We first saw an early version of the HPI GR-001 humanoid robot at a trade show here in Japan a couple of months ago, and liked what we saw. Now, since it's almost ready to be released for sale, we tracked down one of the production robots and arranged for an extended hands-on, no holds bared, session. The net result? We like it even more!
We'll be posting detailed information, photos, notes, and some additional videos here on Robots Dreams from our evaluation session with the GR-001. But, just to kick things off, we put together a 3+ minute video clip (see below) to highlight just a few of the robot's most impressive features.
First, we'd like to thank Yuki Nakagawa, the founder of RT Corporation in Akihabara for arranging the GR-001 evaluation session and sharing her insight and expertise with us. Nakagawa-san has been involved in robotics both here in Japan and overseas for many years. In addition to running RT, she is also active in the RoboCup, ROBO-ONE, and many other Japan robot organizations. She's also one of the few people we know that has hands-on experience working with the Honda Asimo robot.
It's just a little smaller, yet just as capable, as the typical ROBO-ONE robot. The robot uses a Futaba controller and servos.
A surprising amount of attention was paid to the product design and documentation. The total part count much lower than comparable kits, all the parts are keyed and marked to minimize confusion during the assembly process, and even the box has all the parts laid out in the order of assembly. A novice user will typically take around two to perhaps two and a half hours to successfully complete the assembly.
Notice how the frame to the right of the servo in this photo is keyed to mate with the servo in the right orientation. All the servos are pre-labeled, in this case it's servo 7. If you need to swap or replace servos, the addressing can be quickly changed using a cable and software supplied with the kit.
The attention to detail is really striking. For example, the frame member above has "R" molded right into the plastic to indicate that it goes on the right side of the robot.
The daisy-chain approach certainly has some strong advantages and works very well for the GR-001 robot, It does require more connectors and contacts than other designs, which could potentially cause some connection or reliability issues.
The remote control seems strangely familiar... Devoted video game players will immediately get the hang of it.