In Japan, where the population continues to dwindle due to a low birth rate and aging population, various industries are expected to face a grave shortage of labor in the long term. Although the introduction of robots to work in place of humans is one way to resolve this issue, the robots that are currently thriving in the industrial field have been designed to automate a portion of the manufacturing process by exerting forces that are orders of magnitude stronger than humanly possible.
Therefore, the use of conventional industrial robots has not spread in fields that require precise work, as these robots struggle to handle soft articles and articles with indefinite shape. Accordingly, Mizoguchi has developed ABC-CORE, the IC chip that can easily put real haptics into practice, in an effort to allow robots to thrive in more fields.
Real haptics is a technology that was invented at Keio University, where Mizoguchi used to conduct research; to give machines tactile sensations. Tactile sensations and the amount of force exerted are digitized and recreated through robots by having a human equipped with gloves making movements to send subtle sensations or by incorporating a pre-measured amount of force to exert. As a result, it becomes possible to task robots with precise work that requires the control of force that had been previously handled by artisans and surgeons.
Mizoguchi founded Motion Rib in order to facilitate the implementation of real haptics and developed ABC-CORE as a controller of force and tactile sensations that is powered by real haptics. Through its incorporation of motors used by robots, ABC-CORE enables real haptics to be used easily, as it computes the load placed on the motor using its proprietary estimation algorithm. It is undergoing testing in the facilities and products of roughly 70 companies, of which some have begun implementation.
Mizoguchi believes that robots that can precisely control force will save nursing, agriculture, food manufacturing, and other industries that are troubled by a shortage of labor. In addition, real haptics could also free humans from having to carry out precise tasks in dangerous environments, such as during natural disasters, and harsh environments, such as when the outside temperature and humidity are high. The issues that real haptics can resolve are not limited to the shortage of labor.