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Walking chair.

The world's first two-legged walking robot capable of carrying a human being, codenamed WL-16, took two years to develop in a joint project involving the Science and Engineering Department of Waseda University, Tokyo, and robot-maker tmsuk, based in the southern Japan city of Kita Kyushu. The battery-powered robot, basically an aluminum street care chair mounted on two sets of telescopic poles (which resemble the parallel kinematic systems being applied for purposes of industrial material handling) bolted to flat plate 'feet,' can move forwards, backwards and sideways while carrying an adult weighing a maximum of 60 kilograms. WL-16's normal walking stride measures 30 cm, although it can stretch its legs 1.36m apart. The robot can adjust its posture and walk smoothly even if the person it carries shifts in the chair. The prototype is currently radio-controlled, but the research team plans to equip it with a joy stick-like controller for the user. "I believe this biped robot will eventually enable (disabled) people to go up and down the stairs," said Waseda professor Atsuo Takanishi. tmsuk chief executive officer Yoichi Takamoto said biped or multi-legged types of robots were more useful than caterpillar models over uneven ground. However, it would take "at least two years" to develop the prototype robot into a working model, Takamoto told a news conference. At present, it is only capable stepping up or down a few millimeters, but Takanishi's team plans to make it capable of going up and down a normal flight of stairs.

Circle 101--tmsuk Co Ltd, or connect directly to their website via the Online Reader Service Program at

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Title Annotation:Technology Spotlight
Author:Mandel, Richard
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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