Citizen, the watch-making company founded in 1918, is probably best known for their Eco-Drive range of watches. The Eco-Drive watches were sold beginning in 1995 and are powered by a solar panel under the face of the watch. The history of the Eco-Be!, a tiny robot built out of watch components on a whim by one of Citizen’s engineers, is a long and interesting one beginning in 1995.
At first the Eco-Be! was nothing more than a simple toy that moved in erratic patterns based on the light hitting its solar panels. With further development and five prototypes later, the Eco-Be! became smaller and more sophisticated, and could be controlled with an IR remote.
Finally at the 2006 RoboCup games held in Bremen, Germany, the Eco-Be! was pitched by Citizen as a sub-league for robot soccer. It was approved by the directors of RoboCup, and teams from around the world compete annually using Eco-Be! robots to test artificial intelligence algorithms. A camera is set up above the soccer pitch, which tracks individual Eco-Bes on the field by their unique colored marker. The computer simulation then sends commands to the players based on a number of factors, like where the ball is.
Unfortunately, it appears as though the Eco-be! league has since been canceled, and its official website has been taken down. The educational videos are preserved after the break.
- Citizen (official site JP/EN)
- RoboCup Eco-be! League Announced (official press release JP)
- RoboCup.org (official site EN/JP)
Citizen | Impress Robot Watch