How Long Before Cyberdyne’s HAL Robot Suit Proves to be a Viable Business? (Video)

Cybernics research aims to enhance health and vitality through robot suits  DigInfo TV

Technically, logically, and emotionally I have always found Professor Sankai's arguments to be right on target. His vision of a future where human capability is augmented and extended through pragmatic application of robotic technology has tremendous appeal. And his view on how this could (should) be naturally developed in Japan, leveraged by obvious needs in health care and nursing, along with other areas where Japan excels, seems perfectly reasonable. Especially since it allows Japanese robot developers to approach the challenge from a position of strength and know-how.

"In America, a lot of high-tech research originates from the defense and aerospace industries. But in Japan, we'd like to make high-tech advances in the health and welfare field, which is very difficult because technology has to be applied to individuals. And in this way, we think technology from industry could be used to enhance everyday life. We feel this might be one way for Japan to show the world some unique achievements."

However, the one thing that I can't figure out is how it will actually come to fruition. Cyberdyne's technology is certainly world-class, but I have to wonder about the company's business model and long term strategy. Investors and backers have obviously pumped millions of dollars into the project, year after year. Yet no one even begins to hint that it is profitable, even on a run rate basis. 

How deep is the rabbit hole? How much longer will the company's backers continue to support the cash flow required to keep it alive and striving to catch the attention of the world? The jury is still out. Given the state of the Japanese economy over the past few years, Cyberdyne's backers run some risk of not being able to fund the company, even if they want to, since things are getting tighter and tighter here.

The other, possibly significant, risk is a competitive challenger suddenly appearing on the scene - perhaps from Korea or China. While Cyberdyne's robot suits are extremely impressive, even if they don't come in my size, very little of the technology is unique and un-reproduceable. Assuming that a viable market for the robot suits actually exists, which still needs to be proven, Cyberdyne doesn't appear to have created a strong barrier to entry against competitors.

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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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Robot Japan 5 – Photo Set

130106 Robot Japan 5-25 by Robots-Dreams
130106 Robot Japan 5-25, a photo by Robots-Dreams on Flickr.

The Robot Japan competitions get better and better each time. The 5th bi-annual event, held last Sunday in Tokyo, was the best competition yet from all aspects. The professionalism, showmanship, energy, and excitement was absolutely fantastic.

Here's my photo set of the afternoon. I'll be posting several videos of the action on the Robots Dreams YouTube channel ( also.

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ROBO-ONE Light 6 and ROBO-ONE 22 Competition Schedules Announced


The ROBO-ONE organizing committee announced that the 6th ROBO-ONE Light competition will be held Saturday, February 23, 2013 at the Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science in Tokyo.

The qualifying tests for the 22nd ROBO-ONE competition will be held the same day immediately following the ROBO-ONE Light event, with the full competition scheduled for Sunday, February 24th, 2013 at the same venue.

The events, which will be staged in the large 7th floor auditorium, are open to the public with free admission.

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Turtlebot 2 Roams the Streets of Nagoya (Video)

Turtlebot 2 robot

This is Japan, so you would think the people wouldn't be surprised to see a robot rolling around in the streets. But, somehow,  the TurtleBot-2 managed to surprise and delight quite a few customers and bystanders in the streets of Nagoya this weekend.

William Morris, the founder of Iheartengineering – a great resource for specialty tools, kits, ideas, and even custom parts – dropped in on us last week during his business trip to Korea. William was kind enough to bring along the latest turtle bot configuration and show it off.

 I'll be posting more about the turtle bot in the next day or so, including more video, some detailed photos, and a summary of Williams presentation at the Tokyo HackerSpace.

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Dr. Guero’s Amazing Tightrope Walking Robot (Video)

Tightrope Walking Robot

Remember Dr. Guero, the robot builder that stunned everyone last year with his bicycle riding Primer-V2 humanoid robot? He's back with another astonishing robot feat. This time his Primer-V4 robot is a full fledged tightrope walker!

Pretty darn amazing, especially considering that just a few short years ago many of the hobby level humanoid robot builders were lucky to keep their robots balanced and upright while walking for an extended period or boxing in the ROBO-ONE ring.

The tightrope used for this feat was a 4mm diameter cable suspended 1 meter above the floor. The technical challenges were significant and considerably different from normal humanoid robot walking. When a bipedal robot walks on the ground the standard approach is to apply gyro sensor feedback corrections primarily to the leg servos to shift the center of gravity. The arms don't play a significant role.

With tightrope walking the arms and upper body play a much more critical role in shifting the robots center of gravity to keep it balanced and avoid crashing to the floor. Dr. Guero's blog doesn't mention the use of any safety net, but I'm sure he had to catch the robot quite a few times before he got it working perfectly.

The robot's feet have a small slot for the tightrope, which is fair enough.  A human tightrope walker in the circus would cup their feet and use their toes in the same fashion.

tightrope robot

Here's Dr. Guero's bicycling robot, for those that haven't already enjoyed it:

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You Don’t Go To A Robot Restaurant For The Food! (Video)

robot restaurant

Robot fans have a new mecca and excuse to make the trek to Japan. There's a new 'Robot Restaurant' in the Kabukicho district of Tokyo that will knock your socks off. Featuring giant female mechas, a light show that runs the risk of burning your eyes out, golden toilets, and what appears to be a pretty run of the mill Japanese bento lunchbox. But no one comes here for the food.

Admission, which includes the opportunity to get your photo taken riding/controlling one of the mechas, a one hour show, and the lunchbox, runs just under USD$40. Checkout the full tour in the video below.


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BattroBorg 20 Battling Robots in Action (Video)

120609 Takara Tomy Battroborg Selected 16

It was hard to capture in words all the fun and excitement of the new BattroBorg 20 battling robots when I first posted about them last week. Now, with the Tokyo International Toy Show opening here tomorrow morning, I can share this exclusive video footage of the robots in action with you:

And here's some additional footage in Japanese via the Takara Tomy YouTube channel:

Via: Battling Robots Come Out Fighting! – New Robot Toys from Takara Tomy | Robots Dreams

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Battling Robots Come Out Fighting! – New Robot Toys from Takara Tomy

120516 Takara Tomy Battroborg robot 2

BattroBorg 20 battling robots, the latest entry in Takara Tomy’s famous Omnibot robot toy series, was announced today in Tokyo. BattroBorg is a totally new product that is sure to immediately jump to the top of the “must have” list for anyone that enjoys robots. 

While they may bring to mind comparisons with the Rock Em Sock Em fighting robots that were popular during my childhood, Takara Tomy has come up with a unique, innovative design that is absolutely impossible to resist once you pick up the controllers and join in the action.  Because your robot throws punches that instantaneously mirror your moves, playing with the BattroBorg is completely engaging and makes you feel as if you were right in the middle of the bout. The sound effects add an extra dimension of reality to the play. The experience is totally compelling and addictive.

120516 Takara Tomy Battroborg robot 3

A hit sensor incorporated into the robots helmet records each time the opponent manages to land a punch. When a match starts an LED mounted on the robots backpack is Green, indicating that it hasn’t been punched yet. As the opponent manages to hit the robots jaw, the color changes with each hit to blue, white, yellow then "warning" red. One more punch and the Knock-out buzzer sounds and the losing robot is temporarily incapacitated. The robot can then be reset by pressing and holding the helmet visor for a second.

120516 Takara Tomy Battroborg robot 1

The BattroBorg body features a unique single motor design that swings the robots upper torso back and forth in a twisting motion. Linkages cause the arms and fists to punch aggressively while a ratchet-like system in the feet results in the robot moving right and left across the combat ring. Users hold the remote control sections in each hand and operate the robot by making punching motions. It really feels like you are totally engaged in the fight yourself.

120516 Takara Tomy Battroborg robot 4

In addition to the basic fighting mode, the robot also has a sparring mode throwing random punches. Just like a typical human sparring match, the punches are slow at first then speed up as the play progresses. It starts throwing simple punches then adds combinations. There are several different games that can be played using the robots including a version of the popular kids game of Tag, Slalom, and a variety of practice routines.

120516 Takara Tomy Battroborg robot 6

There’s lots of room for personalization. Each robot’s helmet visor is removable so that operators can put a picture of their own face design or photo on the robot. The robots also have removable flags that can be decorated with team colors or stickers. The company plans to package sheets of stickers with each robot, including some that are blank so that users can add their own decoration.

120516 Takara Tomy Battroborg robot 7

The BattroBorg robot system uses 2.4 GHz wireless communication. Up to 20 robots can fight at the same time providing the opportunity for some exciting robot rumbles. The onboard battery provides up to 10 minutes of active play time, with a 20 minute recharge cycle. They come in a choice of four colors: "Star White", "Mars Red", "Earth Blue", and "Cosmic Black".

120516 Takara Tomy Battroborg robot 5

BattroBorg robots are expected to sell for ¥3,800 each. An optional double-sided fighting and practice "Hexaring" ring is priced at ¥1,000. The company is expected to offer packaged promotional sets with multiple robots later in the year. The initial release date is July 14th for the Japan and Asia markets. The company expects to make Battroborg available in Europe and the U.S. later, but wasn’t able to comment on specific dates at this time.

Related links: BattroBorg 20 - Takara Tomy (Japanese)

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