With the 1st US Hitec Robotics Cup competition coming up this April, just a few months away, we needed to refresh our memory on the Robonova-1 humanoid robot.
The Robonova-1 is, without a doubt, the best selling robot in its class in terms of world-wide sales, and is instantly recognizable. But, when was it actually introduced? And what was the initial press and public reaction?
We weren't exactly sure, and didn't want to trust our fading, and sometimes fuzzy recollection. So, as usual, we turned to Google to try and scope out some answers.
It turns out that Google has recently introduced some extremely powerful search options that made our task a pleasure.
For example, if you search for "robonova" on the Google News page it returns any recent press articles that contain the search term. But, scroll down the left sidebar and you will find options to search the archives for specific date ranges, or for 'all dates'.
That, in itself, is extremely helpful. Of course there are some results that link to the archives for actual newspapers, and many, but not all, of those sites still charge to let you access their archives. Still, for our purposes, just being able to read the article abstract was fine.
The fun was just beginning. Next we hit the 'Timeline' link at the top of the page and waited just a fraction of a second while the Google Wizard did its magic.
Google came back with all the "Robonova" news articles, across numerous countries and languages, arranged neatly in chronological order, and even provided a clickable timeline across the top of the page. It was easy to see when the robot first caught public attention, and the peaks and valleys of interest in the product over the past couple years.
Clicking on any of the time line bars brought up another search page featuring the desired time window.
Of course, we knew that the Robonova is popular all over the world, but the number of news articles in Japanese, Korean, English, Spanish, Hebrew, and numerous other languages really brought home the fact that Hitec has aggressively marketed the robot globally, unlike most of their competition.