Press Release

NSK Develops a Guide Robot with Indoor Navigation and Obstacle Avoidance

Improved Convenience and Safety

NSK Develops a Guide Robot with Indoor Navigation and Obstacle Avoidance

Tokyo, Japan, November 5, 2013 – NSK Ltd. (NSK; Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan; President and CEO: Norio Otsuka) today announced that it has developed a guide robot with navigation and automatic obstacle avoidance that achieves improved convenience and safety through new functions. NSK will exhibit this product at Tokyo Big Sight (located in the Koto Ward of Tokyo) from Wednesday, November 6 to Saturday, November 9 at iREX® 2013 (International Robot Exhibition).

NSK had previously developed a wheeled robot that could detect the desired direction based on grip input as well as automatically avoid obstacles along the corresponding path.

This time, NSK has developed a robot with new functions that enable the user to enter the desired destination and receive voice guidance from the robot to that destination. The robot not only detects obstacles in its path, but can now also detect higher-positioned obstacles in the line of sight of the operator.

This technology can be applied in place of guide and service dogs, for improving wheelchair functionality and mobility assistance devices for the elderly and so forth. NSK is working toward future applications in which autonomous robots will assist mobility in barrier-free environments featuring flat and inclined pathways of hospitals, office buildings and commercial establishments.

NSK has been proactively using exhibitions and other venues to test this product with as many people as possible to understand the diverse needs of the marketplace and to verify on-the-spot functionality for safety.

Product Features

(1) Navigation Function
This product makes it possible for first-time visitors to arrive at their destination within a hospital or office building without getting lost. The user simply selects a preregistered destination and then the robot uses map and movement data to deduce its location and guide the user to the destination while providing voice guidance and avoiding obstacles. The voice guidance increases safety for support personnel and other people in the area.
(2) Line-of-sight Obstacle Avoidance Function
Although the previous model already had the ability to detect obstacles along its path, it became clear that, for real-world use in hospitals and other buildings, there was a need to detect objects at the line-of-sight of users. NSK added this ability in order to help users avoid head collisions with objects higher up.
(3) Lighter and More Compact
Furthermore, NSK has made the new robot even more compact and lighter while maintaining the same fundamental level of stable dynamic performance. The lighter, more compact size makes for improved manageability and longer battery use time.

Anticipated Applications

NSK envisions use of this product in barrier-free, indoor environments such of hospitals and office buildings to assist the visually impaired and elderly in safely arriving at their destination.

Prototype History of the Obstacle Avoidance Guide Robot
Guide Robot  with Navigation and Obstacle Avoidance Capabilities
Guide Robot  with Navigation and Obstacle Avoidance Capabilities No2