Back in March of this year everyone was really anticipating the 19th ROBO-ONE competition, and all of the ROBO-ONE partner organizations were busy staging events that would pre-qualify the winners as seeded entries into the world's most famous humanoid robot competition. Then the northern Japan earthquake took place and everyone's plans went right out the window.
It's been just five months since that horrendous disaster, yet most areas of Japan have quickly recovered and are coming back even stronger than ever. Not only have most businesses rebounded, the robotics sector has regained its momentum also. Later this month, on August 27th, Kondo Robotics will stage a double header series of humanoid robot competitions - the 5th and 6th Kondo Robot Battles attracting top robot builders from all over Japan.
The Kondo competitions, which are limited to designs utilizing Kondo components, will take place at the Kondo RoboSpot facility in Akihabara. Player check-in will start at 11:00 am with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for 13:00. Matches will continue throughout the afternoon with the awards ceremony tentatively set for 16:30. Attendance is open to the general public and admission is free, though space will be limited so be sure to show up early if you intend to get in.
Several readers have asked about the NAO robot teams competing at RoboCup 2011, so we decided to try and put the situation in perspective, and take a look at the rulebook, which turned out to be much more complex than we had imagined.
The RoboCup Standard Platform category was originally designed to be exactly that - a "standard platform". The concept was to create a uniform playing environment where all the teams used the same robots, the same restrictions, and the same advantages. At the same time they would have a free hand to experiment and innovate with the software, AI, and algorithms in order to coax the best performance out of their robots and win the match.
It's really hard to believe that time has zipped by so fast, but never the less, the 25th KondoCup Robot Soccer competition is coming up in just under two weeks. It seems like just yesterday when we were thrilled to cover the first KondoCup Robot Soccer competition featuring our favorite humanoid robots playing a credible, and often hilarious, mini version of soccer.
The teams will be practicing at the Kondo RoboSpot facility in Akihabara this coming Sunday afternoon in preparation for the official matches scheduled for Saturday, June 18th (KHR-class) and Sunday, June 19th (Open class).
After three days of intense RoboGames 2011 action, the 3:3 robot soccer competition came down to the US vs. Japan in the match to determine who would go home with the gold medal.
The Robot Japan team takes on the Innovati team from Taiwan playing robot soccer at RoboGames 2011. Each team has three players. Halfs are 7 minutes long with a short break between the halfs for battery changes.
I realized last night while talking with some fellow robot builders that the Kondo Land Robot Competition videos so far make the obstacle course look much easier than it actually was. The hazards the robots have to conquer are far from trivial, and the fact that several of them almost made it all the way to the end is a real tribute to the design, implementation, strategy, and piloting ability of their robot designers.
Here's a look at some of the course difficulty:
You need to keep in mind that unlike ROBO-ONE, Robot Sumo, or Micromouse, the Kondo Land competitors didn't have the benefit of past experience, and none of them that we are aware of had the luxury of designing their robot from the ground up specifically for this particular course. Many of the robots were just a little too big for some of the hazards, or their feet couldn't get sufficient traction.
Of course that will change quickly. Now that they have seen and experienced the course first hand, and watched how others fared, they will be back with a vengence. At the 2nd Kondo Land Robot Competition scheduled for late January, we expect to see several new designs fined tuned to successfully navigate this unique robot challenge. Who knows, we might even see a ROBO-ONE style humanoid or two attempt it… That would be very cool.