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November 21, 2000

Sony Develops Small Biped Entertainment Robot
Sony original 'Actuator' & 'Whole Body Coordinated Dynamic Control' Give Wide Venety of Movements

(Tokyo, Japan) - Sony Corporation today announced the development of a small biped walking robot "SDR-3X" (prototype). This is part of Sony's continuing exploration of new possibilities for the entertainment robot.By synchronizing the movements of 24 joints on its body, the robot can perform basic movements such as walking and changing direction, as well as getting up, balancing on one leg, kicking a ball and dancing.

The robot uses the same OPEN-R architecture as Sony's four-legged autonomous Entertainment Robot "AIBO".Two technologies applying the OPEN-R architecture, the "actuator" that moves the joints and "Whole Body Coordinated Dynamic Control" for real-time control of the joints realize the biped walking motion of the SDR-3X.

small biped walking entertainment robot "SDR-3X"(prototype)

The development of OPEN-R was announced in June 1998 as an architecture for entertainment robots.Components of the robot such as hardware, movement software and information processing programs (e.g. speech recognition, image recognition) have been subdivided into modules specific to each function.These modules can be easily changed and adapted to enable a robot to perform a variety of new applications.

The newly developed "Actuato" that moves the joints is constructed from a motor unit, a gear-unit and a circuit unit.By combining these three basic components into one device, high power output can be obtained from small, lightweight actuators.Sony developed three types of actuators with different joint sizes and power output.

To realize stable walking movement, the Zero Moment Point (ZMP) where the combined force of both the inertia and body weight meet, must be judged against whether balance is possible on the surface that is being walked upon.The SDR-3X uses two RISC processors for thinking and motion control.Information gathered from a CCD camera, microphone, posture sensors and touch sensors on the bottom of the feet are processed to synchronize movements of the body joints.

Based on the OPEN-R architecture, Sony will continue to develop basic and applied technologies to explore new possibilities for entertainment robots.

The SDR-3X will be shown at ROBODEX 2000, the world's first exhibition of "Robots as Partner", from Thursday November 24 for 3 days until November 26 at Pacifico Yokohama.

Technologies used in SDR-3X (Prototype)
1) Efficient Power Output from Small Sized Actuator
Sony developed three types of small actuators (ISA) for joints with different power output requirements.High power output actuators are used in the knee joints to support walking movement.
Torque Rate (When 1A applied, 6.2 15.9 24.0
Size(mm) Ø 24 x 49.5 Ø 31 x 47.5 Ø 31 x 52.5
Mass(g) 73.5 119.7 143.2

2) Quick Motion/Synchronized Body Movement
In the same way as a human being, the SDR-3X moves the upper half of the body to counteract the yaw-axis moment generated from the lower half of the body. As a result, the SDR-3X can walk at a speed of 15 meters per minute with 60mm strides. In addition, when it walks up slopes or moves its whole body, information gathered from posture sensors in the torso area and touch sensors on the bottom of the feet are used to control its posture to prevent it from falling over.

3) Communication by Voice
Movements of the SDR-3X can be verbally controlled through two microphones in the ear section. The robot possesses a speech recognition function and can recognize about 20 pre-recorded words. In addition, it can respond to these verbal instructions through a speech synthesis function that enables the SDR-3X to answer with one of about 20 recorded words.

4) Movements based on Image Recognition
The robot can distinguish specific color areas from visual data captured by the CCD camera in the head area. Based on this ability, the SDR-3X will recognize the instructed color ball, find the goal net, move beside the ball, shoot the ball and recognize whether the ball has landed or not in the net.

5) Other
  • The SDR-3X can be operated by remote control by using a Wireless LAN Card in the PC card slot.
  • A simulation software has been developed to simulate the movements of SDR-3X on a personal computer.

For Reference
SDR-3X Main Features

CPU64 Bit RISC Processor (x2)
Internal Memory32MB DRAM (x2)
Operating SystemAperios (Sony's original real time OS)
Robot Control ArchitectureOPEN-R
Program Storage Media16MB Memory Stick (x2)
Joints/Degrees of FreedomHead:2 degrees of freedom
Body:2 degrees of freedom
Arms:4 degrees of freedom (x2)
Legs:6 degrees of freedom (x2)
(Total of 24 degrees of freedom)
Internal Sensors Visual Input 180,000 1/5 inch CCD Color Camera
Voice Input Microphone (x2)
Distance Detection Infrared Distance Sensor
Acceleration Detection Dual axis accelerometer
Angular Rate Detection Dual axis angular rate sensor
Touch Detection Contact Sensor (x8)
Voice OutputSpeaker
Input/OutputPC Card Slot (Type II)
Memory Stick Slot (x2)
Walking SpeedApprox. 15m per minute
MassApprox. 5.0 kg (with battery & memory stick included)
Dimensions (height x width x depth)Approx. 500 x 220 x 140 mm