Iketomu, a Japanese blogger and robot enthusiast who maintains an English blog, has uploaded some videos from the 7th Wonderful Robot Carnival which took place on July 19th, 2009. For the uninitiated, it’s a Robo-One style tournament with several events that push the limit of the competitor’s custom-built hobby robots:
- Dash 2000 (2 meter foot race)
- Bottle Traction (moving a basket of bottles to the finish line)
- Dice Shot (1-on-1 soccer with fuzzy dice)
- Cubes (teams score points by moving cubes to their goal)
- Rumble Fight (multiple robot battle)
- 1-on-1 Fight
Doka Harumi (left) vs Sarga (right)
Kinopy (foreground) vs Kabura (back)
Many more videos including the exciting final match at:
[source: Biped Robot News Japan] and [Impress Robot Watch]
Matec Yao (Management & Technology Interchange Group Yao) is an organization formed in 2004 that gives introductory courses on electronics and robotics to everyday citizens with the goal of expanding interest in robotics and engineering in Yao, Osaka. They hold their own Robo-Con events where robot lovers get the chance to meet with other enthusiasts. In May 2009, they developed an eco-friendly robot to teach children about recycling called the Recycling & Environment Robot with the help of NAIST students.
Children can quiz the robot to determine what recycling bin a can or bottle should go in. You give the robot a recyclable, and after thinking for about 15 seconds it gives you the answer. It comes to a decision by squeezing objects placed in its hand, determining if the object is metal or plastic from the level of deformation registered by its strain gauges. It’s not always 100% right, since some plastic bottles have ribbing which makes them difficult to differentiate from aluminum cans, but the system tracks erroneous decisions to help improve the robot’s accuracy.
The late Dr. Aizawa Zirou (1903-1996), the first director of the Children’s Institute for Cultural Activities Foundation, built around 9 large humanoid robots between 1950-55 which became famous through local events, television appearances, magazines, and at Osaka’s Japan World Expo in 1970. Since then they’ve been asleep inside an old warehouse in Yubari, Hokkaido, and only recently rediscovered.
The Kanagawa Institute of Technology’s (KAIT) Department of Mechatronics is busy restoring the robots to working condition, and will be showcasing them in all their glory at Japan Robot Festival 2009 in Toyama. Following that, they will be displayed in art galleries and museums around the country as budget allows. The restoration project is attempting to use original parts where possible, though procuring working vacuum tubes and the like isn’t easy.
Amazingly, Dr. Aizawa was friends with the founder of SONY, Masaru Ibuka, and the creator of Astro Boy, Osamu Tezuka, with whom he established the Children’s Institute for Cultural Activities Foundation in 1927. Their ideal of improving the welfare of children through scientific toys led Dr. Aizawa to create 800 humanoid robot toys. He even trademarked the term “robot” in 1934 in Japan, though the term was actually invented by Karl Capek for his 1920 play Rossum’s Universal Robots, and later grew in prominence thanks to sci-fi magazines like Amazing Stories (1926) and Fritz Lang’s classic film Metropolis (1927). Images and a video of the working bots after the break.
[source: Impress Robot Watch]
Children’s Institute (official site JP)