When you watch a robot competition it’s really hard to get up close to see what the robots are actually doing, and other people’s heads keep blocking your view, and your camera. So, we sent our reporter off to capture some live video footage of a Robo-One battle robot close enough that the robot almost ran into the camera lens a couple of times.
Since we live just outside of Tokyo it was easy enough to hop on the train, and a few minutes later we were popping out of Akihabara Station and into electronics, and robotics Wonderland. We headed directly to the Tsukumo main store.
Note: Photos are not allowed in most Japanese stores, and Akihabara is no exception. We were given permission by the Tsukumo manager and staff to take these photos and the video, but don’t be surprised if a store clerk abruptly asks you to make your camera disappear.
The Tsukumo “Robot Kingdom” is on the third floor of their main store, about two long blocks from Akihabara station. They used to have a whole building devoted exclusively to robotics, but have scaled back a bit.
Although there aren’t any on the store shelves, they still have the Robosapien’s picture posted at the store entrance to attract customers.
Daily demonstrations of the KHR-1 bipedal robots – the basic platform used by all the Robo-One robots – are held at 18:30 on weekdays, and at 13:00, 15:00, and 17:00 on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
A number of vendors have started offering KHR-1 type robots, though Kondo still seems to be holding on to the #1 position. The robots only come as kits that you have to assemble and test by yourself based on the kit instructions. Prices vary from a low of just under 100,000 yen to a high of over 250,000 yen, and that’s without any controller or other add-ons.
We’d seen some impressive photos and videos of the new RoboNova robot, but seeing it in person was doubly exciting. Frankly, if they had been willing to sell me one, I would have bought it on the spot, then figured out how to hide it from my wife later.
It’s been common knowledge here that Hitec has been working on new, high performance, more durable servos for quite a while. All that effort seems to have been incorporated into the RoboNova. It’s really solid. It looks like a piece of fine, precision machinery. Tsukumo is quoting a November 15th release date for RoboNova, but the store manager mentioned that interest is extremely strong and they expect strong sales right from the git-go. The manager did show me the RoboNova they have on exhibit, and let me look at one of the first kits they have set aside as ‘evaluation’ units for special customer. Unfortunately, at this point I don’t qualify. I guess I’ll just have to buy one out of my own pocket.
After a brief conversation, he told me that I had official permission to take photos or videos of anything I found interesting. I definitely took him at his word And, with a little encouragement, he put his favorite Robo-One robot through its paces: