Murata, a Japanese company invested in electronic components, has put their technology to better use with Murata Boy – the world’s first bicycling robot. Standing 50cm tall and weighing about 5kg, Murata Boy can travel at a speed up to 2km/hour. The goal was not to go as fast as possible, but rather to maintain perfect balance at all times. Murata Boy costs about as much as a car, but he was developed for PR purposes so price was never a consideration.
Amazingly, Murata can balance on the bike moving forwards, backwards, and when remaining still (without planting his feet on the ground). He manages this feat using a gyro sensor located underneath his bicycle seat, which detects minute changes to his center of gravity. A rotating disc in his chest generates the necessary force to correct any slanting. TIME listed him in their list of Best Inventions of 2006.
Murata Boy has a camera located in his head which allows him to track his position very precisely. For example, he can steer the bicycle along a winding S-curve balance beam only 2cm wide without falling off. Using two ultrasound sensors located on his chest, he can avoid obstacles and even come to a full stop while maintaining his balance. Meanwhile, a shock sensor detects impacts to the body caused by bumps or uneveness in the road and sends signals to the control circuit.
Like the rest of us, Murata Boy originally used training wheels before mastering the technique. All of these components are built by Murata, making Murata Boy a great showpiece for their technology. Most of these technologies are applied to equipment in various fields including mobile, home electronics, and automotive industry. Murata Boy’s life goal is to ride around the world, and his motto is: “When you fall off a bicycle, get right back on!“
At CEATEC 2008, Murata Manufacturing unveiled Murata Girl along with a new controller that controlled Murata Boy’s movement. Called the Magic stick, the controller operated similar to the Wii remote using both pointer and tilt functionality to make Murata Boy move around.
- Murata Boy (official site JP)
- Murata Boy (site JP/EN/CH)
- Murata Boy papercraft (EN)
- Murata Girl (site JP/EN/CH)
- Murata (official site EN/JP/CH)
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