We're not sure exactly why the international press overlooked one of the three top awards granted during the Japanese government sponsored robotics award ceremony here last Thursday. According to the official press release, and reports in the Japanese press, top recognition went to the Fuji Heavy Industries automatic facility cleaning robot, the "My Spoon" feeding robot, and to the Kondo KHR-2HV Humanoid Robot kit.
As far as we are aware, this is the first time for a small, independent company like Kondo to be recognized by the government for making a major contribution to the advancement of robotics. It's certainly true that projects like 'My Spoon' and 'Paro" - the lifelike baby seal companion - demonstrate Japan's focus in applying robotics to major social and economic issues. At the same time, Kondo's award clearly shows an official recognition of the importance of inspiring and motivating the next generation of robot designers while proactively introducing robotics to the general public.