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Robotic ‘cheerleaders’ perform synchronised dances

25 September, 2014

The Japanese electronics manufacturer Murata has developed a team of tiny robotic “cheerleaders” which perform synchronised “dances” using advanced sensing, communication and group control technologies.

The mini-robots are balanced on top of balls that allow them to move swiftly in any direction. They remain upright using three gyro sensors, incorporating an inverted-pendulum control technology to detect tilt angles. The sensors are similar to those used in digital cameras, navigation systems and electronic stability control systems in cars.

Each robot has four infrared sensors and five ultrasonic microphones to detect surrounding objects, even in the dark. Based on the differing speeds of sound and light waves, a real-time position measurement system determines the relative locations of the robots within a 16m2 space.

In collaboration with researchers from Matsuno Lab at Kyoto University, Murata has developed an advanced group control technology that allows 10 of the robots to move in synchronisation with each other, without colliding. Each robot’s location is communicated wirelessly and is controlled using a specially developed program. Similar technologies could one day help to achieve safer and more efficient vehicle and transportation systems.

Murata's "cheerleaders" perform synchronised dances, balanced on top of balls

“The Murata cheerleaders showcase the ability of electronics to enrich our lives,” says Yuichi Kojima, senior vice-president and deputy director of Murata’s Technology & Business Development Unit. “We believe that the wireless communication of sensor data could become a core infrastructure for the advanced integration of people and objects in smart societies.”

“Our hope is that the Murata cheerleaders will inspire new discoveries by young innovators and put smiles on the faces of people worldwide,” adds Koichi Yoshikawa, senior manager of corporate communications at Murata, who played a key role in developing the mini-robots.

The Murata cheerleaders will be demonstrated at the Ceatec 2014 trade show in Tokyo from 7–11 October.

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