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.
’Mega Hobby Robot Event Coming Up’ continues
Without exception every robot distributor that we've had the pleasure of talking to over the years has expressed a strong commitment to school education and encouraging young people to get involved with science, technology, and robotics. Most of them have special programs, educational discounts, or actively participate in school events donating their time and effort to the cause.
A good example is Michael Gruber with the RoboteShop located in Australia. There's a major School Education Expo coming up in Sydney next month, so the company decided to design a very simple, low cost hexapod robot to dramatically get the message across that robot education doesn't have to be expensive. It can be accomplished with parts and tools as basic as ice-cream sticks, a glue gun, and a few items 'borrowed' from an off the shelf kit.
I'm not connected with Woot, and I can't even order any of their daily special offers because I live outside the country and the shipping costs would be more than the cost of the time. Still, it's fun to watch what they put on offer, especially since the prices are always rock bottom.
For some strange, unknown reason, several of their recent one day sales special offers have been robots. Today their offer is a "Robokid Programmable Disk Shooting RC Robot". Looks pretty cool, at least from the small photo on the kids.woot website.
If you do happen to pick one up within the 24 hour sale period, please let me know what you think and how it performs.
Robots are typically just a tiny niche market for the big investors and high rollers on Wall Street, but a robot that might catch their attention, especially if their ego and vanity are a driving concern, is a robot treatment for baldness.
RoboGames champion Nick Donaldson seems to live, eat, sleep, and breathe robots. He consistently wins a raft of medals across a wide range of different categories during the annual robot gathering, and has designed all types of robots including LEGOs, multi-legged rescue bots, and even a few that might be difficult to categorize. Now, thanks to almost 10 years of hard work, dedication, and a little luck, it looks like one of Donaldson's cutest robot creations, a robot monkey, just might become the hottest selling robot toy in the US this Christmas.
The Hasegawa Group located at the Tokyo Institute of technology has been able to integrate artificial intelligence into a semi-humanoid robot enabling it to think, learn, and act by itself. The robot uses a self-replicating neural network to learn in much the same way as its human counterparts. It is able to extrapolate based on its past experience and knowledge combined with observation of its surrounding environment, then make educated guesses. In that sense, it learns from its mistakes, just like a child, and consistently corrects and adjusts until it can successfully perform required tasks.
’Robot Learns, Thinks, and Acts By Itself (Video)’ continues