Press Release

NSK Develops a Portable Guide Robot with Automatic Obstacle Avoidance

Personal Robot to Assist Users with Walking Anywhere, Anytime

NSK Develops a Portable Guide Robot with Automatic 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 portable guide robot with automatic obstacle avoidance capabilities that can easily be used when venturing out of the home.
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). Visitors to the NSK booth will have the opportunity to experience the robot first hand and gain insight into the expanding needs of this market.

Development Background

NSK has previously developed a guide robot with automatic obstacle avoidance capabilities to assist visually impaired users in barrier-free environments featuring flat and inclined pathways of hospitals, office buildings and commercial establishments. However, it was limited to specific locations due to its weight and it was not useable on stairs or escalators.

In response to these issues, NSK applied the technology it has cultivated up until now to create a lightweight (10 kg) portable robot capable of automatic obstacle avoidance.

Product Features

NSK was able to simplify the structure of the rear wheels by employing a 360-degree capable front wheel drive. In addition, NSK used CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) for the exterior. Compared to the previous, non-portable model, this new robot is collapsible and is much lighter and more compact (50% less volume and 75% less weight). This makes it easy for users to carry it over uneven terrain.

Anticipated Applications

This product is designed to be used in place of guide and service dogs and as a mobility assistance device for the elderly. As it is now portable enough to be carried on escalators and staircases in hospitals, office buildings and other buildings, and it can also be used in vehicles and public transportation. This will mean safer walking in a variety of locations as well as reduced workload on the caretakers of the visually impaired.

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