The robot that literally ran away with the top prize in the Demonstration phase of the 9th Robo-One competition held here in Tokyo on March 18-19th, 2006, was OMNIZERO.2, the brainchild of Takeshi Maeda. Not only is the robot a technical tour-de-force, Maeda is also quite a showman. His 2 minute demonstration of the robot's capabilities included putting it to sleep, waking up, running, jumping, posing, and visual object tracking. And, right at the end of his performance with the 10 second clock running, Maeda puts the robot back to sleep and wishes it sweet dreams.
Maeda has been a top Robo-One builder and competitor since he designed his first "OmniHead" biped robot back in 2002. In fact, his ID number in the Robo-One database, assigned in chronological order, is #6.
His robots have captured high honors, usually for their technical excellence, in the Robo-One competitions going back to Robo-One 3. As you might expect, they do very well in the special competitions including the Ball, Door, Eagle, Stairs, and Dash events.
OMNIZERO.2 is slightly smaller than the typical Robo-One entry, standing only 40 cm. (15.8 inches) tall, and tipping the scales at 1.9 kg (4.2 pounds). But what he gives away in terms of size, he more than makes up for with his speed, flexibility, and nimbleness. He can literally run rings around many of his competitors in the ring, and often does. And, he can jump about 3 cm high.
A camera built into the robot's head allows him to track objects like the checkered flag shown in the video. You can see how he recognizes it and tracks it closely when Maeda-san shows him the flag, then how he relaxes when Maeda puts the flag away.
Maeda certainly knows how to please the crowd as well, and has added lots of little touches to the robot's performance. Notice at the beginning of the videoclip when the robot lies down to sleep how he is programmed to make small motions mimmicing breathing, and how he gestures with his hand. Very cool.
During the initial Demonstration stage of the competition, the robot scored an amazing 437 points from the judges. It's closest competitor only garnered 416 points, and only the top 6 robots scored over 400 points.
Unfortunately, although he won his initial bouts in the ring, and made it into the 'Best 8', he was defeated during the final head to head battle. OMNIZERO.2 may not be the top contender in the battle ring, but from a technology perspective, he is definitely the 'state of the art' in Robo-One class robots today.
Here is the video of OMNIZERO.2 as Maeda presented him to the Robo-One panel of judges and the crowd:
Note: 3/28/2006 - youtube.com is rolling out changes to their website that might cause the video to be temporarily unavailable. If it doesn't appear above, then click here to view it or check back soon.
Maeda's Robot Website (Japanese)
OMNIZERO.2 versus MYRO-3 (Video) (English)