Sohgo Security Services Co Ltd, a security company in Japan, will release an autonomous robot that can be used for digital signage.
The robot, "An9-PR," features a 19-inch touch panel LCD monitor on the front, two 12-inch LCD monitors on the back and a ring-shaped electric bulletin board on the top. The robot is expected to be used in shopping centers, public facilities, etc. For example, it is possible to show a facility guide and advertisements, and visitors can run a search for shop information by using the touch panel.
The An9-PR has a camera on its top and can recognize and approach people around it by using a face recognition function. The robot is priced at ¥10,436,000 (approx US$109,587), but purchasers have to pay ¥3.9 million for five years of maintenance costs.
Sohgo Security Services will also lease the An9-PR. For example, to rent the robot for five years at an interest rate of 1.88%, the monthly pay including maintenance costs is ¥287,300.
Advertisements and guides shown on the monitors can be changed in accordance with the location of the robot. Also, equipped with a FeliCa reader/writer and an infrared communication function, it is possible to send shop information and coupons to mobile phones compatible with FeliCa as well as to take a picture with the camera, process and send it to a handset.
Furthermore, because the images shot by the camera can be checked through LAN, the An9-PR can be used for simple remote surveillance.
The robot is 160cm in height and 200kg in mass. It is similar to a cylinder with a circumference of 4m. With four tires at the bottom, it can operate continuously for about an hour. When running out of battery, it automatically goes to a battery charging stand. The maximum movement speed of the robot is 4km/h, but it normally moves at a speed of about 1km/h.
The map of a facility has to be registered before using the An9-PR, which can determine its position on the map from the number of revolutions of tires, distance to a wall measured by its range sensor and specific marks on the ceiling.
Expecting that the An9-PR will be used in crowded places, Sohgo Security Services paid attention to safety. In addition to the range sensor and ultrasonic sensor on the front, the robot has an infrared sensor around its body and can detect people and objects within a distance of about 50cm. Also, it is mounted with a far-infrared human presence sensor.
Hard sponge is used for the chassis so that the robot does not hurt people even if it bumps into them. It will debut at Hamamatsu Science Museum in March 2010.