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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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?

120531 gari robot

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. 

120531 gari robot 2

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

120531 gari robot 3

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:

garigari starwars

Via: Takara Tomy GariRobo Transformers Website

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Micromouse Robot Developers Increase Consistently For Two Decades

micromouse robot

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)

120422 robot mech wars shibata 1

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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