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Book Review: RoBolution

RoBolution-headerRoBolution is a Japanese photo book originally published in 2001, right as humanoid robots were beginning to appear in the mainstream media thanks mostly to Honda’s P2 and P3 humanoids in the late ’90s.  It focuses on 5 humanoid robots: Honda’s ASIMO, SONY’s SDR-3X, Kitano Symbiotic’s PINO, Waseda University’s WABIAN R-4, and E-sys Aoyama Gakuin University’s Mk.5.  The majority of the photos from this book cannot be found online – and the shots of the SDR-3X in particular are hard to come by in such high quality.  They even revealed the often veiled single camera in the SDR-3X’s forehead which really can’t be seen in most photos I’ve seen on the net.  Besides photos there are also orthographic schematic drawings with specs, examples of prototypes, and interviews (in Japanese).

Much to my dismay, there weren’t any photos of SONY’s original SDR prototype, nor even its rarely seen revision, the SDR-2X.  While it does have some written material covering the basics of the ZMP (zero moment point) control method (again, all in Japanese) the book is still an excellent import even if you can’t read Japanese if you can find it relatively cheap, since it has fantastic photos of the robots.  It makes a great addition to your bookshelf or coffee table, so if you’re at all a fan of art books (and robots, but that goes without saying) I would recommend you pick it up.  Unfortunately, you may find it difficult to order a copy from Japan since most booksellers on the web, including those on Amazon Japan’s marketplace, curiously don’t ship internationally.  I used the deputy service Shopping Mall Japan and scored a used copy very cheaply from Yahoo Auctions Japan, though the shipping was a bit more expensive than I’d hoped.  In my experience used books and stuff from Japan usually arrive in pristine condition.  The book is 127 pages and measures 26.4 x 20.8 x 1.8cm.


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