Creatively Demolishing Robot Misconceptions (Video)

How do you measure or compare robots? Ever think about comparing the tonnage? Or how effectively and dramatically your robots can pound the heck out of a dead coyote carcass? Or how it may make a startling impression on a youngster that will last their whole lifetime?

Survival Research Labs has a totally unique, and surprising, approach to robotics. They focus on the artistic, the dramatic, and the memorable aspects and tend to ignore traditional engineering and approaches that might stand in the way of doing what they want to accomplish. Along the way they manage to crack, fracture, and sometimes demolish common misconceptions about robots and their role in society.

From Simone at Suicidebots: "Mark Pauline, punk rock übermensch of Survival Research Labs gave a talk at the Sono­ma County Museum of Art the other day, in which he related his experiences starting up SRL,trials and tribulations along the way, and how the damn kids can’t even fix a toilet nowadays."

Mark Pauline: Grampa Shows The Whipper Snappers How It’s Done

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Robot Pioneers Documentary (Video)

All of us have seen the smashing, crashing combat robots, the kung fu fighting humanoids, the unique and sometimes crazy artbots, but what few people stop to realize is that behind everyone of of those robot creations is a dedicated, often passionate, robot builder.

Trossen Robotics, a big supporter of the robot community worldwide, definitely appreciates and values all the builders that make the sport what it is today, and what it can become tomorrow.

To share some of the background, insight, and perspective of those passionate robot builders, at least those that were lucky enough to make it to RoboGames 2010, Trossen commissioned an excellent documentary video short. We highly recommend it. If you have never had the opportunity to attend RoboGames, then the Robot Pioneers video will probably inspire you to get involved in robotics at some level, perhaps even to join us at RoboGames 2011. Even if you've participated in previous robot competitions, there's still a lot to be learned from these great robot pioneers.


Related links:

Trossen Robotics

Trossen Robotics Blog –  Robot Pioneers Documentary post

RoboGames Website

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Robot Entertainment Steps Up Promotion in Japan (Video)

RoboEnta, an offshoot of the ROBO-ONE robot movement responsible for promoting the more "pure entertainment" events, has kicked off their new YouTube channel with a video that provides an inside view at one of the most popular robot gathering spots in Akihabara.


Knowing their target audience extremely well, RoboEntra selected a trio of cute, energetic, Japanese girls to add excitement and surprise to the program: Absolutely perfect casting for their robot builder customers who are typically, but not exclusively, male in their 30's and 40's.


The video, which also doubles as a very effective commercial for Kondo Robotics and RoboSpot, features key ROBO-ONE participants like Hikima-san, the creator of Kumataro the cute bear robot and also the RoboSpot store manager:


Morinaga-san, the creator of the Metallic Fighter robot series spends some time with the girls explaining how the robots are designed and showing what they are capable of achieving. 

He does pull their leg just a bit when he says that he has only been involved for seven years, and doesn't mention his decades of experience as a champion micromouse robot builder and robot sumo player.

They, and the viewers, also get the chance to see some of the other builders explain the design process using the RoboSpot facilities.


We're definitely looking forward to the next video in the series. 

By the way, although Hikima-san hasn't actively competed in the ROBO-ONE events recently, probably preferring not to go head to head against her valued customers, her talent and creative skill is widely respected. The courses we've taken from her at RoboSpot have always been extremely useful, well organized and insightful. That's obviously a result of her own personal experience as a competitor, and her dedication to the sport.

Here she is with Kumataro at ROBO-ONE 10, almost four years ago:

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Hobby level humanoid robotics reaches a turning point (Video)

Black tiger neo
Some of the most interesting robot developments tend to go unnoticed because they aren’t startling enough, or lack the ‘bang!’ or ‘Flash!’ to capture the public’s attention. Nevertheless, their impact on the field can be significant.

We could be overstating the signficance of the case, but we believe that Black Tiger Neo’s “Thriller” performance at the 6th ROBO-ONE Gate Dance Competition is a turning point, if not a milestone, in hobby humanoid robotics.


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Compelling Wood Humanoid Robot (Video)

Yuta Sugiura, a graduate student at Keio University’s Graduate School of Media and Design, wanted to create a robot that would engage people, draw them in, and give them a compelling urge to interact. And, he wanted to design the robot to be as ecologically friendly as possible.

However, unlike other graduate students his age, Sugiura has a secret weapon. He’s been desiging humanoid robots, and competiting at the championship level in ROBO-ONE events for over five years.

You might say that he learned at the feet of the master, his father is Tomio Sugiura the creator of Dynamizer. It’s true that he did gain a lot of knowledge and experience from his father, but Yuta brings his own ideas and fresh, exciting perspectives to the robot design game. He often breaks from the established mold, and suprises everyone with his new, innovative approach.

We interviewed Yuta at length for a detailed article that will appear in an upcoming issue of Robot Magazine. Of course we have to save the details for the article, but in the meantime, here are the basic specs and a video of KITRO in action.

First the video:

  • Name: Yuta’s new robot was initially called “RETRO” since it’s overall design is similar to his ROBO-ONE champion robot with the same name. Since the new robot is over 90% wood and the Japanese word for wood is “ki”, his father suggested mashing up the two words to call the robot “KITRO”, and it seems to have stuck.
  • Height: 200 mm
  • Weight: 450 g (including batteries)
  • Frame: Wood
  • Battery: 700 mA 7.4 V
  • Screws: 40 in total
  • Fabrication method: Laser cut, glue
  • Total design, fabrication, programming & testing elapsed time: You really don’t want to know… Let’s just say it was about three transits of the Terrian sky by old Sol.

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Nakamura Rolls Out New Humanoid Robots

image1595156975.jpgNakamura, one of the top ROBO-ONE competitors, has a long line of other humanoid robot achievements under his belt.

For example, he's the creator of the transformer robot, WR-07, that totally amazed and delighted both the crowds and the judges during the demonstration phase of the ROBO-ONE competition a few years ago. The robots performance was so cool, and so totally unexpected that a YouTube video of the robot has racked up over 6,000,000 views todate.

At the same time, Nakamura created Kondo's highest performance robot controller for several years, the Motion Processor, and he was the guiding light and mentor for the creation of the popular Gogic Five robot kit. And, in his spare time, he organized the Himeji Robot Challenge competitions to inspire and motivate young (and old) robot fans in his community.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Nakamura is rolling out a new set of humanoid robot kits, Jo-Zero and STD-Zero, that are sure to set a new standard with robot fans and competitors both here and abroad.

Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts, we weren't able to be on hand for the official unveiling. However, one of top Japanese reporters we know and respect, Hideo Ishii, was able to make it and filed an extensive report including lots of great close-ups, detailed performance specifications, and video clips.
Ishii's detailed report

Ishii, by the way, isn't just a technology reporter. He is also the author of several leading books on building and modifying humanoid robots and other high tech gear, and is also a key member of the champion robot soccer team, Bamboo Bridge.

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