Rapid Robot Evolution – Rook's Pawn

It's amazing how quickly time zooms by, and how fast robots evolve. Early this year - yes, we're talking about early 2006, Matt Bauer was working on his stock Hitec Robonova-1 humanoid robot kit and happened to run across the Robosavvy website and forum. He signed up as a member and made his first forum post on Sunday,  February 05, 2006.

He's come a long, long way since then. And, in just under two weeks he and his wife will take his robot on another long and exciting journey. This time they're all getting on a plane to compete in the ROBO-ONE 10 competition in Japan against some of the top humanoid robot builders in the world. 

In an extremely short span of time, he's made amazing progress. His robot, christened "Rook's Pawn" has been completely redesigned and rebuilt several times, to the point that it's hard to tell that it started off life as a Robonova.

A few months ago, when Matt flew out to San Francisco to compete in the ROBO-ONE events at RoboGames, Rook's Pawn looked like this:


Matt's modifications included custom designed grippers, changing the body design to add additional degrees of freedom, a head mount video cam, and lots of other sweet changes that you can read about in detail on his website (see links below.) This is the version or 'generation' that was recently featured in the Fall 2006 issue of Robot Magazine.

The "1st Generation" Rook's Pawn performed very well and managed to bring home a silver metal from RoboGames. But Matt wasn't satisfied and knew he would have to improve the robot's performance a lot more if he wanted it to stand a chance going head to head with the top ROBO-ONE designs in the robot homeland of Japan. 

So, over the past few months he's been burning the midnight oil, and smoking a few servos, completely redesigning and improving his robot. Here's what the "2nd Generation" Rook's Pawn looks like now:


And Matt's new poster for the robot:


Rook's Pawn is already listed in the official ROBO-ONE database - he's ID#310, and the registration fees for the ROBO-ONE 10 competition in Nagai have been transfered. It's already August 31st here in Japan and the entry database is scheduled to close at midnight tonight. Tomorrow we'll be able to scan all the entries - there are currently over 100 robots that have completed the entry process - and take a close look at the competition Matt and Rook's Pawn will be up against.

It's going to be a tremendous adventure, and we'll be right there rooting for Matt and cheering Rook's Pawn on. No matter how it turns out and what happens during the competition, it will be a huge amount of fun.

Related links:

Rook's Pawn Official Website

Technical comparison of the 1st & 2nd Generation

Robosavvy Robonova Forum

ROBOT Magazine Website (see photo from the article on Rook's Pawn in the Fall 2006 issue)

Official ROBO-ONE Website (Japanese)


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