In October 1991, Seiko Epson participated at the International Contest for Hill-Climbing Micromechanisms held by the Japanese Society of Precision Engineering, with a prototype micro-robot that garnered a great deal of attention and where its unique construction won a design prize. In 1993, Epson (a branch of Seiko) began selling the EM10A, nicknamed Monsieur (French for ‘Mister’). At the time, it held the distinction for the world’s smallest robot (Guinness Book of World Records 1994). The EMRoS (Epson Micro Robot System) was sold for approximately $500 in a limited edition of only 3000 units, but later models would follow.
Monsieur is dressed in polished sterling silver, crafted with the same care lavished on jewelry watches. The package included a guide-light, portable case with charger, and a 130-page manual featuring an inside look at the development of the EM10A, with interviews related to the project.
Monsieur measures only 3 cubic centimeters (12.4 x 11 x 10.8mm), while incorporating a total of 98 fine mechatronics parts! For example, the power source is 6.8mm in diameter and 2.1mm thick, and is a batteryless rechargeable system that lasts more than 20 times longer than a Ni-Cd battery.
It has two photodiode sensors in each eye which detect light – causing it to speed forward. This is where you can have some fun, guiding him around with the included flashlight. Monsieur can move between 1.8 and 14.7 mm/s with a climbing capacity of 12.7cm (5 inches) as he scurries towards the light. He operates for up to 5 minutes at a time on a 3 minute charge. The charging system uses his whisker-like antennae and tail, which serve as the positive and negative electrodes, but which also help to maintain balance as he moves.
- Monsieur: A Milestone Product (official page EN) (JP)
- EMRoS series history (official site JP)
- Seiko Epson (official site JP/EN)
- Epson (official site JP)
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