iHobby Expo: Robots, Robots, Robots! (Video)

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  Left to Right: Futaba RBT-1, RoboPhilo, RoboNova I

Although we weren't personally able to make the trek all the way from Japan to Chicago, thanks to all of our great readers that sent in reports, photos, and videos it feels like we were actually there enjoying all the fun and excitement. The latest contribution was lots of great video footage sent in by Marc Lampcov, the CEO of RoboFactors, LLC.

Marc must have spent countless hours capturing all the participating robots on camera because his footage (see below) includes great performances by the RoboPhilo, Robotis Bioloid, Futaba RBT-1, Robonova I, and much, much more.

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Optimus Prime Robot Practices Riding a Motorcycle (Video)

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Inspired by the Robot Magazine project to have a humanoid robot execute a world record motorcycle jump, Matt Bauer mounted his Robonova-1 based Optimus Prime robot on a motorcycle, and started practicing (see video below).

As you might predict, the robot had some difficulty in steering the motorcycle - after all this was his first ride ever. And, we have to admit that the robot did better than we did with our first motorcycle - much better.

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Rook's Pawn Shows Off His Gyro Stabilization (Video)

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Rook's Pawn III started off life as a stock, off the shelf Hitec Robonova-1 humanoid robot kit. Over the past year and a half, Rook's has evolved tremendously - to the point that Rook's creator, Matt Bauer, feels as if he has redesigned the robot from the ground up at least two or three times, including redesigning and replacing almost all of the metal frames and other hardware.

And, all of his hard work and dedication has paid off well. Rook's took home metals from both RoboGames 2006 and 2007, and has even made the trek all the way across the planet to join in the activities at last year's ROBO-ONE 10 competition in Japan.

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3rd Wonderful Robot Carnival: Advancing the Sport (Video)

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Sometimes a little friendly competition can lead to significant performance advances. A few people start playing the 'what if' game. "What if our robots could do..." That triggers some thoughts and the exchange of ideas. At first everyone thinks the new challenge might be too difficult, or they see all the roadblocks in the way.

Pretty quickly though, egged on by each other, and stimulated by the challenge, they start to come up with solutions. Some work, some don't. They figure out what is practical, and what isn't. And, in very short order, a lot of people are doing what they used to think was too tough.

A great example of this is what we saw during the 3rd Wonderful Robot Carnival Die Shoot event here last Sunday afternoon, as you can see from the video below.

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3rd Wonderful Robot Carnival – Keeping the Spirit Alive (Video)

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The 1st Wonderful Robot Carnival, held just one year ago, was an absolute blast. Free of the stress and high pressure environment that's built up around the ROBO-ONE competitions, the Carnival participants could just relax and have a ball playing with their robots in events that were specifically designed to generate the most fun possible. It immediately became our favorite robot competition in the Kanto area.

But, what do you do for an encore? How do you keep a robot competition fresh and exciting, yet keep the rules fairly stable so that entrants don't have to completely rebuild their robots for each event? It can be a major headache, but thankfully Ishikawa-san, the founder and guiding spirit behind the Carnival, was up to the challenge.

For the first two Carnivals, the lead-off event was a 2 meter dash where the robots competed in sets of two, but the scoring was against the clock. To keep the event interesting, and to be able to accommodate the over 40 entries, Ishikawa-san converted the Dash 2000 event into a one meter out, one meter back dash around a pylon (see video below).

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ROBO Virus Spreads in the UK

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We don't want to give the false impression that our favorite humanoid robot hobby/sport is only being enjoyed in Japan or at RoboGames in the US. Far from it. People all over the world are involved, and although their numbers are still relatively small, they are growing rapidly.

For example, several builders in the UK, who met each other via the RoboSavvy forums, took the initiative to organize a ROBO-ONE type competition. They contacted the TIC micromouse organization, and arranged to share a part of their event space, promoted the gathering via RoboSavvy, pulled together some prizes for the winners, and made it all happen. It's a great example of what can be done if people that care get involved and take ownership.

Their robots, by the way, represented all of the popular, well-known kits including Robonova (Hitec), KHR (Kondo), MANOI (Kyosho), and Bioloid (Robotis). The background information and event photos can be viewed on the UK ROBO thread. We're sure that they would be happy to share their experience and learning with others that want to organize a similar event.

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Typhoon Battles Wonderful Robot Carnival and Loses (Video)

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Two major forces of nature hit Tokyo today.

One was incredibly destructive - Typhoon "Man-Yi" that drenched towns, damaged houses, and shut down transportation including stopping the Bullet Train in its tracks for hours.

The other one was incredibly constructive - the 3rd Wonderful Robot Carnival which drew over 40 humanoid robot entries, challenged us with new events and new twists on old events, generated tons of laughs and never ending surprises, and left everyone with big smiles and great memories.  

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Optimus Prime Shows Defiance to Crowds in Ohio (Video)

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Oops, we mistyped that headline. It should have read, "Optimus Prime Shows Off to Crowds in Defiance, Ohio."

Last weekend, Defiance, the hometown of Matt and Jen Bauer of Bauer Independents, and birthplace of Rook's Pawn, was anxiously awaiting the upcoming opening of the new Transformers movie on the Fourth of July. Matt knew that a small town like Defiance, located in the heart of the mid-West wasn't likely to draw any of the movie's stars to the opening, so he decided to take matters into his own hands.

In the matter of just a few days, and a few long nights,  he completely converted Jen's Robonova-1 robot into the spitting image of Optimus Prime!

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