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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Using 3D Printing for Practical Designs

IPhone Lens 3D printing

Design World has an online webinar scheduled for next Tuesday, December 4th, featuring Chong Pak of Olloclip explaining how they used 3D printing technology to design and manufacture their 3-in-one lens system for the iPhone camera. According to the webinar registration webpage:

"Olloclip has created the ultimate 3-in-one lens system for your iPhone that fits in your pocket and takes your picture taking ability to the next level. Product design in the most recent years has been impacted tremendously by 3D printing and Olloclip’s camera lenses are no different. Whether it’s wide angle, fish eye or a macro picture view, this development in camera phone technology has been made possible by Objet 3D Printing. Please join Chong Pak of Olloclip and Objet Geometries as they discuss product design within the iPhone era and how 3D printing can help engineers design, create and ultimately bring products to life faster.

Attend this webinar to learn about:
-Olloclip and their fast hitting iPhone accessory
-3D printing and the design process
-Objet’s multi-platform capabilities"

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Canon Building New Robotic Factories in Japan

canon 5d mark iii

According to a report in Monday's Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Canon, the world's leader in digital cameras with a 20% marketshare, is building two automated plants in Oita Prefecture that are expected to be fully online by 2015.

The first plant, in Utsunomiya City, will fully automate the camera assembly process using robotics eliminating the need for human workers as much as possible. The second plant, in Kunisaki is expected to implement similar advances in Canon interchangeable lens production.

Canon has placed a priority on increasing efficiency and decreasing the human assembly component since 1990. Recent market and environmental changes, including the impact of the March 2010 earthquake and tsunami, difficult foreign currency exchange rates, flooding in Thailand, and the expected challenges with manufacturing in China going forward, seem to have accelerated Canon's initiative to strengthen its manufacturing base in Japan.

Moving production back from overseas factories to domestic doesn't directly correlate to job creation or transfer. Canon has been silent on the exact job impact of their new facilities, however it appears that manufacturing employees associated with Canon camera and accessory production in Oita Prefecture have decreased by half over the past three years.

Via: Nihon Keizai Shinbun

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New Gundam Front Tokyo Theme Park Opening Just Two Months Away

gundam theme park

Leveraging off of the popularity, and profitability, of the Gundam Cafe located in Akihbara, Bandai is scheduled to open the "Gundam Front Tokyo" theme park in the Odaiba shopping and entertainment district of Tokyo.

The facility, sure to quickly become a must-see mecca for Gundam fans, will feature the theme park, a Gundam Cafe, and the 18 meter tall Gundam automated statue that originally graced Tokyo Bay three years ago.

The theme park is scheduled to open to the public on April 19th.

Via: Gundam park to open in Odaiba | The Japan Times Online

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ROBO-ONE Management Reorganizes

robo-one robot

The exact implications aren't clear yet, but today the management of the popular ROBO-ONE humanoid robot movement officially announced a structural reorganization.

According to the new organization chart posted on the ROBO-ONE website, the movement's major events, including the twice annual ROBO-ONE competitions, technical conferences, Humanoid Helper Project, and others, will be organized under Tokyo International Television. This appears, from the chart, to include all the ROBO-ONE Entertainment activities.

Event management and the related technologies/hardware/software will be organized under Best Technologies. No specific mention was made of some events, like the ROBO-ONE Gran Prix series.

The management reorganization may be laying the groundwork for the next phase of ROBO-ONE. The next major competition, ROBO-ONE 20, will mark the 10 year anniversary and will be the perfect occasion to revitalize and re-energize the ground breaking movement. No date has been announced for ROBO-ONE 20, though if it follows the traditional ROBO-ONE pattern the competition will take place sometime in late March or early April.


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Toyota Showcases Healthcare Partner Robots (Video)

Toyota Patient Robot

Basic assumptions, whether explicitly defined or not, often determine the eventual success, or failure, of all research and design projects. It's all too easy for an engineer to make assumptions that don't bear out in the real world. It's also very common for corporate management to dedicate huge budgets to projects built on faulty logic.

After watching, and thinking about, some of the patient assistance robotic technology showcased yesterday by Toyota, I really have to wonder what their original design assumptions were. A good example is the Toyota Patient Transfer Assist Robot.


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Backyard Genius 2011: The Year’s 10 Best DIY Creations – Popular Mechanics

robot puppet

I'm very happy to report that our good friend and colleague  Taylor Veltrop was selected as one of the Popular Mechanics Backyard Geniuses for 2011. The selection recognizes his work with "Wireless Marionettes" - their take on his innovative fusion of the Microsoft Kinect, Willow Garage ROS operating system, Nintendo Wiimotes, and several different robot species (Kondo and Aldebaran NAO).

(Via Backyard Genius 2011: The Year's 10 Best DIY Creations - Popular Mechanics.)

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IEEE Spectrum Automation Blog Publishes Amazing Inside Fukushima Robot Report

nuclear robot

The IEEE Spectrum Automation blog just published a really amazing report that includes photos, videos, and detail blog entries from an anonymous worker responsible for operating robots at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

The original Japanese language blog posts have disappeared from the internet, though remnants still exist online thanks to Google cache. It's not clear what rights the IEEE has to translate and publish the source material, and that isn't likely to become clear in the immediate future.

Nevertheless, it is fascinating reading. There's a lot to be learned from the pages of material about conditions within the reactors, how the robots have performed, ways that they need to be improved to do their job better in the future, and of course the feelings and experiences of the human workers exposed to the extremely hazardous nuclear environment.

If you have any interest at all in rescue or surveillance robotics in real world situations, this is an absolute must read.

(Via Fukushima Robot Operator Writes Tell-All Blog - IEEE Spectrum.)

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