2nd Wonderful Robot Carnival – Balloon Survival (Video)


One of the benefits of living here in Japan, and being a dyed in the wool robot fan, is that there are literally countless robot events to pick from - either to watch or to participate in. One of our absolute favorites is the "Wonderful Robot Carnival" events staged biannually in Tokyo by Ishikawa-san.

The Wonderful Robot Carnival format includes some traditional robot games, like a 2 meter sprint, a robot rumble, and a ROBO-ONE style battle in the ring. It also includes some totally 'over the top' competitions like the 'Balloon Survival.' The Balloon Survival concept is simple and straight forward, almost like a kids party game. And like many of the games we played at parties as kids, this robot game is a tremendous amount of fun.

The 1st Wonderful Robot Carnival event was held in Tokyo last summer, and turned out to be extremely successful. Everyone loved the format, the organization, the opportunity to get together, and the fact that every entry ended up winning some prize in the competitions.

Last weekend, based on the success of the first event and the lessons he learned by staging it, Ishikawa-san kicked off the 2nd Wonderful Robot Carnival competition, only this time, because of all the entries, he had to arrange for a hall that was at least twice the size of the previous event.


Ishikawa-san calmly dealing with all the stress and responsibility of putting on a major robot competition like the Wonderful Robot Carnival. 

Balloon Survival uses a team format, with three robots on each team. The robots have a balloon tied to their back (or other places on their bodies) and try to protect it while popping the other teams balloons. A robot is disqualified and taken out of the competition once its balloon breaks, or it falls out of the ring. Each match lasts for 3 minutes.


Shiroma's MANOI AT01 did quite well during the Balloon Survival matches conquering almost every opponent he faced, but was eventually knocked out of the ring. This particular AT01 robot includes additional degrees of freedom (DOF) - arm rotation and hip rotation. Both of these changes are very well documented in the MANOI AT01 manual.

Here's just a small taste of what it was like to be there for the balloon survival competitions:

Related links:

2nd Wonderful Robot Carnival Website (Japanese)


5 thoughts on “2nd Wonderful Robot Carnival – Balloon Survival (Video)

  1. Great fun! But I have several questions:

    1. Did anybody’s balloon actually pop? It seemed in the video like the losses were all due to falling out of the ring.

    2. Related to 1, why did nobody equip their robots with sharp pins or pokers?

    3. Most important: WHAT is that cute little dome-headed robot in the first segment of your video?!? It’s small but seems amazingly agile.

    – Joe

  2. Good questions, as always. Thanks.

    1- Yes, quite a few of them had their balloons popped. There were actually about 5 different bouts that took place. The total number of participants was around 30, with 3 on a team that works out to 5 bouts. So, I have a lot of video footage, and just tried to pickup what I thought were the most interesting bits. Obviously I wasn’t paying enough attention since I failed to include some of the balloon popping encounters. Sorry.

    2- They could, and some of them may have. At the same time, the general tone of robotics here is much more gentle and humanistic than what you might be used to in the US. People would like to ‘win’, but that’s not the overriding objective for most of them.

    3- It was incredibly cute. Other than the servos and controller board, almost all of the parts and materials came from the 100 Yen store (think dollar store). The total construction cost was under $300. I have some other notes, photos, and video clips that I can share as soon as I get caught up.

  3. Thanks for the answers. I expected the dome-headed robot to be some commercial model I hadn’t seen before (or failed to recognize), but I’m actually even more excited to hear that it’s a custom job. I look forward to hearing more about it!

  4. See what you’re causing? :) I’ve actually started work on my own version of that cute little robot we discussed above. You can see what I’ve done so far at my robot log (follow the link on my name). I still look forward to seeing your other notes, photos, and video clips about it!

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