One of the things that really turns us on about robotics is its ability to motivate and inspire people, especially young, budding engineers and designers. Just put two ROBO-ONE type humanoid robots in front of a group of kids and watch how their faces light up and their eyes sparkle. No amount of classroom study, or parental lectures, can compete with the energy and enthusiasm children get from seeing, and interacting, with robots like this.
A lot of the robot builders here in Japan must agree, because the devote countless volunteer hours giving demonstrations, putting on free events, and exposing the next generation to the wonders, and potential of robotics. A good example is Yamaguchi-san, the creator of Onimaru, who regularly participates in free exhibitions at public facilities, like the museum in Kochi where he lives and works.
Onimaru during an exhibition in Kochi today (January 13, 2008). Those faces in the audience tell the whole story. You can be sure that some of them will follow a career in robotics, and even those that don't will have a different relationship with robots than their parents ever dreamed of.
Left to right: Hikaru Fukase (8 years old) holding Onimaru, his mother Nami Fukase, and Yamaguchi-san. Hikaru recently built two small beginner level robot kits and was obviously happy to meet Yamaguchi-san and Onimaru.
Many thanks to Yamaguchi-san! We hope to see you again soon, either in Tokyo or Kochi!