How To Impress Japanese Robot Fans (Video)

The Japanese robot builders are definitely World-Class, even at the hobby level. Their intense focus on the technology, craftsmanship, and quality makes them tough competitors in almost every sector of robotics, except for military/defense applications where the US holds a unique position.


So, if you were an American robot builder who happened to be living here and had the opportunity to compete head to head with the local talent, what could you possibly do to impress them and improve your odds of winning one of the top positions?


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Mini-Documentary From KQED on Hackerspaces (Video)

KQED in San Francisco put together an excellent 5 minute mini-documentary on the hackerspace movement featuring Mitch Altman, one of the founders of the Noisebridge hackerspace:

Search out a hackerspace in your community. They are popping up all over the world. Over here, Tokyo Hackerspace is well over a year old and has established a real presence in the community along with serving as a nucleus and gathering point for crafter's, experimenters, and robot geeks. If there isn't a local hackerspace near you already, then seriously consider starting one.

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Raphael's Crazy Hacks: Shocker Swords! (Video)

Raphael, one of the founders of the infamous NYCResistor hackerspace has what many of us would considered to be a dream job. He gets paid to make totally off the wall creations that some would consider to be a bit bizarre, if not totally deranged. His most recent assignment was to create "Shocker Swords" capable of delivering 800 volt zaps:

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Creatively Demolishing Robot Misconceptions (Video)

How do you measure or compare robots? Ever think about comparing the tonnage? Or how effectively and dramatically your robots can pound the heck out of a dead coyote carcass? Or how it may make a startling impression on a youngster that will last their whole lifetime?

Survival Research Labs has a totally unique, and surprising, approach to robotics. They focus on the artistic, the dramatic, and the memorable aspects and tend to ignore traditional engineering and approaches that might stand in the way of doing what they want to accomplish. Along the way they manage to crack, fracture, and sometimes demolish common misconceptions about robots and their role in society.

From Simone at Suicidebots: "Mark Pauline, punk rock übermensch of Survival Research Labs gave a talk at the Sono­ma County Museum of Art the other day, in which he related his experiences starting up SRL,trials and tribulations along the way, and how the damn kids can’t even fix a toilet nowadays."

Mark Pauline: Grampa Shows The Whipper Snappers How It’s Done

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Aldebaran NAO Robot Developer Program Generates Strong Response (Video)

Response to the Aldebaran NAO Robot Developer Program has been quite strong, much stronger actually than anyone predicted. And, we have to say that the caliber of the applicants is extremely high. We're definitely impressed.

As of earlier today, the program is still accepting qualified participants. If you're interested, and think you're up to the most exciting robot initiative we've seen in years, then review the requirements and put in for a possible invitation to join the program.

Here's the Nao Developer Program video created by the guru's at Aldebaran:

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Using the Kinect with Willow Garage ROS as a Master/Slave Robot Control (Video)

Taylor Veltrop explains and demonstrates his Master/Slave implementation of the Kinect with the Willow Garage ROS system to control a Kondo KHR-1HV humanoid robot, including a few surprises.

The contest description says:

“We invite you to combine an RGB-D sensor (e.g. Kinect, PSDK5.0) with ROS to produce something new, interesting, and fun. It could be anything, from a novel robot control interface to a data-driven art project to pure computer vision. Bonus points if it's also useful (see below). We're offering $8K in prizes. We encourage participants to share, and our rules and judging will reward participants who act in the spirit of collaboration.”

Pretty sweet with $8K in prizes.

Related links:

Official Taylor Veltrop website

ROS 3D Contest Wiki

Taylor's Contest Entry

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ROBO-ONE Humanoid Helper Robot Project: THKR-4 Parties! (Video)

THKR-4 may look more 'robotic' than some of the other entries in the ROBO-ONE Humanoid Helper Robot Project, but that doesn't detract a whit from it's ability to perform useful domestic tasks like greeting guests, opening the refrigerator, serving drinks, popping party poppers to celebrate, and giving a shoulder massage:

The surprising thing about THKR-4 is that it was built completely from off-the-shelf parts with very little modification. It's evolved quite a bit over the past 18 months or so as the robot's developer accumulated valuable knowledge and experience from events like this as well as real world trial runs.

Here's longer close-up view of THKR-4's full demonstration seen from the ROBO-ONE audience projector screen thanks to andonoblog:

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Taylor Veltrop: Willow Garage ROS + XBox Kinect = Robot Master/Slave Control (Video)

Taylor Veltrop, pretty much working on his own in a suburb of Tokyo, has accomplished very professional and noteworthy work in humanoid robotics including integrating the Willow Garage ROS system and the Roboard with a Kondo KHR-1HV; publishing detailed information enabling others to replicate and improve on his work in an Open Source fashion; and making tons of previously obscure information, like Kondo UART configurations, clear and easy to understand and work with. If that wasn't enough, he's also a high level LEGO Mindstorms robot designer, and recently qualified as an official participant in the Aldebaran NAO Robot Developer Program.

We caught up with Taylor at the ROBO-ONE Humanoid Helper Robot Project event on Saturday and asked him about his latest project implementing the Willow Garage ROS system with Kinect to act as a Master/Slave control for his humanoid robot:

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