I realized last night while talking with some fellow robot builders that the Kondo Land Robot Competition videos so far make the obstacle course look much easier than it actually was. The hazards the robots have to conquer are far from trivial, and the fact that several of them almost made it all the way to the end is a real tribute to the design, implementation, strategy, and piloting ability of their robot designers.
Here's a look at some of the course difficulty:
You need to keep in mind that unlike ROBO-ONE, Robot Sumo, or Micromouse, the Kondo Land competitors didn't have the benefit of past experience, and none of them that we are aware of had the luxury of designing their robot from the ground up specifically for this particular course. Many of the robots were just a little too big for some of the hazards, or their feet couldn't get sufficient traction.
Of course that will change quickly. Now that they have seen and experienced the course first hand, and watched how others fared, they will be back with a vengence. At the 2nd Kondo Land Robot Competition scheduled for late January, we expect to see several new designs fined tuned to successfully navigate this unique robot challenge. Who knows, we might even see a ROBO-ONE style humanoid or two attempt it… That would be very cool.