It’s a new year, and Osaka-based robotics company Vstone has given its website a major overhaul. The company’s flagship robotics kits are now available internationally through their distributor Kumotek and the dependable RobotShop. Vstone was the primary backer of ex-RoboCup champions Team Osaka, but retired the team due to financial reasons after a 4 year winning streak. Even with several wins to their credit, I doubt anyone is keen on buying Team Osaka robots at $50,000 a pop, but hobbyists looking for something other than the usual Kondo and Robotis kits might want to check out their competitively priced Robovie-X biped.
The company is also going head-to-head with another Japanese firm, ZMP, in the race for the dominant research platform for next-generation electric vehicles. ZMP’s RoboCar Z was the first 1/10 scale robotic car to market, and comes with a software suite and sensors such as stereo cameras. It costs between 688,000 ~ 850,000 JPY ($8,300 ~ $10,200 USD), which seems a tad overpriced. Vstone’s Beauto EV is also a 1/10 scale robotic car, but costs only 399,000 JPY ($4,800 USD). The catch is that it comes with fewer sensors and software, and optional stuff (like adding a laser range finder) will add significantly to the price.