Summer Ice Treat Transformer Robot Announced

Just ask any child and they will tell you that "Transformers are robots in disguise", and what could be better disguise for summer than a popsicle?

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Takara Tomy just announced a new set of robot toys based on a fusion of the internationally famous Transformers line and GARI! GARI-Kun, a popular Japanese ice bar similar to a popsicle.


The new robot toys are appropriately named "GariRobo Transformers" since they morph from a popsicle shape into a robot version of GARI-GARI-Kun. While GARI-GARI-Kun might be unknown outside of Japan, he's very popular here. He was first introduced as the ice pop's mascot character in 1981 when it was put on the market by Akagi Nyugyo, an ice cream company based in Saitama prefecture. 

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GariRobo Transformers will come in two 'flavors', soda (above) and cola (below). 

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The target release date is June 30th with an expected price of 1,890 yen in Japan. No information was available regarding release of the product overseas.

This isn't the first time GARI-GARI-Kun has done joint promotions:

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Via: Takara Tomy GariRobo Transformers Website

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Micromouse Robot Developers Increase Consistently For Two Decades

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In reading through the new Introduction to Micromouse Robots for Embedded Developers article on MONOist, authored by The March Hare, I was struck by the fact that participation in the annual All Japan Micromouse Competition has increased consistently over the past two decades, to the point that there were 3 times as many competitors for the 2011 event compared to when the same event took place in 1991.

The participation chart, based in part on 2009 RoboCon magazine article data, illustrates the trend quite clearly, with the post 1990 trends plotted with Expert Class in blue, Freshman Class in red, and the total in yellow. The Half Size micromouse classification started in 2009 and is shown in light green. Keep in mind that the chart numbers only represent participants in the All Japan competition. There are quite a few regional competitions held throughout Japan from the summer through late fall leading up to the All Japan event, and only the top developers make it all the way to the national competition.

While interest in engineering and design careers waned in many First World countries over the same time period, and was severely depressed during tough economic times, it appears that the Japanese not only remained dedicated to the initiative, they actually increased in number quite dramatically.

I'm not sure what conclusions can be drawn from this trend, especially since micromouse development represents a very unique sector of robotics where participants are highly motivated to compete against themselves - to beat their own best times and improve their skills and know-how - rather than attempting to defeat each other.

Nevertheless, it's a stark contrast to what took place in robotics in other countries, like the U.S., during the same period of time.

Via: @IT MONOist

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RoboGames 2012: Mech Wars Hardcore Weapons of Mass Destruction (Video)

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Mech Wars HardCore is the only humanoid and multi-legged robot event at RoboGames where the builders are allowed to equip their robots with weapons of mass destruction, including deadly arms like rockets, flame throwers, and other life threatening tools.

This year three builders showed up, and had the guts to actually put their robots in the cage. One from the US, one from Japan, and one from Mexico. It didn't take long to see how the battle would evolve.


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King Kizer: ROBO-ONE Champion Robot headed for RoboGames (Video)

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I'm happy to announce that King Kizer, the awesome ROBO-ONE Champion robot created by Nao Maru, has signed up as part of the Robot Japan team for their 2012 U.S. Tour with an exclusive engagement at RoboGames, April 20th-22nd in San Mateo, California.

King Kizer took humanoid robot competition to a totally new level and inspired Japanese robot builders to ramp up their humanoid bots while accomplishing feats of speed, agility, and flexibility that was thought by experts to be impossible just a few years ago. As impressive as it seems, the video below can't begin to communicate how compellingly powerful, fast, and responsive King Kizer is in the ring.


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University of Tokyo – JSK Lab – Amazing NAO Robot Research Projects (Video)

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I have to admit that when I attended the University of Tokyo/Aldebaran Robotics press conference a while back I was pretty skeptical. Bringing French humanoid robots to Japan, especially introducing them into one of the leading Japanese research organizations, was a little like "carrying coals to Newcastle." What would the Japanese do with the cute NAO robots that they couldn't do with domestic humanoids?

It turns out, as you can see from the video below, I didn't have to worry. Researchers at the JSK Lab have been able to accomplish some truly amazing work, including somethings that are totally beyond my limited imagination.


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Robot Japan US Tour 2012 at RoboGames – April 20-22nd (Video)

You've seen them on YouTube, now's your chance to experience the thrills and excitement in person. The Robot Japan US Tour 2012 will be staging performances at RoboGames in San Mateo, California this April 20th, 21st, and 22nd.

The daily exhibitions are scheduled to include robot skits, dancing, and will feature Robot Pro Wrestling matches with the top Japanese robot wrestlers going head to head in the ring.


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