A little friendly competition is usually a good thing, and if it happens to involve some robots, then it's double or even quadruple goodness. We've posted before about the Plen robot's ability to roller skate and skateboard. It's performance was surprisingly good and very realistic. Many robot hobbyists, and a few pro's, immediately wanted to recreate Plen's free-rolling escapades.
The Plen robot has 21 degrees of freedom that allow it to make some unique moves, and with a street price of around USD$ 2,500 it's beyond the reach of a lot of budding robot experimenters. But, why let little things like physics, mechanics, and budget stand in the way of having fun?
We hang out frequently at the Robosavvy robot forum website, sometimes posting but more often just lurking and enjoying all the action.
The site includes active forums focused on popular robot kits including the Kondo KHR-1 and KHR-2HV, the Hitec Robonova-1, the Bioloid kits, and home-builts. All of the forums are interesting and often include lots of reviews, posts about builders experiences - both positive and negative.
Some of the members are just starting out with robotics while others are so advanced that they are designing and building their own humanoid robots from the ground up. And they really appear to believe in the benefits of some friendly competition, especially when they can have a lot of fun doing it.
Faced with Plen's example, it didn't take long for active Robosavvy forum members like Beermat and Hivemind (those are their actual forum screen names - we're not making this up) to figure out how to hack and program their Robonova-1 robots in an attempt to give Plen (and each other) a run for it's money.
In very short order they started posting photos and videos documenting mods to add roller skates to the Robonova-1. Then Beermat demonstrated his robot 'pole-skating' - an indoor version of cross country skiing.
Not to be outdone, Hivemind taught his Robonova-1, aptly named "Thor", how to mount a skateboard and get trucking:
It's not perfect yet, and certainly not as cute as Plen's skateboard moves, but it is good - very good - much better than we thought would be possible. And it gives us a strong taste of what might be accomplished given a little more time and experimentation. We're definitely looking forward to their next attempts.