The popular press tends to focus on some of the more well known Robo-One robots, especially those that end up winning the big trophies. But living here in Japan and attending many of the competitions from start to finish, we have come to realize that some of the most interesting robots have missed the press spotlight. One of our personal favorites is King Kizer, a really exciting robot developed by the Maru Family from Osaka.
We had the opportunity to sit next to the Maru family team during part of the Robo-One competition last weekend, and what we saw really impressed us.
Not only are their robots technically superb, an amazing amount of time and effort goes into the artistic and external design. They are well known among the Japanese Robo-One community for the custom shells - or ‘armor’ that make their robots look exactly like something right out of a Japanese manga or anime.
Their expertise and know-how isn’t just ‘external’ either.
During the initial demonstration phase of the Robo-One competition, they had King Kizer actually jumping rope as you can see from the video below. Not only does King Kizer leap into the air high enough for the rope to pass under his feet, he actually bounces several times with quite a bit of spring in his legs, and keeps his balance without a hint of hesitation or problems.
And, they have equipped King Kizer with the ability to track his opponents in the ring, and strike out at them. The robot isn’t autonomous, at least not yet. But they are certainly making terrific strides in that direction.
Here’s a video that we took of King Kizer’s demonstration at the 9th Robo-One competition:
King Kizer isn’t their only robot. Family members also participated in the Robo-One J competition the day before, and they have a number of early generation robots shown on their website.
Their robot shells, all custom created, are done using a simple vacuum forming technique that they have openly shared with the Robo-One community. A lot of the parts for the process are items you might find in your local dollar store (100 yen store here in Japan.) Nevertheless, their results are as professional as anything you would find in a store, and definitely demonstrate a tremendous amount of care and craftsmanship (takumi in Japanese).
We’ll be in the Osaka area in May for the Robo-Fight competitions and hope to learn more about King Kizer and some of the other Maru family creations during our visit.