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H-Type & N-Type

MotionLab's subjective view and perspective on the development of mobile robotics in the future is presented on this page. In the first place, any mobile robot is created for the purpose of performing a specific task for the happiness, well-being, benefit, or ease of people. We must be sensitive about the nature of the task the robot is intended to perform.

If a robot is supposed to perform tasks that humans do, we call it H-type. If a robot is not H-type, it is called N-type. By this definition, an H-type robot may NOT be a biped.

Examples of H-type robots are ASIMO of Honda, Partner Robots of Toyota, robots for the ROBO-ONE Competition, the CMU Navlab vehicle that accomplished the Autonomous Driving, robots for the DARPA Grand Challenge, vacuuming robots including Roomba, robots for RoboCup Competition, and Bicycle Robots of Murata Works.

Examples of N-type robots are Swan and Shepherd shown in this site, Lego robots, robots for the Micromouse Competition, Sumo Robots, Helicopter Robots, Snake Robots, and Underwater Robots.

These differences do not matter as long as the robots are developed for research or entertainment purposes only. However, if a robot is supposed to perform real-world tasks for people, the distinction becomes significant. If an H-type robot is to replace a human worker in executing a task, the robot must satisfy the following four laws:

The Four Laws of Mobile Robotics
K1. The robot should cost less than a human worker does.
K2. The robot should understand the operation area of the task.
K3. The robot should perform the task in the exact manner that the master wants.
K4. The robot's performance should be better than a human worker's. 

Law K3 can be further spelled out as follows:

K3a. The robot should accept, understand, and execute task-related instructions given by the master.
K3b. The robot should be able to learn task-related knowledge from the master.
K3c. The robot should report to the master about the present state of execution, execution results, or irregularities encountered in the execution.
K3d. The robot should ask task-related questions to the master to clarify ambiguity.

Therefore, for an H-type robot to be widely accepted as economical and useful by society, the hurdles are extremely high.

On the other hand, for an N-type robot, Laws K1 - K4 do not matter, or are less important.

For this reason, MotionLab has decided to concentrate mostly on N-type robots at least at this time. Obviously MME and MMF are N-type. MotionLab predicts that if the mobile-robot industry is going to emerge, it will happen through the advancement of the N-type robot technology. Spatial-understanding functions will then play a crucial role. 

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