RoboGames 2008: The Master's Voice (Video)

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Ever wish you could spend some time learning at the feet of a black belt robotics sensei? Thanks to SYSTM on Revision3, you can do just that. Following RoboGames 2008, Patrick Norton interviewed David Calkins, the event founder and well known expert on robotics, for just over 40 minutes (Video below).

David covers the background of humanoid robotics, why you want to start with a kit rather than building your own from scratch, how gyros and other sensors are used, and a step-by-step walk-through of motion creation. The robots used for the session were Hitec Robonova-1 bipeds, but the basic principles covered apply to all humanoids. 

As a special added bonus, David introduces the plans for a full-on MechWars robot competition and shows one of the initial prototypes. He also pulls the wraps off a special Hitec sponsored educational program where qualified schools and universities can purchase ready to walk (RTW) Robonova-1 robots for as low as USD$500 each.

Note: Be sure to watch all the way to the end. The bloopers at the end are hilarious.

Did we mention that David gives buku props to Matt Bauer numerous times during the program? Way to go Matt!

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UK RoboSavvy Humanoid Event-Part 1 (Video)

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Almost instantly after we mentioned that we would like to see some photos and videos from the UK humanoid event that was held last weekend, Orac pinged us with a pointer to the files. It looks like everyone had a fantastic time.

ROBO-ONE style robotics had definitely taken hold in the UK, which is extremely encouraging. Hopefully it will motivate some of the humanoid robot kit manufacturers to take the market and customers outside of Japan seriously.

We're going to post several of the videos from the event, which was organized by active UK based members of the popular RoboSavvy robot forums. To get things off to a good start, here's a highlight video put together by OraNova (BillB).

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Robonova-1 Figures

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Tsukumo Robot Kingdom here is putting the Robonova-1 (both kit and RTW versions) on sale during July - reducing the price by about $100. It's almost enough for us to seriously consider adding one to our growing collection of humanoid robots.

It's even more interesting to speculate on why they are cutting the price. Is it too much of a stretch to guess that a RN-2 is waiting in the wings? Frankly, we doubt it, but who knows? Certainly not us.

The Tsukumo blog also estimates that there have been 300 million RN-1 sold, which has to be a major slip of the decimal point. Our guess would be closer to 30,000 world-wide including the RoboZak kits that are just repackaged Robonovas.

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Researching Robonova With Google

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With the 1st US Hitec Robotics Cup competition coming up this April, just a few months away, we needed to refresh our memory on the Robonova-1 humanoid robot.

The Robonova-1 is, without a doubt, the best selling robot in its class in terms of world-wide sales, and is instantly recognizable. But, when was it actually introduced? And what was the initial press and public reaction?

We weren't exactly sure, and didn't want to trust our fading, and sometimes fuzzy recollection. So, as usual, we turned to Google to try and scope out some answers.

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Robonova and the WiiMote (Video)

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Right after we posted about RoboDance 4 supporting the WiiMote with the i-SOBOT, we found a project by BillB on the RoboSavvy robot forums to implement the WiiMote with the popular Robonova-1 humanoid robot.

While the RN/WiiMote project isn't as complex, nor as far along as RoboDance 4, it is a clear demonstration of what can be accomplished. We can hardly wait to see a more robust and fully developed version.

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Robonova-1: Tsukumo Starts Sales of New Sensors

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Tsukumo Robot Kingdom in Akihabara just started selling two new sensor options for the Hitec Robonova-1. Both sensors are sourced from Hitec Muliplex Japan, so apparently they are officially supported products compatible with the Robonova-1 humanoid robot.

The first sensor, pictured left, generates a digital sensor output signal when touched. The sensor substrate is only 12.9x29 mm. The second sensor is a peak sound detector that generates a signal if it hears a loud noise like clapping hands.

Both sensors are priced at 2,000 yen on the Tsukumo Robot Kingdom website.

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Robot Kits Are Just The Beginning (Video)

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Some people buy a hobby robot kit, assemble it, try out the motions provided by the manufacturer, and then get bored. But for others the stock kits are just the beginning of the fun and challenge. They take the standard robot and start to add a lot of their own creativity and skill. The results can be very rewarding in terms of personal satisfaction and peer recognition.

A great example is the work done by "Eullin" and posted recently on the RoboSavvy forums. He started with a standard, off the shelf, Hitec Robonova-1 then let his imagination and creativity loose. His video below should give you a good idea of what can be accomplished with some dedication, effort, and time.

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