One of the big problems we consistently face as technologists is in recognizing and understanding new advances. We, like most human beings on the planet, automatically seem to classify new objects and experiences into our existing categories. We look at something new, and quickly decide that it is 'just like x...', then we put that label on it, and we quit trying to really understand it for what it really is, or might become.
A recent example of this is the SPC-101C 'internet robot' introduction held just a couple weeks ago here in Tokyo. Many reporters saw the SPC-101C as just another humanoid robot - not much different from dozens they are already familiar with. Other reporters were impressed by the vision/face recognition abilities of the robot, and quickly, within just a few hours, popular technology sites were trumpeting the news that Speecys had just introduced a "face-recognizing" robot.
Of course both of those views of the robot are true, but in many ways they are like peeking into a room via the keyhole. They only tell a small part of the total story. We'd like to expand those limited views to include much more of what the robot is capable of, and the promise for the future that it represents.
We spent most of the afternoon and early evening at the Speecys labs here in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, and thanks to the kindness, and openness, of Kasuga-san, the Speecys founder, we came away with a wealth of information, and a totally new perspective on how humanoid robotics is likely to evolve over the next few years.
We'll need quite a few posts, over the next week or two, to explain why this new robot is so exciting, and its promise for the future. But, we do want to share a brief video (see below) to give you a taste for the robot's ability.
We reported just a few days ago that the new Futaba RBT-1 humanoid robot kits were arriving at US distributors, and now some of the first US customers already have their robots up and running, and performing neat moves including soccer kicks and handstands.
Chuck, a.k.a. 'CdRaptor' from the RoboSavvy robot forum, was one of the lucky customers to receive his robot and shared the three video clips below.
’Futaba Robots Invade The US (Video)’ continues
Thanks to a very timely and welcome heads-up by "cdraptor" from the RoboSavvy forums, we were able to confirm that the long anticipated Futaba RBT-1 humanoid robot kits are now shipping in the US.
We've been interested in the robot since we first saw it in action last Fall at a hobby show in Chiba, and had the chance to do considerable hands-on testing and evaluation of the Futaba robot version sold in Japan through an OEM relationship with HPI under the G-Robot brand name. We definitely liked what we saw, and have been waiting to see how this high performance, high flexibility robot is received by the US market.
Over the past month or so, there have been strong indications that the RBT-1 would start shipping soon since Boss Robot Hobby in Berkeley started offering the robot kit via eBay, and Trossen Robotics also listed it on their website. According to Johnny at Boss Robot, who's really excited about the new kit, Futaba had committed to deliveries starting on July 16th. They must have lived up to their word because earlier today, Trossen posted photos of the first unit they received along with their initial impressions - which appear to be quite positive and excited. "Let the games begin!"
The first post in our review of the new HPI G-Robots GR-001 humanoid robot covered the overall design, architecture, and motions, including a video of the robot being put through its paces. The second post in the GR-001 series focused on the 3D display and using it to adjust the robots servo positions interactively.
Now we'd like to show you how the motion editor application makes it a pleasure to work with the robots poses, motion sequences, and scenarios. It's probably particularly timely since the GR-001 robot kit goes on sale tomorrow morning here in Japan.
RT Corporation, founded by Yuki Nakagawa, has always been one of our favorite stops whenever we have the opportunity to visit the Akihabara electronics district of Tokyo. Now she has given us a couple of new reasons to visit the RT showroom as often as we possibly can manage.
As you can see from the photos below, RT has moved to a bigger, and much more spacious, facility just a couple minutes walk from the main Akihabara train station. It's obvious from the size, and the stock in the RT showroom, that they are firm believers in the concept that the robot boom is starting to experience a strong growth explosion, not just here in Japan, but globally.