Heavy Duty Truck Transformer Robot (Video)

111103 Robot Truck Transformer

It's been a while since Richard Heene has been in the news, but he's back, firing on all cylinders, and pumping what he claims to be a heavy duty truck transformer robot that features everything a truck driving craftsman could ever dream of, with the possible exception of a built-in bar, though anything is possible. Heene's promotional video (see below), which reminds me a lot of Cal Worthington in his TV commercial heyday, lays it all out for you.


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Micromouse Robot Beginners Contest – Insider Report (Video)

micromouse robot

Ever wonder what it's like for a novice micromouse robot builder to compete in Japan?

Yukimi Hayafune, an intelligent young woman with a day-job supporting the accomplished robot builders at RT Corp in Japan, wanted to try robot construction and competition for herself. After assembling and testing a Pico Classic micromouse robot, she entered three major competitions here, starting with the Chubu Area Micromouse Beginner's Contest in September. She has another major competition scheduled for October, and then plans to try her luck at the All Japan Micromouse competition held in Tsukuba towards the end of November.

Hayafune-san was kind enough to share her experiences, along with a video, in the report below.


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Master Robot Designer & Master Showman Wins Robot Japan 2 Dance Contest (Video)

dancing robot

Besides being a totally awesome humanoid robot designer, Azusa Amino is also a master showman. Well known for his Toko Toko Maru ROBO-ONE champion class robot, Amino never fails to surprise and delight audiences and robot fans with colorful and action packed robot performances specifically designed to fit in with the theme of a competition.

He consistently goes to extremes to make his robot designs, costumes, and performances as realistic as possible, even when that requires developing new techniques. Pay close attention about half way through the video below and you will immediate see what I mean. The video was captured during the Robot Japan 2 Dance competition and clearly demonstrates why Toko Toko Maru was awarded First Place.


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Fluffy FuwaFuwa Sensor Technology Opens Exciting New Possibilities (Video)

music soft sensor

Technology development today faces some serious limitations that constrains its application and successful deployment, especially in non-traditional sectors. The two biggest limitations, at least from my perspective, are battery capacity/life and sensors. While there has certainly been a lot of progress in both areas over the past two decades, the core technology and design approach hasn't really changed very much.

In order to achieve radical improvements in the way we put technology to practical use some significant breakthroughs in both areas will be critical. Along those lines, one of the most interesting and surprising "thinking out of the box" sensor developments I've run across recently is the FuwaFuwa sensor module developed as a part of the Igarashi Design Interface Project under the auspices of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) ERATO.

"FuwaFuwa" in the Japanese language is a kind of onomatopoeic word that roughly translates as light/airy/fluffy, and that's exactly what the FuwaFuwa sensor module does.


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KC Robot Builder Featured in Maker Faire Promo (Video)

boomer robot maker faire

Michael Overstreet has been a good and respected friend since the first time we hooked up several years ago at RoboGames in California. So, I hope he doesn't mind if I make some frank, and well deserved, comments.

When we first met Michael seemed like a typical robot geek, very talented with lots of expertise, but a bit shy and withdrawn. You really had to push him to get him to tell you what he thought. I'm sure he had lots of valuable and useful things to share, but they didn't flow easily.

Over the years, with experience, learning, and success, Michael has really blossomed and come out of his shell. He's become a key member of the Cowtown Computer Congress - Kansas City's leading hackerspace, a frequent exhibitor and participant in Maker Faire events all over the US, and a strong proponent of the DARwin-OP humanoid robot platform.


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Old Electronics Kit Concept Made New (Video)

arduino sensor starter kit

My personal fascination with electronics and technology started at a very early age when Santa brought a simple electronics experimenter kit one Christmas Eve. All the components were laid out on a board and each one had small wire springs for terminal contacts. The instruction book included diagrams showing how to hook up the wires to complete each circuit.

I can't remember all of the experiments exactly, but I do know there was a switch triggered burglar alarm, some light circuits, and a crystal radio, among others. The 'radio' used a rough crystal with a cat's whisker probe with no application. Luckily we were living in Southern California at the time with at least one 50,000 watt broadcast radio station that I could pick up.

I was very intrigued, and pleased, to discover Andrew Alter, a leading humanoid robot designer, Mech Warfare organizer, and RoboGames champion, explaining the Electronic Brick Starter Kit, since it shows that the same basic approach is still very much in use today.


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Mega Hobby Robot Event Coming Up

hobby robot event

It's been a long, hot, and extremely humid summer here in Japan. The weather, the economy, and the general mood has been depressed and languid to say the least. As I have mentioned before, a lot of the plans for regular robot competitions, like ROBO-ONE, had to be cancelled or postponed indefinitely after the triple disasters (earthquake, tsunami, & nuclear) that took place on March 11th.

All of that is about to change big time, and all the pent-up robot energy and enthusiasum is going to explode on the scene over the next few weeks in a frenzy of exciting competitions with a new mega robot battle double-header that promises to totally blow away all standing records.


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Unusual Humanoid Robot Turn (Video)

humanoid robot turn

Humanoid robot motion sequences are difficult to create, especially when they require moving several different degrees of freedom at the same time. More often than not, the robot will lose it's balance and go crashing over. Turns involving twisting the upper body via the limited number of servos in a humanoid robot is really tricky to do well. That's why we were a bit surprised, and impressed, by the slick turn executed by robototakuTEAM's design below.


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Humanoid Robot Stair Climbing (Video)

robot climbing stairs

In the early days of hobby humanoid robotics even simple tasks, like walking up a couple of stair steps, was a major challenge. The first robots lacked gyros for balance and used servos that weren't specifically designed for robot use. Later, as gyros became more commonplace, the top robot builders were able to accomplish climbing stairs, with varying results, but the servo power left something to be desired.

Now, with the benefit of high power servos and better, easier to use and program, some off-the-shelf humanoid kit robots, like the Kondo KHR-3HV, can conquer the task fairly easily, as Shibata-san with LIGHTFOOT Robotics demonstrated below.


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