You can tell when a grassroots movement has really caught on when big companies start to roll out their own initiatives and products following the lead of pioneers that have already broken trails into the new frontier.
That definitely seems to be the case with AutoDesk's new 123D software platform. The free Windows based software product is specifically targeted at "makers". According to the AutoDesk 123D news weblog:
"With Autodesk 123D, anyone can explore, learn and create highly precise 3D models. Makers can bring ideas to reality by combining powerful digital design with services for creating physical objects. From both within the application and through the 123D website, individuals can discover and download content to start, complete or visualize a project, and then access for-purchase personal fabrication services through Autodesk 123D partners. Makers can also purchase pre-fabricated products to explore 3D printing or assemble models from 2D laser cut materials like cardboard—the first of a variety of custom fabrication options coming soon to Autodesk123D."
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:
The older generation of Japanese humanoid robot builders all say "I want to build Gundam!" But there's a new generation on the scene, one that grew up devoted to Transformers.
They want to build more powerful, and more flexible, higher performance humanoid robots. And, they just might give their company a "Transformers" type name, like Lightfoot....
Orac has to be the luckiest, and happiest robot builder in the world, or at least in the UK.
Instead of being jealous of all the time he devotes to his robot hobby for his birthday his wife baked a beautifully designed replica of Sir Kitt, Orac's popular MANOI based humanoid robot well known for its personality, antics, and robotic wheelchair.
Here's a video of Sir Kitt in action:
Updated the Robots Dreams Robot Event Calendar highlighting upcoming events through July of this year. Most of the events are located here in Japan, but some, like RoboCup 2011 are as far afield as Istanbul. We've also included a few events that are craft/hack/design related since they often feature robots and technologies that apply directly to robot design and fabrication.
Our personal favorite is the two day Design Festa gathering at the Big Sight convention center that attracts over 100,000 people and has to be seen to be believed. Here's a look at the Spring Design Festa 2010 event to give you a feel for why we like it so much:
Last week we posted an interview segment with Matt Mets discussing the evolution of Makerbot Industries and the blossoming personal 3D printer market. Matt is a really unique and fascinating character with an infectious bubbling personality. So being the curious type, we asked him to talk about his background and what turns him on: