Hitachi, according to a March 8, 2006 AP wire release, is developing a security robot that can map its surroundings and look for suspicious changes in the landscape. However, the Hitachi robot is suspiciously similar to a MobileRobots Inc's Pioneer-DX with laser-mapping and navigation-available commercially for nearly four years!
The AP release contains no photos, but photos of the Hitachi robot were printed in Kyodo News on the Web in Japan. These photos show a large bubble covering the robotic base. The front of the Hitachi bubble has a horizontal slit for range-finding readings, just as MobileRobots' navigation system requires.
Says Dr. William Kennedy, co-founder of MobileRobots, "The wheel rims are the give-away. The Pioneer DX systems sold a few years ago had unique gold wheel rims custom-manufactured for our company, which can be seen quite clearly in the photo. We have no problem with customers using our robots to prototype; that's what they're for. But it would be misleading to portray robot technologies we've sold commercially for four years as something new and revolutionary."
MobileRobots Pioneer robots are sold in Japan by Revast Technologies of Tokyo. Revast has sold Pioneer DX robots to Hitachi. MobileRobots has attempted to contact Hitachi concerning the release, but has not yet received an answer.
MobileRobots Inc sells a larger self-charging robot, called PatrolBot™, that performs security tasks, monitors building conditions and makes deliveries in offices, laboratories and clean-rooms. MobileRobots MapperBot™ is used to create electronic floor plans of buildings in minutes. MobileRobots also provide the autonomous "robot brain" system called ARCSinside™ that is used inside larger third-party Automated Guided Vehicles to move goods in factories. Unlike other systems, ARCSinside robots do not need coloured stripes, wires in the floor or triangulation beacons installed around the workspace.