ROBI Humaniod Robot Exhibition at Konica Minola Gallery in Shinjuku

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Tomotaka Takahashi has to be one of the most well known Japanese robot creators. His humanoid robots, featuring smooth fluid human-like movement, have all been inspired by his childhood fascination with Astroboy (known as Mighty Atom in Japan.) Unlike most children that outgrow their childhood dreams, Takahashi has made the unusual step of building his life long career following, and realising, his dream.

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During March, the Konica Minolta Gallery next to Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station featured an exhibition of Takahashi’s work, including one showroom with 100 of his ROBI robots.

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F.T., short for Female Type, was first demonstrated by Takahashi in 2008 drawing tremendous press and public attention worldwide. Unfortunately it was never commercially marketed.

 

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One of the original founders of Robot Garage at Kyoto University, Takahashi has played a key role in the evolution of RoboCup Robot Soccer competitions as well as advancing the state of humanoid robot technology.

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He pays intense attention to the finest details. Many, if not all, of his creations are literally works of art. This has caused some difficultly in bringing them to market in any significant volumes. Some of his robots were primarily demonstration pieces, while others have been sold commercially by working together with third party companies and have met with mixed success.

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ROBI has been Takahashi’s biggest commercial success, at least so far. Sold as a subscription kit in Japan, it quickly became popular with robot fans, students, and even senior citizens. Selling the complex robot kit in monthly instalments made the purchase acceptable to those that otherwise could never justify spending over US$1,500 on an entertainment/companion robot. Of course, the total cost ended up being closer to US$2,000 by the time users received the final kit parts, but their monthly incremental cost was about the same as buying a single magazine issue.

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One of Takahashi’s robots even made it into space as a part of the KIBO ROBOT PROJECT.

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Like many artists, in contrast with pure engineers, Takahashi spends a lot of time sketching out his concepts and ideas by hand as if he was drawing a Japanese manga or anime. His basic approach always starts from the organic, animated perspective. He has to compromise his designs somewhat in order to incorporate servo motors, gears, and linkages since they exist in a Cartesian/rectilinear world, but somehow he is able to avoid any significant performance degradation. The result is that all of his robots turn out to be incredibly lifelike, especially in their movement and actions.

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 Takahashi’s alliance with Panasonic, entering around the EVOLTA rechargeable battery line, has definitely been mutually beneficial resulting in miniature robots that have bicycled long distances, climbed ropes up from the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and even pulled a train car.

 

Related links: ROBI Robot Exhibition at Konica Minolta Gallery #robotsdreams
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Robot Yuenchi Announces High Performance Custom ROBO-ONE Competiton Robot Kit (Video)

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The Robot Yuenchi group organizes robot events and competitions including the popular Robot Athlete Cup series that started almost five years ago. While the primary robot type featured in their events are humanoids like the Kyosho MANOI and Kondo KHR series, they also promote other types of robots including competitions that have multi-legged bots playing Beach Flag - a variation of the Capture the Flag game we played as kids.

In order to stimulate even more interest in robotics, and with the 10th anniversary ROBO-ONE 20 competition coming up this March, Robot Yuenchi announced a new high performance humanoid robot kit that will go on sale in February.

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Robot Attempts to Win Human Dance Contest (Video)

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When human athletes try to change their bodies, muscles, or in rare cases, gender, there is a huge uproar. The officials, mass media, and quite often, the public frequently call for more stringent testing, both for chemical substances, and sometimes DNA tests. But, little things like that couldn't begin to worry Dr. GIY.

Dr. GIY has taken on all comers in the ROBO-ONE ring, has won top medals at RoboGames in San Francisco, and has become a robotics legend worldwide. He never lets anything distract him from his primary purpose. So, when the Lotte Fit's organization announced a major dance competition, Dr. GIY instantly knew that one of his robots could do the job and win the top prize. So, that's exactly what he set out to do.

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Robot Laser Tag – Thunderbolt by Yoshihiro Shibata (Video)

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Yoshihiro Shibata believes that robot and motion design is an art, and he aspires to be one of the top artists in his chosen field.

He should know. For the past few years he worked for Kondo Robot in Tokyo where he was the product manager for the KHR-2HV and KHR-3HV humanoid robots as well as the frame design for the Kyosho MANOI AT-01 robot.

His skill is very evident in the video above. Taken by a head mounted camera, the video is surprisingly stable showing how smooth and reliably the robots balance and movements are, even while playing a fast game of Blaser robot laser tag.

Shibata recently spun off on his own and is designing robots and taking on projects via his new company named LightFoot. He's also actively involved in staging robot events and is the technical director for the Robot Japan competitions.

He also did pretty well at RoboGames 2011 in California last month:

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Can Robots Replace Baseball Players? Or At Least Their Mascots? (Video)

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We stopped by Kondo RoboSpot yesterday afternoon and happened to run into Dr. GIY tuning up the Nagoya Dragons "DOARA" mascot robot. Dr. GIY, one of the earliest participants in ROBO-ONE, a frequent champion, and technical advisor in the development of the Kyosho MANOI AT-01 humanoid robots, is well known world-wide. He was kind enough to spend some time answering our questions and gave us a private demonstration of the robots talents.

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Robot Exhibition in Nagoya

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The Nagoya Tokyu Hands store, next to the JR Nagoya station, is hosting an extended robot exhibition from April 4th through April 17th. The exhibition will include robot dance performances, robot soccer, humanoid battles, and flying robot drones.

The event is open to the general public and admission is free. There will be a small charge if you want to join in any of the competitions and experience what it's like to pilot some of the robots.

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Who's the Fastest Robot? (Video)

Ever wonder what the fastest robot might be? Can an i-SOBOT outrun a Robonova? Does a MANOI have the heels of Mercury? Can a Robo-Reptile out-sprint a Bioloid? What's your best guess? Who would you put your money on?

We won't spoil all the fun by revealing the robots name, or the competition here. You're going to have to watch the race in its hilarious entirety, including all the grins, giggles, energy and totally robotic chaos to enjoy it for yourself:

Fastest humanoid robot race

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