Himeji Softworks’ JO-ZERO is considered the “High Grade Model”, priced at 120,000 JPY ($1250 USD) excluding the batteries and charger. It was designed with three tenets in mind: it must be cool, it must be fast, and it must be humanoid. Basically, most hobby robots don’t come with an external frame (with the Manoi PF-01 being the most notable exception). So they decided to design JO-ZERO a cool exoskeleton that comes standard with the kit, and after many concept designs they landed on the working color scheme. It looks at least as cool as most of the Robo-One competitors I’ve seen in recent years.
The problem of speed is handled by Futaba RS304MD serial servos, which are used in both Futaba’s G-Robot and G-Dog hobby kits. The RS304MD’s torque is actually pretty weak at only 5kg/cm, however the servos have an outstanding operating angle of 300° which allows for highly flexible movement. They turn at a rate of 0.16s/60° which is quite fast, too. Naturally, the smaller and lighter a robot is the faster it can be, and JO-ZERO weighs only 800g without its battery – about half that of other bipedal humanoid kits. Generally speaking the JO-ZERO may not be the best for Robo-One style competitions due to its light weight and weak torque, however Himeji Softworks is planning on developing a new competition style that involves other activities, such as golf or baseball.
Finally, to achieve more realistic human motion, a robot requires more degrees of freedom than what comes standard with most hobby robot kits. The KHR-2HV, KHR-3HV, and Robovie-X come with 17 servos, while JO-ZERO comes with 20. Futaba’s G-Robot also comes with 20 servos but JO-ZERO’s arrangement is different, featuring increased flexibility in the upper body (waist and arms). Another factor that JO-ZERO and G-Robot share in common is the battery – Futaba’s PR-4S780P (Li-Po), which is known to be safe and reliable and can operate for about 20 minutes to a charge. It ups the robot’s total weight to about 860g.
The controller board can handle up to 24 servo motors, which should allow for some degree of customization, and can control individual servos to within 0.1°, which should give precise control. The controller board comes with a micro SD slot, and with cards going up to about 2GB the number of commands you could potentially store is almost infinite. It can also handle audio output (.WAV format) so users can add custom sound effects and speech to their ‘bot. Users will control their robot through standard IR receiver, so most R/C controllers should work fine.
The proprietary “JOZ Controller” software (compatible with XP) allows users to generate motions from poses using slider bars. Additionally, there is a Motion Generator software that can automatically generate different walking gaits based on inverse-kinematics, allowing you to create anything from a slow stumble to a fast trot. Normally, creating a stable walking gait can be a difficult and time-consuming process, but with the Motion Generator, they demonstrated a walking gait in about 10 minutes. Because the Motion Generator software relies on precise measurements, such as the distance between the servo motor shaft, and so on, it was a perfect fit for this kit which most users probably won’t modify.
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