Wakamaru, the mutil-function service robot developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries close to a decade ago has never seemed to gain much traction or use outside of research labs and universities. While Wakamaru is extremely cute, most observers agreed that it didn’t really address a compelling customer need, especially at it’s USD$14,000 price point.
A tweet earlier today by @rani_chocobreak seems to provide visual confirmation that Wakamaru may have reached the end of its rope. According to the tweet, there are quite a few Wakamaru robots stored in the garbage collection area at an unnamed Japanese university.
大学のゴミ捨て場に凄まじいものが捨ててあった pic.twitter.com/slCOpZzuRZ— らに (@rani_chocobreak) June 23, 2014
No specifics yet, but NTV has posted a promotional banner on their website advertising the 2014 Real Robot Battle competition. Last years event, which resulted in a 2+ hour television special, turned out to be extremely popular, and the company is hoping to repeat that success and perhaps even turn it into an annual event.
Assuming that the rules haven’t changed from 2013, anywhere from six to eight teams will field massive robots over 2 meters tall to battle it out in the ring. Each robot utilizes a wheeled mobility platform of their own design, but from the knees up the competitors are quasi-humanoid and powerful enough to inflict significant damage on each other.
This should give you an idea of how big these robots really are:
Here’s the online version of the Yomiuri Shimbun article reporting on the Japanese government strategy to boost low-cost robots - http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140615-00050113-yom-bus_all.
Basically the information is the same as we reported in the previous post, though there are a few more specifics. The article also mentions a proposed robot competition, tentatively named “Robot Olympics”, the government plans to stage in conjunction with the Tokyo Olympics and ParaOlympics in 2020. Needless to say the IOC will make them come up with a different name as it has in the past with other robot events.
Japanese robot stock prices surged in Tokyo when the market opened Monday morning boosted by a report that the Japanese government plans to actively promote the sector in conjunction with the 2020 Olympics.
Share prices of Kikuchi Seisakusho, Cyberdyne, Kawada Technologies, Harmonic Drive Systems, and Hihaisuto Seiko all responded positively when the Yomimuri Shimbun newspaper reported that the government will support the dissemination of low cost robots. The initiative appears to be focused on the manpower shortage in dealing with Japan’s ageing population, nursing care, agriculture, disaster response, infrastructure inspection, and more traditional factory automation applications.
The robot market is expected to expand from 700 billion yen in 2012 to about 2.4 trillion yen by 2020 when the Tokyo Olympics take place. More detailed information on the government’s plans to stimulate growth in the robotics market is expected to be announced later this month.
Related link: Japanese Robot Stocks Surge
Asratec, a wholly owned subsidiary of SoftBank held a press conference in Tokyo announcing V-SIDO, an innovative operating system for robots that incorporates functionality to protect the robot and humans while making development easier for robot designers. They also demonstrated the ASRA C1 reference model humanoid robot.
Dates for the 35th Annual All Japan Micromouse Robot Contest were announced by the Japanese New Technology Foundation. The contest, which includes Micromouse Half-size, Micromouse Classic, and Robotrace categories, will be held November 21st-23rd, 2014 at the Atsugi Campus of Tokyo Polytechnic University.
Contest entries will be accepted from September 1st-30th. Admission to view the contest is open to the public with no admission charge.