The rules for the next ROBO-ONE Humanoid Robot competition have been released. There are no substantial changes to the rules, though the latest revision includes a new provision prohibiting the use of 'hooks'.
In other words, builders can't design robot appendages that would deliberately hook behind their opponents or get entangled in opponents wiring cables. This does not rule out the use of grippers or techniques that involve grabbing or hugging opponents.
For most builders this doesn't represent much of a problem, though it may be a challenge to some aggressive competitors. I'm not sure how the new rule will apply to robots like King Kizer that have unique arm/hand designs.
The ROBO-ONE 21 competition is scheduled for September 1st/2nd, but the venue hasn't been announced yet.
Via: ROBO-ONE 21 Rules (pdf)
Naoki Maru and Jay Jay Napalan
Maru is a key part of the Robot Japan team and the designer of ROBO-ONE champion humanoid robot King Kizer. Napaplan is a talented professional photographer, software developer, and an active member of the Aldebaran NAO Robot Developers Program.
The ROBO-ONE Light series of competitions was developed to encourage novice humanoid robot builders to participate in the ROBO-ONE initiative. In other words, the ROBO-ONE organizers wanted to attract "new blood" and revitalize the movement.
All of the robots have to be based on robot kits from a list of authorized manufacturers and models. However, many of the builders have heavily modified the hardware and software to give them a bigger competitive advantage in the ring.
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.
Of all the photos I took at the ROBO-ONE Light competition in Kawasaki last Saturday, and I took over 400+, this particular image is my hands down favorite.
That might seem a little strange, especially since there aren't any battling bots in view. There are several reasons why it speaks to me so deeply and completely. First, it shows two different generations, separated by several decades, yet sharing the same pure pleasure and concentration, connected by their love of the sport and the sense of accomplishment that comes from competing at this level.
Second, the gentleman smiling with intense pleasure behind the table is Terukazu Nishimura, the founder of the ROBO-ONE humanoid robot entertainment movement.
Over ten years ago he had a dream. That, in itself, isn't unusual. Everyone has dreams and aspirations. But Nishimura took it on himself to make his dream a reality. It didn't come easy. He had to take a lot of personal and financial risks, and he put his own personal credibility on the line as he convinced, cajoled, and encouraged everyone from major companies like Bandai and Sunrise, to smaller companies including Kondo and Futaba, plus a raft of hobbyists to get involved.
Of course it took the hard work and dedication of over a hundred volunteers and participants over the past decade to make the ROBO-ONE movement the success it is today.
Without Nishimura, without his dream, and without his unflagging focus and commitment, none of this would have happened. The lives of so many robot fans and builders, not just in Japan but all over the world, would be less enriched and a little sadder. His gift, his dream, has already blessed and inspired several generations.
So, when I see this photo, when I see the broad, happy, engrossed smile on Nishimura's face, I know, and I'm sure he knows, that it's all been worthwhile. I hope he understands the debt of gratitude and appreciation that all of us owe to him.
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.