Hitachi Unveils Robot That Can Understand Four Languages, Communicate Remotely with Other Bots


Hitachi has introduced EMIEW3, a robot with “remote brain” technology designed to function in real world environments and situations, such as retail stores, public facilities, and tourist areas.

The autobot is the third version of the EMIEW — or Excellent Mobility and Interactive Existance as Workmate — and the first “commercially viable” member of a series of robots originally unveiled by the Japanese conglomerate in 2005. There is little cosmetic difference between the latest iteration and its predecessors besides the addition of its LED beating heart under the surface of its chest; the majority of the upgrades are found under its familiar red and white shell.

Built as an active customer service assistant, EMIEW3’s software utilizes environmment-recognition cameras and understanding of human movement patterns to detect and autonomously engage with those who seem to need assistance. Upon connecting with the customer, EMIEW3 employs multi-directional analysis to accurately recognize and translate voices — four languages so far — even in the midst of noisy environments.

Capable of navigating minor obstacles at nearly 4mph and avoiding objects in its blindspots, the 33 pound humanoid robot can successfully keep up with its human counterparts, even uprighting its 35-inch tall frame if toppled over. Through a cloud-based connection, robots in various locations can communicate with one another while being monitored from a remote location.

While the price of the robot has not yet been decided, Hitachi spokeswoman stated that the EMIEW3 “will be on sale for business use and not for consumers.” With a public launch tentatively planned for 2018, Japanese citizens can expect to reap the benefits of EMIEW3 quite soon.

According to Nikkei Asian Review staff writers Tomohisa Takei and Satoshi Morotomi, “In just a few years [EMIEW3] will provide customer service in airports, hospitals, train stations and other facilities, speaking four languages so that it can even serve the masses of foreign tourists streaming into Japan.” Hitachi has said that once EMIEW3 is on the market, they hope to expand its market beyond Japan.