SAMI robot has motion detection from the company behind Kinect's 3D sensors, washboard abs (video)

PrimeSense, the Israeli company whose 3D sensors helped make the Kinect such a massive hit for gamers and hackers alike, has been dipping its feet in the robotic waters a bit as of late. The company offered up its sensors for use in iRobot's telecommunication 'bot, Ava, and now they've made their way into SAMI, a robot platform created by France's CRIIF. PrimeSense sensors are found in the robot's torso (for detecting people) and base (to help it avoid bumping into objects). SAMI's got a pretty broad spectrum of potential applications, including manufacturing and healthcare -- of course, before it goes mainstream in the latter field, we'd recommend a few aesthetic changes to the creepy robot, which took around $100,000 and six people to make. Still we've got to give SAMI some credit for keeping so darn fit. Check out video of the 'bot after the break.

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PrimeSense Sensors Accelerate the Robotics Industry

PrimeSense™ (http://www.primesense.com/), the leader in Natural Interaction® and 3D sensing, announced today that its sensors were used in a new mobile robotic platform called SAMI, a life-sized, semi-humanoid robot prototype that can be utilized cross-industry from healthcare to manufacturing to entertainment and intelligent transportation systems.

Created by the research and technology transfer lab CRIIF (Centre de RobotiqueIntégrée d-Île-de-France), SAMI is a mobile, autonomous and interactive robot. Human-sized, it has an expressive face, two robotic arms and an omnidirectional platform, allowing it to travel alone, avoid obstacles, navigate in its environment and especially interact with people and objects.

SAMI integrates two PrimeSense sensors: one located in the torso to detect humans, as well as one on the mobile base for navigation to scan the environment and avoid obstacles. Using the OpenNI™ open source framework and PrimeSense sensors for applications in healthcare, industrial and research markets, SAMI is designed to do everything humans can do, including carry large loads and open doors. Another potential use aimed for SAMI is to enable to operating with workers (cobotics) for industrial applications. An operator even miles away in front of the PrimeSense sensor could move his body and his arms naturally, while the robot reproduced exactly the same movements.

PrimeSense sensors are already being deployed in other robots such as the iRobot Ava™ mobile robotics platform. Ava, an app ready robot, uses tablet-based control and autonomous navigation to maneuver in complex real world environments. Robots like Ava have great potential for multiple applications in business, retail, security, healthcare and industrial environments.

The robotics industry continues to grow at a rapid pace. In 2008, the total world robot population including service and industrial robots was 8.6 million ande xpected to grow to 13 million by the end of 2012.

"Robots will be practically everywhere in the near future: assisting the elderly, in home care, as personal and security service providers, and they will circulate within a networked environment of communicating devices in the home and work place," said Ohad Shvueli, Vice President, Commercial markets, Primesense. "Primesense technology is positioned to help the robotics industry expedite the pursuit of practical, affordable robotic solutions and create a healthy robotics ecosystem for robotic entrepreneurs, innovators, designers, and application developers. Our sensors enable the robots to see the users and the environment around them."

"Sensors have become a very large centerpiece of advanced robotics. Robotics doesn't really have its own technology, it uses pieces of others, so SAMI is one prototype that is taking advantage of this new technology," said Rodolphe Hasselvander, Director General, CRIIF. "Thanks to advanced technologies such as PrimeSense 3D sensor, originally used in other consumer applications (such as gaming), we are beginning to see a revolution in robotics, opening up limitless possibilities. Both the PrimeSense technology and the sensor's affordable price allow us to reach the mass market with industrial technologies that will be feasible, usable and not too expensive," added Hasselvander.

As the world's population ages, mobile robotic platforms such as SAMI or Ava have the potential to be applied to the healthcare industry -- from helping the elderly or disabled at home to pushing wheelchairs and bringing residents to the cafeteria or outdoors in eldercare homes. In industrial applications, SAMI could complete many tasks that are hazardous to humans.