STMicroelectronics (ST), Geneva, Switzerland, a semiconductor manufacturer, and the Waseda University Humanoid Robotics Institute (HRI), Tokyo, Japan, a robotics research facility, recently announced the development of a two-wheel inverted pendulum robot called WV-1 (Waseda wheeled Vehicle-No.1), the first product of a collaboration to develop humanoid robots and medical care robot systems. It looks eerily similar to a Segway.

Researchers and development engineers from both ST and HRI are cooperating to use the latest semiconductor know-how to promote speedy development of “humanoids” and medical care robotic systems. ST will become a supplier to HRI for semiconductor products, while also furnishing semiconductor prototypes on a cost-free basis. In addition, future ST-HRI cooperation may establish a scholarship for HRI students.

“Robotics technology is expected to be a fundamental technology for the sustainable development of human society in the 21st century in manufacturing industries as well as in nursing care and medical treatment,” says Professor Shuji Hashimoto, director of the Waseda University HRI. “HRI has been researching and developing advanced intelligent robots for the next generation through the integration of machine technology and information technology. The introduction of cutting-edge microelectronics is essential to the realization of such robots.”

The WV-1 is a two-wheeled robot on which a pole with weights is installed in an inverted fashion on a pedestal. A feedback system, controlled with the STM32, ST’s ARM Cortex-M3-based 32-bit MCU and the LIS344ALH 3-axis digital acceleration sensor, allows the robot to move while maintaining its balance. The MCU rapidly computes the angle of robot body incline, angular velocity, and other sensor data, enabling the motor to constantly generate optimum torque, which allows the robot to continue moving smoothly without tipping over. Potential applications for this inverted pendulum robot control technology include postural control functions for humanoids and other devices, realizing new means of mobility.

HRI received a grant from The Robotics Industry Development Council to develop the WV-1. The Institute is also working on plans to commercialize the robot.

For more information, visit STMicroelectronics.