At a time when the United States is still divided on the issue of making same sex marriage unions legal, to the point that it is likely to be a major issue during the 2016 presidential election, here in Japan robots are already tying the knot.
ROBO-ONE was originally conceived as “Humanoid Robot Entertainment” with the unstated goal of stimulating a whole generation of Japanese, and international, developers to get involved in the humanoid robot movement. Everyone knew it would be impossible to replicate the performance of Honda’s ASIMO robot on a hobbyist budget, but it would be fun to see how far they could push the envelope in that direction.
The primary ROBO-ONE competitions, ROBO-ONE and ROBO-ONE Light, are held every six months, usually in February and September. At least one set of competitions is held in Tokyo with the other set occasionally being held in an “away” location.
While the basic concept underlying the ROBO-ONE initiative is to promote humanoid robot entertainment along with education. over the years many competitors have tried to design robots that take advantage of the rule.
Everyone knows how crazy the Japanese are about humanoid robots, but it's hard to really appreciate how extreme the mania is unless you can go behind the scenes and experience it first hand. In mid-March we were lucky enough to have access to all the pit areas for the 10th bi-annual ROBO-ONE Light competition.
Keep in mind that this is just one of the many humanoid competitions that take place regularly in Japan. There are regional competitions across the nation, some colleges and universities stage regular competitions, and some robot companies like KONDO hold competitions as well. It’s hard to get a good estimate of how many people are actively involved in the sport, and learning experience, nationwide. We can only judge from the large crowds of participants and audience that turn out in force for events like this.
Moreover, each one of those robots represents an investment of typically USD$1,500 or more plus countless hours of assembly, testing, motion creation, modifications/improvements, and practice. It’s not unusual for a fan dedicated to the sport to invest USD$10,000 or more constantly evolving and improving their robot over a period of many years.
Competitors come from all walks of life, age groups, and genders. While some of the participants are professional engineers, many are students, housewives, and even truck drivers. The one thing they have in common is a passion for robotics.
The 7th Robot Japan competition will take place Sunday, January 19, 2014 at the Buddhist Hall in the Tsukiji district of Tokyo. Events will include ROBO-ONE style robot kung-fu in both the light and bantam weight categories, performance, dance, and marathon race.
The doors open at 11:00 am and typically run until around 5:00 pm with a 1 hour break for lunch. The event is open to the general public with an adult ticket price set at 1,500 yen.
Robot fans have a new mecca and excuse to make the trek to Japan. There's a new 'Robot Restaurant' in the Kabukicho district of Tokyo that will knock your socks off. Featuring giant female mechas, a light show that runs the risk of burning your eyes out, golden toilets, and what appears to be a pretty run of the mill Japanese bento lunchbox. But no one comes here for the food.
Admission, which includes the opportunity to get your photo taken riding/controlling one of the mechas, a one hour show, and the lunchbox, runs just under USD$40. Checkout the full tour in the video below.
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