Surprising ROBO-ONE Light Robot Design Pushes The Rules (Video)

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ROBO-ONE was originally conceived as “Humanoid Robot Entertainment” with the unstated goal of stimulating a whole generation of Japanese, and international, developers to get involved in the humanoid robot movement. Everyone knew it would be impossible to replicate the performance of Honda’s ASIMO robot on a hobbyist budget, but it would be fun to see how far they could push the envelope in that direction.

In the beginning, when the number of competitors was less than two dozen, it was easy to keep everyone on the same page, and of course there was some unstated social group pressure to conform. But, with the top prizes worth several thousand dollars, and the glory of winning the world’s top humanoid robot competition, some of the builders got creative and pushed the limited rule set a bit.

Over time, with each new unique quasi-humanoid design that popped up, the organising committee would tweet the ROBO-ONE rules to make sure that the focus on humanoids was never abandoned.

Now, more than a decade later, the vast majority of ROBO-ONE competitors follow the basic design guidelines developed by the first competitors like Koichi Yoshimura, lead designer for the Kondo KHR-1 first humanoid robot kit.

However, there are always some robot builders that see an opportunity to stretch the rules a bit. Just because a robot has to look and act like a humanoid when it enters the ring, there’s no rule that says it has to keep that shape once the referee shouts “Fight!”

No doubt there will be another revision to the rulebook before the next competition six months from now. And, also without a doubt, there will be another robot designer that will have figured out a way to take advantage of the new rules.

Related links: ROBO-ONE Light-Unique Configuration Pushes The Rules - YouTube #robotsdreams

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ROBO-ONE Light Robots Practice During Break Time (Video)

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The primary ROBO-ONE competitions, ROBO-ONE and ROBO-ONE Light, are held every six months, usually in February and September. At least one set of competitions is held in Tokyo with the other set occasionally being held in an “away” location.

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Currently, the ROBO-ONE Light event, consisting primarily of entry level robot builders using humanoid robot kit configurations typically from one of the event sponsors, is held on a Saturday. To keep the action going, and to process the large number of competitors, the round time and downs are reduced compared to the regular ROBO-ONE event.

Saturday afternoon, after the ROBO-ONE Light matches wrap up, the ROBO-ONE entrants have to compete in a 9 meter dash race with the fastest robots qualifying to return on Sunday and battle each other for the championship. It’s not unusual to have 150 or more robots attempting the dash, though there are only 48 slots available including some competitors that are already seeded by winning one of the regional competitions.

That means that on Saturday, the halls and hallways are jam packed with robot builders from both events. Whenever there’s a break in the action for more than just a few minutes, builders rush to try out their robots in the actual competition ring. Of course, they have tested their robots at home, or at local events. But the actual ring conditions can vary quite a bit.

The ring floor may be more slippery, or it may have a slight tilt, seam, or other imperfections. It’s important that they log as much time as possible under actual event conditions in order to practice and sort out unexpected problems before they go into combat.

Related links: ROBO-ONE Light 10 #robotsdreams
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ROBO-ONE Light 10 Humanoid Robot Competition Behind-the-Scenes Tour (Video)

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Everyone knows how crazy the Japanese are about humanoid robots, but it's hard to really appreciate how extreme the mania is unless you can go behind the scenes and experience it first hand. In mid-March we were lucky enough to have access to all the pit areas for the 10th bi-annual ROBO-ONE Light competition.

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Keep in mind that this is just one of the many humanoid competitions that take place regularly in Japan. There are regional competitions across the nation, some colleges and universities stage regular competitions, and some robot companies like KONDO hold competitions as well. It’s hard to get a good estimate of how many people are actively involved in the sport, and learning experience, nationwide. We can only judge from the large crowds of participants and audience that turn out in force for events like this.

Moreover, each one of those robots represents an investment of typically USD$1,500 or more plus countless hours of assembly, testing, motion creation, modifications/improvements, and practice. It’s not unusual for a fan dedicated to the sport to invest USD$10,000 or more constantly evolving and improving their robot over a period of many years.

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Competitors come from all walks of life, age groups, and genders. While some of the participants are professional engineers, many are students, housewives, and even truck drivers. The one thing they have in common is a passion for robotics.

Related links: ROBO-ONE 10 #robotsdreams

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ROBOTIS-MINI Faces Tough Opponents at ROBO-ONE Light in Japan (Video)

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Although the ROBOTIS-MINI entry level humanoid kit robot is considerably smaller and lighter than the typical ROBO-ONE competitor, it still features speed and agility that ensure that with an experienced operator it can survive in the competition ring.

At the ROBO-ONE Light event, held mid-March in Atsugi, Japan, one of the ROBOTIS-MINI robots clearly demonstrated the robots potential. Of course, in the end the laws of physics have to prevail, and as you might expect, the robot was eliminated by a stronger competitor. Nevertheless, the ROBOTIS-MINI managed to duck and weave while avoiding what might have been killer punches from its opponents.

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Think about it for a moment. Here’s a low-cost, under USD$500, humanoid robot that is Open-Source/Open-Hardware, as easy to put together as an IKEA bookshelf, Arduino compatible, targeted at STEM and robotics learners as well as researchers and hobbyists, and it turns out that almost out-of-the-box it is capable of going head to head with ROBO-ONE class humanoids. That’s pretty amazing. The ROBOTIS-MINI is making humanoid robots accessible, affordable, and exciting. You can’t beat that combination.

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ROBO-ONE Light is open to all humanoid builders at an entry level and features pre-qualified robot kits that are typically around 1 kg. in weight. Competitions are held the day before the ROBO-ONE events.

ROBOTIS-MINI was formerly marketed as the DARWIN-MINI humanoid robot kit.

Related links: ROBOTIS #robotsdreams

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ROBO-ONE “Humanoid” Robot Builder Takes to the Air in a Big Way (Video)

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Amino-san loves to push the limits in new, creative, and often funny, ways. During today's ROBO-ONE Light competition he took things to totally new heights - literally:

In the end, the judges ruled against him. It turns out that although there is no restriction against ROBO-ONE robots taking to the air, there is a rule that requires them to be able to walk. Amino-san tried to demonstrate his version of air-walking, but failed to convince the judges.


Via: 第5回 ROBO-ONE Lightでまさかの空中戦 - YouTube

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GAROO Retains ROBO-ONE Championship in the Final Match (Video)

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There have been many ROBO-ONE Champions since the well-known humanoid robot competition first started 10 years ago, but I'm sure that back in 2002 no one ever imagined that the same builder would win the title twice in a row, and that the competitor that did would be a woman.

That's exactly what happened this afternoon when GAROO, the reigning ROBO-ONE 19 champion, went head to head in the ring against Gargoyle Mini for the ROBO-ONE 20 championship, a huge trophy, and a cash prize worth approximately $12,000.


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