Nakamura's JO-ZERO robot sets a new performance standard (Video)

Akihabara

To the untrained eye, Motohiro Nakamura’s latest humanoid robot creation, JO-ZERO, may look just like any other biped robot kit, but once it starts moving the differences are startling.


Nakamura, a long time ROBO-ONE champion, founder of Himeji Soft Works, and father of the WR-07 transformer robot that captured attention world-wide and logged over 6.5 million views on YouTube, has definitely given birth to a new star in the world of humanoid robotics.



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49th All Japan Plastic Model Radio Control Show

Plamodelradiconshow


The 49th All Japan PLAMODEL RADICON Show (PLAstic MODEL RADIoControl) will take place October 8th through the 11th at the Makuhari Messe Convention Center complex in Chiba. The first two days, Thursday and Friday, are only open to the trade, but on Saturday and Sunday the show is open to the general public.

While the show concentrates primarily on more traditional modeling hobby crafts, like trains, cars, and planes, in previous years there have been interesting exhibits by some of the leading hobby robot manufacturers including JR, Futaba, Kyosho, and Kondo.

This year it’s unclear, at least so far, how strong attendance will be at the show, especially given the rapidly aging demographic of the traditional model making fan and the current economic depression. The age distributions between different hobby modeling sectors has always been striking to say the least. The oldest age group would gather around the electric train exhibits, while their sons and daughters would be clustered in the model and RC airplane booths, and their grandchildren would be happily enjoying the new goodies exhibited by the RC car manufacturers.

The hobby robotics demographic, here and apparently in the US and Europe, extends across multiple generations (from young teens to middle age), and doesn’t really mesh well with the existing modeling communities. Modelers are intent on recreating classic trains, cars, and planes with great precision and detail. In contrast, robot hobbyists are often motivated to create something entirely new to demonstrate their own talent, skill, and creativity, although they often draw strongly on well established robot characters like Gundam and Mazinger.

And, even within the manufacturers companies, there are obvious conflicts of interest and management attention. Exhibit space allocation is often under the control of the existing power base within any given company, so the younger startup groups are sometimes relegated to a back corner of the exhibit. A few years ago the Kyosho MANOI robot series was drawing great press and public attention both inside and outside Japan. It was frequently featured in the mass media and on major television networks. But at the show that year the robot was only visible on stage for a few limited minutes, then hustled off to make way for the RC racing car models. The robot group staff were assigned to a broom closet sized niche deep inside the exhibit where interested customers really had to hunt to find them.

It will be interesting to see how the situation has changed this year, if it has changed at all. Our own personal take on it is that sooner or later the hobby robot community will have to find its own way and stand on its own two feet. Companies like Kondo, Vstone, and Robotis have already proven that there is a huge, largely untapped, market for well designed, well supported robot kits that allow their owners to express their creativity and craftsmanship.

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HPI Set to Unleash G-Dog Robot

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Using the same basic robot parts, servos, and design strategy made popular by their G-Robot humanoid robot, HPI has announced the upcoming release of the G-Dog - a four footed canine robot. The G-Dog robot will feature 9 degrees of freedom (DOF) using Futaba RS304MD servos and the RPU-11 controller. Initial shipments are forecast for July of this year. The robot pricing has not been released yet. 

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HPI Preparing New Parts Options for the G-ROBOTS Robot Kits

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It's going to take us a day or two to translate, and perhaps longer than that to figure out the full implications, but it appears that HPI will be rolling out a long list of new parts and other items for its popular G-ROBOT humanoid robot kits.

The G-ROBOTS line was designed in conjunction with Futaba, and is essentially identical to the Futaba RBT-1 robot sold in the US. At this point there is no word on whether or not the same new parts will be made available for sale outside of Japan.


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Kondo Rolls Out New Robot Controller Board

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Here's the scenario: A few years ago we bought a Kondo KHR-1 (the original version) and took a two day class covering how to assemble, test, and program the humanoid robot. As fate would have it, we also had the opportunity to sit in on a pre-release private seminar on the RCB-3 robot controller board. The board was released for sale within about a month, and was quickly followed by the new KHR-2HV humanoid robot that used the controller board.

Now, a couple years later, Kondo has just announced a brand new controller board, the KCB-1, that looks pretty sweet, at least from the published specifications (see below). Will history repeat itself? Will Kondo release a hot new humanoid robot in the near future? It's any body's guess. We don't have any inside info on this one, but we would sure love to...


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ROBO-ONE: Grand Championship Competition @ IREX (Video)

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Unfortunately we had a family situation to deal with on Saturday and missed the ROBO-ONE Grand Championship competition staged on the last day of the IREX show here in Tokyo.

But, thanks to "LilMissySuicide", aka Simone - by far the better half of RoboGames, we're able to share a video of the final match of the day (see below).

We have to say that some of the action, especially King Kizer's strategic moves, both defensive and offensive, are quite amazing. He definitely earned the championship.

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Futaba RBT-1 Robots Strut Their Stuff (Video)


We did one of the first reviews of the Futaba based HPI G-Robot when it was first introduced to the press almost a year ago, and have to admit the design and performance was quite impressive, even if it was a little pricey.

Since then Futaba has released basically the same design in the US, at a lower price point, as the RBT-1 humanoid robot. So, we were quite interested to see how the Futaba robotics group staff would show off the robot to its best advantage.

We got exactly that opportunity (see video below) a couple weeks ago at the All Japan Plastic Model/Radio Control show at the Makuhari Messe Convention Center complex.

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