ROBO-ONE Light 10 Humanoid Robot Competition Behind-the-Scenes Tour (Video)

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Everyone knows how crazy the Japanese are about humanoid robots, but it's hard to really appreciate how extreme the mania is unless you can go behind the scenes and experience it first hand. In mid-March we were lucky enough to have access to all the pit areas for the 10th bi-annual ROBO-ONE Light competition.

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Keep in mind that this is just one of the many humanoid competitions that take place regularly in Japan. There are regional competitions across the nation, some colleges and universities stage regular competitions, and some robot companies like KONDO hold competitions as well. It’s hard to get a good estimate of how many people are actively involved in the sport, and learning experience, nationwide. We can only judge from the large crowds of participants and audience that turn out in force for events like this.

Moreover, each one of those robots represents an investment of typically USD$1,500 or more plus countless hours of assembly, testing, motion creation, modifications/improvements, and practice. It’s not unusual for a fan dedicated to the sport to invest USD$10,000 or more constantly evolving and improving their robot over a period of many years.

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Competitors come from all walks of life, age groups, and genders. While some of the participants are professional engineers, many are students, housewives, and even truck drivers. The one thing they have in common is a passion for robotics.

Related links: ROBO-ONE 10 #robotsdreams

More information at Robots-Dreams.com

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ROBOTIS-MINI Faces Tough Opponents at ROBO-ONE Light in Japan (Video)

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Although the ROBOTIS-MINI entry level humanoid kit robot is considerably smaller and lighter than the typical ROBO-ONE competitor, it still features speed and agility that ensure that with an experienced operator it can survive in the competition ring.

At the ROBO-ONE Light event, held mid-March in Atsugi, Japan, one of the ROBOTIS-MINI robots clearly demonstrated the robots potential. Of course, in the end the laws of physics have to prevail, and as you might expect, the robot was eliminated by a stronger competitor. Nevertheless, the ROBOTIS-MINI managed to duck and weave while avoiding what might have been killer punches from its opponents.

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Think about it for a moment. Here’s a low-cost, under USD$500, humanoid robot that is Open-Source/Open-Hardware, as easy to put together as an IKEA bookshelf, Arduino compatible, targeted at STEM and robotics learners as well as researchers and hobbyists, and it turns out that almost out-of-the-box it is capable of going head to head with ROBO-ONE class humanoids. That’s pretty amazing. The ROBOTIS-MINI is making humanoid robots accessible, affordable, and exciting. You can’t beat that combination.

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Notes:

ROBO-ONE Light is open to all humanoid builders at an entry level and features pre-qualified robot kits that are typically around 1 kg. in weight. Competitions are held the day before the ROBO-ONE events.

ROBOTIS-MINI was formerly marketed as the DARWIN-MINI humanoid robot kit.


Related links: ROBOTIS #robotsdreams

More information at Robots-Dreams.com

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Japanese Government Plans to Stimulate Low Cost Robot Use

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Here’s the online version of the Yomiuri Shimbun article reporting on the Japanese government strategy to boost low-cost robots - http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140615-00050113-yom-bus_all.

Basically the information is the same as we reported in the previous post, though there are a few more specifics. The article also mentions a proposed robot competition, tentatively named “Robot Olympics”, the government plans to stage in conjunction with the Tokyo Olympics and ParaOlympics in 2020. Needless to say the IOC will make them come up with a different name as it has in the past with other robot events.

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Japan Robot Stocks Surge on Rumors of Government Initiative

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Japanese robot stock prices surged in Tokyo when the market opened Monday morning boosted by a report that the Japanese government plans to actively promote the sector in conjunction with the 2020 Olympics.

Share prices of Kikuchi Seisakusho, Cyberdyne, Kawada Technologies, Harmonic Drive Systems, and Hihaisuto Seiko all responded positively when the Yomimuri Shimbun newspaper reported that the government will support the dissemination of low cost robots. The initiative appears to be focused on the manpower shortage in dealing with Japan’s ageing population, nursing care, agriculture, disaster response, infrastructure inspection, and more traditional factory automation applications.

The robot market is expected to expand from 700 billion yen in 2012 to about 2.4 trillion yen by 2020 when the Tokyo Olympics take place. More detailed information on the government’s plans to stimulate growth in the robotics market is expected to be announced later this month.

Related link: Japanese Robot Stocks Surge

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35th All Japan MicroMouse Robot Contest 2014 Announced

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Dates for the 35th Annual All Japan Micromouse Robot Contest were announced by the Japanese New Technology Foundation. The contest, which includes Micromouse Half-size, Micromouse Classic, and Robotrace categories, will be held November 21st-23rd, 2014 at the Atsugi Campus of Tokyo Polytechnic University.

Contest entries will be accepted from September 1st-30th. Admission to view the contest is open to the public with no admission charge.

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RAPIRO Meets Darwin MINI

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Two of the most interesting, and most affordable, humanoid robots that have come on the scene recently are the Darwin MINI (Robotis) and RAPIRO. Both of the new robots have strong/cute personalities and are open-source designs encouraging users to engage, experiment, and learn by doing. They’re extremely user friendly.

Yoshihiro Shibata, a top Japanese humanoid robot designer currently working with Sugiura Machine Design Office, was kind enough to share these side-by-side photos comparing Darwin Mini and Rapiro-

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Kondo RoboSpot Relocating

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For the past eight years, Kondo RoboSpot has been an Akihabara based mecca for humanoid robot enthusiasts and fans from all over the world. The facility has been featured on numerous televisions programs, both in Japan and overseas, and has hosted regular robot competitions including the KondoCup Robot Soccer matches and KondoLand Multi-legged Robot Obstacle Course races. It has been a feature on tours of the Akihabara area. It became one of the ‘must visit’ robot landmarks in the area. 

The company just announced that as of the end of this month, March 31st, the current RoboSpot facility will be closed and will be relocated to the 1st floor of the Kondo corporate headquarters, a few train stops north of the Akihabara location. The new facility, equipped with humanoid robot practice rings, work tables, and fabrication equipment for use by customers, is expected to be open for business sometime in May this year.

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