I always try to put together an interview/shot-list before any major event that I am assigned to cover. It helps to make sure that I don't overlook anything interesting or important to the client, especially in the heat of the moment. Robot events like RobotWorld Korea can be particularly challenging since they expect approximately 80,000 visitors including the general public.
The official exhibitor list, as of October 19th, shows 84 distinct companies, including 5 coming from France. I'm sure that some of the larger companies will have multiple exhibits since many of them have multiple divisions in the robotics sector.
The overall classifications organised by pavilion are shown in the table above, along with the market sector and number of confirmed companies exhibiting. I suspect that the distribution represents a fairly accurate view of priorities within Korean robot manufacturers.
The one sector that really stands out, at least in terms of the number of companies, is education. From the perspective of the Korean focus on the importance of education, and the parent's intense commitment to making sure that their children have the best education possible, it makes a lot of sense.
Keep in mind that these numbers only represent companies and do not include colleges, universities, technical high schools, non-profits, and some research and development facilities. Those organisations are expected to also have a presence at the event.
As a point of reference, South Korea's population is roughly 50 million, compared to a U.S. population of 314 million. If a country with only 16% of the U.S. population draws huge crowds to a robot event like this, and has an obvious commitment to STEM education, what does that tell us about competitiveness, and what can we expect in the future as students graduate into the workforce?
Limor Schweitzer, the founder of Robosavvy - one of the most popular online sources of information, know-how, and humanoid robot parts/kits, was just featured on Bloomberg Televisions where he introduced “Fonzie” the dancing robot. Limor also explained how Robosavvy uses "Fonzie" and their other humanoids to develop research platforms for human-robot interaction.
We're only a week away from the opening ceremony for RobotWorld 2013 in Seoul, Korea and we're seeing hints that some major new initiatives will be disclosed by leading Korean robot companies like Robotis.
There's no English language information available yet, but scanning their website notations in Korean that the Robotis booth will feature "New DREAM, SMART, DARwin-Mini, and the OpenCM9.04 open platform".
Unofficial rumors going around in the robot community are that DARwin-Mini is a scaled down version of the DARwin-OP, retaining a lot of the features and functionality at a much more affordable price point, perhaps well under $1,000 for the base model. People are saying that DARwin-Mini will be open source including the hardware design, which opens the door for customers that want to 3D print their own shells and accessories. Michael Overstreet, a prolific robot blogger and big Robotis supporter, posted some early photos of the DARwin-Mini on his blog.
We'll find out at the event next week. Watch for the latest information directly from RobotWorld here on Robots Dreams.
George Foreman grills are nice, but what if you had a trio of robot minions available at your beck and call to fix a toasty delicious hot cheese and ham sandwich whenever you wanted? Wouldn't that be great?
Just to give you a feel for the scale, Yamada-san's robot sandwich factory is 1.2 meters wide, 90 cm deep, and 110 cm high.
Don't care for cheese sandwiches? OK - how about some delicious BBQ?
Not bad for a 19 year old...
Can't find an electric scooter that suits your fancy? Do what Ben Katz did and build one of your own.
Want to get involved with 3D printing but don't have a big enough budget to buy even one of the current low-cost machines? If you aren't particular about the print quality or size, and don't mind waiting quite a while for delivery, then you might find the Peachy Printer Kickstarter project just what you've been looking for.
The design approach is minimalist, to say the least, and was originally hacked together using parts that Rylan Grayston happened to have laying around on his workbench. It looks very much like a school science project - which I'm not negative or being critical about. Actually I admire his ingenuity and creativity quite a bit.
Rylan, with some help and assistance from his local hackerspace, managed to put together a resin based 3D printer that actually produces parts of surprising quality - surprising given the total lack of precision mechanical drives or other commonly used techniques. Instead of using a z-axis drive mechanism, Rylan decided to keep the build platform stationary while slowly increasing the resin level, drop by drop. By counting the number of drops that fall in the build container, and knowing the container dimensions, his application calculates the current resin level and drives the resin curing laser accordingly.
He eliminated the need for a dedicated micro controller and other electronics by using the audio headphone and microphone jacks on his PC. Of course, this approach is marginally robust and requires that you don't use your PC for anything else while printing - but it does work, which is brilliant.
At first I was a bit concerned that The Peachy Printer Kickstarter project might be a scam, but after watching the introductory video and looking at the associated photos, I decided that it's probably real. In any case the cost is extremely low - basically CAN$100 for one of the Peachy Printer kits.
As I mentioned above, if you do decide to back the project be prepared to wait a while. Most of the reward options have dates in the Fall of 2014 - about a year out at this point in time.
How's Rylan doing so far? Pretty good actually. The initial project funding goal was CAN$50,000, which he needed to improve some of the design and to order parts for the printers. As of October 12th, with 8 more days left to go, he has totally blown away the goal and clocked up CAN$591,450 all ready.