Nippon TV is gearing up for the Real Robot Battle program, scheduled for broadcast here in Japan on Friday, December 13th starting at 7:00 pm. The humanoid robot competitors have been designed, and will be piloted by several of the top ROBO-ONE and university teams on the scene.
To generate more interest and enthusiasm, two of the life sized robots are currently displayed in Nippon TV’s 2nd floor lobby along with the championship belt. It’s hard to get a feel for the robots size from the photo. They are actually around 2 meters tall and weigh over 200 Kg (440 lbs).
As expected, but still with a thrilling performance, Yusuke Kato’s full size micromouse robot, Tetra, managed to blow away the competition in the 2013 All Japan Micromouse Expert category for classic sized designs turning in an amazing time of 7.939 seconds.
Nao Maru, the creator of the King Kizer series of ROBO-ONE champion humanoid robots, is taking the game to an entirely new level. As a part of Nippon Television “Real Robot Battle” competition, Maru put together King Kizer Z, a super sized humanoid robot that should be able to more than hold it’s own in the ring, and potentially take home the crown.
King Kizer Z stands just over 2 meters tall and tips the scales at 230 kg (506 lb.) which makes it a very formidable opponent, especially since Maru always plays to win.
Maru’s massive robot is equipped with pneumatic air cylinders in each arm and programming that enables it to throw a killer combination punch:
And, if that wasn’t enough, King Kizer Z has built-in canons capable of firing up to 12 shots per bout:
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.
George Foreman grills are nice, but what if you had a trio of robot minions available at your beck and call to fix a toasty delicious hot cheese and ham sandwich whenever you wanted? Wouldn't that be great?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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