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Fashion robot runs real-time Linux

Mar 20, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 9 views

Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) has demonstrated a Linux-based humanoid robot that will perform in a fashion show next week. The HRP-4C runs the robotics-focused hard real-time ART-Linux distro, which was released this week for Linux 2.6xx under GPL.

(Click for larger view of HRP-4C )

The HRP-4C robot and the open-source ART-Linux distro (see more farther below) were developed by AIST's Human Robotics Group (HRG). ART (Advanced Real-Time) Linux has been used in a variety of humanoid robot prototypes from the Japanese government-backed HRG/AIST, says the group. The newest HRP-4C model announced earlier this week has been a hit on YouTube (see below). Designed to look like a young Japanese woman, the robot stands (and walks) about five feet, two inches (158 centimeters), and weighs about 95 pounds (43 kilograms).

HRP-4C, shooing away paparazzi
(Click to enlarge)

Programmed to walk like a fashion model and bow in traditional Japanese fashion, the robot will make its debut during Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo, scheduled for March 23-29. The HRP-4C can speak, and is equipped with 30 motors in its body for walking and moving its arms, as well as eight facial motors to make expressions. The robot is still a work in progress, and is not yet safety-rated to freely interact with humans, but it is expected to be available soon in kit form, without the face and coverings, for about 20 million yen (around $200,000 US).


At the heart of the HRP-4C is a new version of ART-Linux, a hard real-time kernel developed by AIST's HRG group for robotics applications. The first version of ART-Linux that is compatible with Linux 2.6.xx was released on Sourceforge yesterday under a GPL license. Accessible from user level, the distribution does not require special device drivers, and 10 micro-second periodic execution is possible on an Intel Pentium II, says HRG. Currently, the distribution is said to support x86 and Hitachi SH4 platforms, wrote HRG's Hajime Saito, in an email, but the processor behind the HRP-4C was not revealed.


The Linux 2.6xx version of ART-Linux is available on Sourceforge, with pre-built binaries for Ubuntu 8.04 and Debian 4.0, here. More information, including videos, of other ART-Linux-based humanoid robots developed at HRG/AIST should be available here.

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