All of us tend to focus on the winners in any sport and quickly forget about the other competitors that came close, but not quite close enough. It's human nature. But sometimes the effort and spirit put out by the competitors that don't manage to take the first place ribbon is truly unique - something we should study, respect, and learn from.
This was definitely the case with the performance recorded by Maeda-san's popular OmniZero robot at the recent ROBO-ONE Special: Eagle event held in Kawasaki.
OmniZero started off well, and managed to work his way across the horizontal bar with very little delay or problems. You can see his unique style in the previous Eagle video report, so we won't bother to repeat that segment again here.
Unfortunately he had a lot of trouble with the turntable. It was really difficult, not just for OmniZero but also for quite a number of the competitors. He lost a lot of precious time trying to conquer it. In the end, he finally managed to cross it, but time was rapidly slipping away.
The Gangway, a narrow walkway with a 90 degree turn, turned out to be one of the best obstacles in the Eagle course for OmniZero to show his real talents. It wasn't obvious to the audience until one of the judges mentioned it, but Maeda-san had gone to the trouble of equipping the robots feet with specially designed optical sensors. This allowed the robot to tell when it was close to the edge on either side and correct its course. It worked perfectly, and OmniZero easily conquered that particular obstacle with a lot of class and style.
The real heart-breaker, as we mentioned before, was that OmniZero ran out of time just as he was starting to climb the flight of stairs. Legally it was 'Time Up', and the referee could have had Maeda-san take the robot off the course. But because of the valiant attempt the robot had made up to that point, and because OmniZero is a big crowd favorite, they let him continue his stair climb even though it wouldn't officially count.
To everyone's surprise, OmniZero ascended the stairs by walking across them rather than placing his feet flatly and squarely on each step. Maeda-san had modified the robots soles to include special spacers that allowed it to place the back of a sole on one step while the front of the sole was placed one step ahead. OmniZero proceeded to climb the stairs with no problem at all, almost like a mountain goat.
Here's what OmniZero's Gangway and Stairs attempts looked like:
Really amazing. We can hardly wait to see what Maeda-san and OmniZero come up with for the ROBO-ONE 10 competition next month.