ROBO-ONE Light 10 Humanoid Robot Competition Behind-the-Scenes Tour (Video)

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Everyone knows how crazy the Japanese are about humanoid robots, but it's hard to really appreciate how extreme the mania is unless you can go behind the scenes and experience it first hand. In mid-March we were lucky enough to have access to all the pit areas for the 10th bi-annual ROBO-ONE Light competition.

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Keep in mind that this is just one of the many humanoid competitions that take place regularly in Japan. There are regional competitions across the nation, some colleges and universities stage regular competitions, and some robot companies like KONDO hold competitions as well. It’s hard to get a good estimate of how many people are actively involved in the sport, and learning experience, nationwide. We can only judge from the large crowds of participants and audience that turn out in force for events like this.

Moreover, each one of those robots represents an investment of typically USD$1,500 or more plus countless hours of assembly, testing, motion creation, modifications/improvements, and practice. It’s not unusual for a fan dedicated to the sport to invest USD$10,000 or more constantly evolving and improving their robot over a period of many years.

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Competitors come from all walks of life, age groups, and genders. While some of the participants are professional engineers, many are students, housewives, and even truck drivers. The one thing they have in common is a passion for robotics.

Related links: ROBO-ONE 10 #robotsdreams

More information at

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Intel Jimmy – 21st Century Robot Project – Andrew Alter Interview – Part 2

intel jimmy robot

Developing a new humanoid robot like Intel’s Jimmy isn’t a trivial task by any stretch of the imagination, yet they were able to quickly bring the robot to the debut stage in record time. I was curious about how they were able to achieve so much so fast, and Andrew Alter, the Lead R&D Engineer at Trossen Robotics explained how Jimmy leverages Open Source technology, like the DARwin-OP Project, and benefits from advice/assistance from other leading humanoid guru’s.

Lem: What’s the difference between this robot and the Darwin-OP?

Andrew: The robot itself is a derivative of the Darwin-OP project. Part of the goal of the original Darwin-OP project, which was funded by an NSF grant, was to build an open source extensible humanoid platform.

The Darwin software framework provides an amazing starting point and features the best open source humanoid robotics code out there. However its fairly complex and so not many people outside of university environments are doing a lot with it to further development. Plenty of teams who compete using them in RoboCup, but people actively developing and expanding the open source project are somewhat rare (or at least, not many are publishing their work, which is understandable because of the competitive nature of Robocup!)

I took the framework and have been working for the last 6 months in conjunction with Intel, USC, Olin College, and Wayne Losey- (as well as my mentor Rob Farrell, whose sage advice and wisdom I have to thank for leapfrogging me into humanoid robotics) to advance the code.

Lem: Is the code and functionality continuing to evolve?

Andrew: We are adding more features, code comments, and documentation (code comments are largely non-existent), and most importantly a REST based API which will expose the higher level functions of the robot so that we can get more developers onboard. 

Lem: Sounds like the code is really complex.

Andrew: The stock code essentially is at a Masters of CompSci level as it stands, so were hoping to make it a lot more accessible to people. They won’t have to dig into the core code, unless they want to.

I've also made it more scalable for larger or smaller size humanoid robots by more easily exposing and documenting the parameters within the code where this can be modified. Lastly, we've made the code to be more flexible when it comes to OS and CPU compatibility.

I've done testing on ARM based ODROID boards using Xubuntu, the 64bit Intel NUC running Ubuntu 14.04 and Yocto OE Linux, and the Minnowboard, and open source Atom based board from Intel (same OS selection as the NUC).

The Yocto Project is very interesting, providing a development framework to deploy highly-customized OpenEmbedded Linux OSs. We have a 'Meta-21CRobots' Yocto layer which tells the Yocto IDE exactly how to configure the OS for one of our robots, and is more or less agnostic to the CPU hardware you're using. This is a huge step in creating a unified OS architecture for us to develop on.

Lem: Comparing Jimmy to the original concept units I saw at the World Maker Faire in New York last September, it looks like there are a lot of changes.

Andrew: Hardware wise, everything has been completely redesigned from scratch. New 5052 custom aluminum frame components, torso, head, electronics, etc.

The Jimmy robot is literally over 3x as big as a Darwin, standing 68cm tall and weighing in at 6kg. The servos used in the legs are the top-of-the-line MX-106T as opposed to the MX-28Ts used on the Darwin- almost 3x the torque. 

Lem: 3D printing played a big role in Jimmy’s design also.

Andrew: We designed the 3D printed shells to be easily modifiable so users can customize the appearance.

Lem: How does Jimmy compare to DARwin-OP in terms of CPU and other electronics?

Andrew: The Darwin currently runs a fairly outdated Intel Atom single core 1.1ghz processor with 1gb of ram (think original netbook). The Jimmy research humanoid comes stock with a quad core i5 CPU with 4gb of ram, 32gb SSD, and WiFi/Bluetooth/gigabit/usb3.0.We're replacing the CM-730 with an completely open-source Arbotix-PRO, which will feature an upgraded Cortex M4 w/ integrated floating point math and gigabit ethernet. 

Lem: It sounds like Jimmy will literally run rings around DARwin-OP...

Andrew: Performance wise the robot is about twice as fast, has a much larger payload capacity, and can run for 60-90 minutes. The Darwin ran for 15-20 on average as a point of comparison. We can stably walk about 30cm/sec, with bursts up to 50cm/sec (though users must be very careful of inertia during acceleration/deceleration at these speeds). 

Overall we’re standing on the shoulders of giants to improve an already amazing platform. The Darwin-OP project provided such a great leaping point, and projects like this are exactly why the open source robotics initiative is needed.

Stay tuned for Part 3….

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Intel Jimmy – 21st Century Robot Project – Performance Demonstration (Video)

Intel Jimmy Robot

Intel wants to remove a lot of the barriers to entry in robotics so that more people can get involved, and hopefully contribute their ideas, know-how, and skills to rapidly evolving the technology. And, of course they hope that will also result in lots of new robots incorporating Intel semiconductors and other products.

One of their big initiatives is "The 21st Century Robot Project" that will make available robot kits featuring completely Open-Source humanoid robots with advanced functionality. This will allow developers to focus on their application and particular area of interest without getting hung up trying to make the robot walk.

In this initial video, Jimmy - the first 21st Century Robot humanoid to debut, demonstrates some of his skills and capabilities.

I’ll be posting additional information and videos on Jimmy’s development, specifications, the two other smaller Jimmy versions, and future plans.

Video footage courtesy of Andrew Alter (Trossen Robotics -

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DARWIN MINI Humanoid Robot Assembly (Photo Gallery)


The new DARWIN MINI humanoid robot from Robotis is definitely the easiest, and most straight forward, assembly process I’ve ever experienced. Over the years I’ve assembled about a dozen different humanoid robots from manufacturers all over the world. As far as assembly is concerned, the DARWIN MINI beats them all, hands down.

Here’s a photo gallery with detailed images documenting the entire process:

Via: DARWIN MINI Humanoid Robot - a set on Flickr

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ROBOT JAPAN 7th Competition Scheduled for January 19, 2014


The 7th Robot Japan competition will take place Sunday, January 19, 2014 at the Buddhist Hall in the Tsukiji district of Tokyo. Events will include ROBO-ONE style robot kung-fu in both the light and bantam weight categories, performance, dance, and marathon race.

The doors open at 11:00 am and typically run until around 5:00 pm with a 1 hour break for lunch. The event is open to the general public with an adult ticket price set at 1,500 yen.


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Robot Fashion Contest – Osaka, Japan

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The annual Robot Fashion Contest in Osaka, Japan is scheduled for November 24th.

It's one robot competition that depends more on style and beauty than on technical merit or raw power. "Performance" takes on a totally different meaning.

Competitors are judged on esthetic factors, and the rules are fairly free and open. While there are the usual restrictions - like no extreme weapons, gunpowder, gasoline, and the like - the robots can use props, background music, and even assistants (human or otherwise). Most of the robots are typically humanoid, but the rules allow you to enter other types of robot designs.

Did I mention there are PRIZES? Some top competitors will walk away with over USD$1,000 - which I'm sure they will spend to buy more servos and other robot gear.

Related links: Robot Fashion Contest 2013

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Tears of Steel – Robot Evolution Remix (Video)

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Robert Roschler,  a good friend, fellow robot designer, and AI researcher, put together this impressive remix of "Tears of Steel". Just to be clear, the video footage and impressive animation was done by the Blender Foundation and Robert is using it in accordance with the appropriate derivative license terms and conditions. At the same time, he is the creator, author, and performer of the song "Evolution".

 Robert is one of those rare individuals that that is been able to bridge the gap between left brain right brain individuals merging his grasp of both the technical realm and the artistic. He loves creating a fusion of robotics and automation with the performing arts. In fact, that unique talent inspired him many years ago to create the RoboDance project.

That project, which was primarily self-funded by Robert himself, enabled people to create complex dance and performance sequences with computer assistance utilising low-cost robots like the Robosapien. He doesn't let artificial constraints stand in the way of creativity. In fact he sees it as a challenge to apply technology in new ways to create his visions.

Here are the reference links provided by Robert:

Remix of the amazing Tears of Steel animation video by the Blender Foundation. Video footage and some sound effects are used in accordance with the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license the video was released. This license allows content usage in both commercial and non-commercial derivative works as long as proper attribution is given. My personal thanks to the creative geniuses at the Blender Foundation for this latest open source project in a series of true gems that they have released over the years. To see the original film in its entirety please visit:

The song "Evolution" is an original work and not part of the Tears of Steel project, (c) Android Technologies, Inc. For more information visit:

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SANKYO TV Commercial Features Cute Humanoid Robot (video)

SANKYO, one of the leading Japanese suppliers of Pachinko equipment, has a new video featuring Yasuko Sawaguchi with a cute humanoid robot.

Like most Japanese television commercials it's hard to tell exactly what the connection is between the video content any actual product of trying to sell. Most Japanese television commercials are highly stylised and "good feeling – good image" in contrast to the commercials we see in the US.

The commercial doesn't show any additional information about the robot, though it appears from the design that Takahashi was probably involved somehow. It really has a close resemblance to his work.

Via: 【HD】2013/01/04 ON AIR CM (30s) No.012 SANKYO/企業CM - YouTube

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