HEBOCON – The Robot Contest for Dummies (Video)

HEBOCON The Robot Contest for Dummies The Jury Selections The 18th Japan Media Arts Festival YouTube

Most robot contests award outstanding performance. All the awards and glory goes to the smarter competitors that take advantage of the best, often state-of-the-art technology. Of course, that comes at a price, building champion level robots isn’t cheap. And, more importantly, it leaves out the vast majority of people who are interested in robotics but can’t compete at the top level, or can’t afford the cost of entry.

The answer, at least in Japan, is HEBOCON: The Robot Contest for Dummies! Drawing from the simplicity of Sumo, HEBOCON rules are very simple. Robots play on a flat rectangular field, attempting to push their opponent off the field, or tip them over. The first robot that goes off the field, or falls over, loses. Of course, some robot builders decide that the best strategy is just to stay alive and on the field, hoping that their opponent will fail all by itself, which happens very frequently. It’s the only robot contest that I am aware of that imposes a penalty for the use of high technology.

HEBOCON The Robot Contest for Dummies The Jury Selections The 18th Japan Media Arts Festival YouTube

By deliberately limiting competitors dependence on advanced technology, HEBOCON stimulates creativity forcing builders to do more with less. Many of the robots are built from parts from the 100 Yen (Dollar) stores with a minimum of electronics and controls. Amazing Quick Floor is a good example. It consists of two miniature 4WD car chassis attached to a large piece of cardboard. The principle is simple. Once Amazing Quick Floor starts it zooms across the competition field sweeping its opponent off the opposite side. But, sometimes surprising things happen, no matter how much you plan ahead. As the organizer observed, “Sometimes crappiness trumps strategy.” It’s all part of the fun.

HEBOCON The Robot Contest for Dummies The Jury Selections The 18th Japan Media Arts Festival YouTube

On the way to the competition one contestant misplaced her robot on the train. When she couldn’t find it, she decided to have a beer instead, and emailed a photo of her beer to the judges. Needless to say, that met with wild approval from the audience.

HEBOCON The Robot Contest for Dummies The Jury Selections The 18th Japan Media Arts Festival YouTube

One match pitted Shirokuma (a white bear made from a pet bottle and featured as “the world’s first drinking robot”) versus Pole Dance Robo (a spinning doll pole dancer). Another match featured an X-rated robot that had to be seen to be believed.

Want to start your own local HEBOCON? There’s even an English version of the rulebook here: HEBOCON Rules (PDF).

So, what’s next? This Saturday at the Makuhari Messe Convention Center the organizers plan to hold GIGAHEBOCONUsing the same basic rules, the GIGA event will feature giant versions of the robots. We can’t wait to see what the entrants have come up with. It has to be massive, yet delightful, robot crappiness. 

Related links: HEBOCON #robotsdreams
More information at Robots Dreams

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

150314 ROBO ONE Light 28 | Flickr  Photo Sharing 1

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.

150314 ROBO ONE Light 27

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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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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NTV Set to Repeat Real Robot Battle TV Special (Video)

Real robot battle

No specifics yet, but NTV has posted a promotional banner on their website advertising the 2014 Real Robot Battle competition. Last years event, which resulted in a 2+ hour television special, turned out to be extremely popular, and the company is hoping to repeat that success and perhaps even turn it into an annual event.

Assuming that the rules haven’t changed from 2013, anywhere from six to eight teams will field massive robots over 2 meters tall to battle it out in the ring. Each robot utilizes a wheeled mobility platform of their own design, but from the knees up the competitors are quasi-humanoid and powerful enough to inflict significant damage on each other. 

This should give you an idea of how big these robots really are:

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