawasaki sent us duAro.

Photo: GIZMODO JAPAN

He can't walk on his own, so this is where a little human assistance is needed. However, he stands a little under 1 meter wide and his footprint occupies about the same space as a copier. duAro really doesn't take up any more space than an actual person needs.

Photo: GIZMODO JAPAN

He weighs about the same as three adult men, so he can ride nicely in an ordinary elevator.

Photo: GIZMODO JAPAN

Welcome, duAro, to the Gizmodo editorial office! Now let’s get down to business!

OK duAro, press "Command-S” to save

Photo: Ryota Musha

All right, what shall we ask him to do first? Well, how about we start off with asking him deal with Yoshioka's problems. “duAro, put yourself in standby in front of Yoshioka's desk.”

Photo: Ryota Musha

“I need to go to the men's room,” said Yoshioka as he left his desk.

Then immediately, duAro's eyes lit up (or so they seemed)!

Video: Ryota Musha

Using both arms, he delicately presses “command-S” on the keyboard! Time to save! Even if something goes wrong with the computer, the draft is saved. Good job!

duAro can not only move his robotic arms in a brute, powerful way, but he can also touch objects in a soft, gentle manner as well. He can perform delicate tasks indeed.

Speaking of which, although the tip of his arms are quite mechanical in appearance, the entire arms are covered with urethane resin and are soft to the touch. Wait, what? He is a very safe robot with built-in collision detection, immediately suspending his operation when he bumps into someone, you say? duAro, you are such a good boy.

Photo: Ryota Musha

However, it would certainly be a waste to just ask duAro to save documents on a computer. I mean, for writing drafts, the same thing can be accomplished by using an app with auto-save features, or a cloud service that automatically saves documents whenever changes are made.

All right. Now let's get him to take on some more technical tasks.

duAro, take gadget photos from three different angles

Photo: Ryota Musha

You may not know it but shooting photos of gadgets is one of the most time-consuming things we have to do at the Gizmodo editorial office. While we might not go as far as setting up a white cyclorama and elaborate lighting to remove all shadows, shooting objects from various angles still takes a lot of time.

If we had our angles figured out and all we needed was to take photos from those angles, even duAro should be up to the challenge, right? Of course, he should. So when we asked him to shoot some photos…

Video: Ryota Musha

All done! duAro really can do anything! With a GoPro in one arm, he remotely fired off the shutter by tapping on the screen of the smartphone with the other. Smooth movements combined with no camera shake make duAro a brilliant assistant!

Photo: duAro

He snapped profile shots of objects and took photos from 45-degree angles. The images were accurately taken according to what we envisioned. Aren't you just the useful little one!

duAro, entertain us with some of your DJ skills

Photo: Ryota Musha

duAro worked hard for us, so we'll need to give him a proper welcoming party. Huh? duAro can kick up the party a few notches with some DJing? Well then, let's see what he's got.

Video: Ryota Musha

That's some hot stuff, adding some gorgeous beats with the drum pads and scratching away on the platters. Well done!

Photo: GIZMODO JAPAN

He's showing off some pretty slick moves. His performance at the office is good and he seems to have a fulfilling private life. What's more, you say that if I teach him other operations by moving his arms directly, he'll be able to do even more? And once he learns an operation, he will never forget it?

duAro, are you for real? You are the envy of us all!

Robots which can share a space with humans already exist

duAro is an industrial robot.

Traditional industrial robots are large and designed to do work in a quick and powerful manner. Since they are built to replicate the work of specific workers, they have always been installed and fixed in designated areas in factories, and enclosed within barriers for safety reasons.

However, duAro is different. It has casters requiring only one person to move it around, and it is a friendly industrial robot that can operate in almost any environment where humans can work. You can make it work for you as much as you need anytime, anywhere.

Its arms are useful not only for carrying and pushing, but also for assembling, polishing, cutting and filling things up. Using both arms, it can grab a part, change the angle of it, and assemble it with other parts; these sorts of procedures are no problem for duAro.

The horizontal articulated arms have a large work envelope, and they can move to and stop at an intended point with speed and precision. Such a multifunctional robot can be utilized in small spaces.

Picking up and processing of plastic parts (left), handling electronic components (middle), and an attachment for packing rice balls (right). Attachments can be interchanged during operation.Photo: Kawasaki

There was a time when we imagined robots of the future to be more interactive—machines which could talk and listen to us. But the reality is different. Robots that assist us while staying completely silent, like duAro, already exist.

Although the Gizmodo editorial staff only asked duAro to provide a hand for a few simple tasks, he can handle much more. duAro’s biggest advantage is his capability to adapt to a variety of operations. His potential is infinite and it all comes down to how his "mentor" teaches him. Perhaps now you are a little more interested in him?

Photo: Ryota Musha

Now it’s time to say good-bye. Thank you, duAro! Come see us again!

* Actual duAro operation requires programming a sequence of commands using either a tablet device or its proprietary remote controller (Teach Pendant), or programming through physical manipulation of duAro's arms by a human operator (Direct Teach). Being able to intuitively program the robot using the Direct Teach function is yet another key feature which makes duAro so remarkable.

Photo: Kawasaki, duAro, GIZMODO JAPAN, Ryota Musha

Read the original article on GIZMODO JAPAN 03.22.2018 * Available in Japanese.

(Ryota Musha)

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