If science fiction is to be believed, robots will eventually unseat us as the supreme overlords of our domain.
While most people would dismiss such notions as improbable, the paranoid among us may see the recent advancement of Japanese companies in the field of robotics as the first step towards our enslavement.
Technology firms from the country just showcased robots with varying capabilities and oddness at the CEATAC Japan electronics exhibition. The marquee attractions for the show, which takes place at the Makuhari Messe international convention complex in Chiba prefecture, are a ping pong-playing robot, a smartphone-controlled dinosaur robot and cheerleaders that perform a synchronized dance.
The ping pong-playing robot, which was created by industrial automation and electronic components company Omron, is a three-legged spider-like robot that is meant to facilitate a relaxing game with a human opponent. In a press release, Omron explained that the robot is designed to entice players into long rallies. It forecasts the trajectory and velocity of the ball depending on the movement of the human opponent. Then it "thinks" and places the ball in an area that can be returned easily by the human opponent.
"This ping pong robot is really a demonstration of how a robot can interact with a person and react in an appropriate manner," said Takuya Tsuyuguchi, an Omron manager. "We envision this robot perhaps being used in a factory or production line and having a role in which it would have to interact with a worker to do or build something. This would involve the robot understanding the needs of its human counterpart and behaving appropriately."
Another robot on display at the event is TE Saurus, a 6"11' Tyrannosaurus Rex replica. A smartphone can be used to make the massive robot walk, jump or bark. It can also answer trivia questions with the help of an app and human users.
However, in terms of entertainment value, the highlight of the event is a group of 14-inch robot cheerleaders. The robots, which perform a synchronized routine with color-changing pompoms, move around through a removable ball and gyro sensors. They also dodge objects in their way infrared sensors and ultrasonic microphones.
The CEATAC exhibition is on until Oct. 11. There are more than 500 companies with exhibits in the show.