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• Chibi-Robo!

developed by Skip/published by Nintendo/2006.02.07
1 Player/1 disc/Nintendo Gamecube/Nintendo Wii (New Play Control)

Skip’s first Gamecube game, Giftpia, never made it across the Pacific despite the intense interest of curious gamers starved of RPGs.  Luckily, Chibi-Robo didn’t suffer the same fate.

Chibi-Robo plugs in to recharge
Chibi-Robo recharging

Chibi-Robo shrinks players down to the small size of its titular star, a tiny robot built only to make people happy.  Like Mr. Mosquito, Pikmin, Katamari Damacy, and The Minish Cap, Chibi-Robo places a large emphasis on exploring the world from a worm’s eye view.  The entire game takes place in and around the household of the Sanderson family.




Up Close & Personal with Evolta 2.0

Panasonic held a send-off party for Tomotaka Takahashi and his 20-odd crew that are going to attempt a new world record at the Lemans 24 hours race course in France, where the media was able to get some nice photos and video of the redesigned Evolta robot (and vehicle).

Evolta2-headersm

Evolta himself is about 17cm tall, with the vehicle about 30cm wide, 20cm high, and 20cm long and can travel at 1.3kph. Two DC motors powered by AA Evolta batteries spin the front wheels, while the passive wheel in the back causes Evolta’s legs to pedal by way of a pulley. They’re made of carbon fiber and plastic, which should be strong enough to survive the heat emanating from the race track (the circuit boards are considered relatively safe inside Evolta’s body). The race course is 4,185 m, which should provide plenty of room for Evolta’s challenge of lasting 24 hours, and should earn him another Guinness Book World Record for longest distance traveled by a remote controlled car. The race date is set for August 5th, 10am.

Apparently besides the challenges of going uphill and braking and turning while going downhill (which have been addressed in the final robot), insects come out at night which can stop Evolta in its tracks due to the small wheels. Takahashi-san even said that he had to sweep snails away during the testing phase. The biggest challenge of all is the weather, which is unpredictable compared to the batteries’ duration, he said.

Willis Russel, President of Guinness World Records Office Japan, also attended the press event. He commended Panasonic for its ambitious project, and said that if there were problems on the race course they would attempt the feat on a circular rail like the one in the photos (after the break).

[source: Impress Robot Watch]

• Topobo

Topobo-header

Topobo is a lego-like construction set with a twist: certain parts have kinetic memory.  Combining active and passive modular parts, just about anyone can construct forms that can be taught how to move.  The “actives” have motors which can record and play back how they’ve been repositioned.  Sensor modules called “backpacks” add sensor feedback and variable controls directly to the actives, which can be controlled without the need for programming: simply tune the sensor’s dial by hand to modify the speed, size, timing, and orientation of a recorded motion.  Other backpacks are equipped with sensors, such as light sensors (allowing your creation to react to varying light conditions).  The complexity of your creation can be further enhanced with “queens”, which can control many other actives by copying its own movement to them simultaneously.

Topobo was invented at MIT’s Media Lab by Hayes Raffle and Amanda Parkes.  With a little ingenuity (or trial and error), you can create walking quadrupeds, rolling snakes, and whatever else you can imagine.  Check out the videos after the break.

[source: K. Moriyama's diary]

Agricultural Machinery Repairman’s Recycled Mechanical Artworks

2009071411271118850_1

An agricultural machinery repairman and artist known by locals as “Mr.Robot”, has been busy making sculptures out of junk parts for the past decade.  He’s finally getting some critical attention, and no thanks to any formal arts education.  Some of his 140 creations, which include objects of interest, robots, dinosaurs, and animals such as penguins, will be displayed for 22 days at the Gwangju City Art Museum Children’s Gallery, South Korea.

Since 2001, the machinery repair shop has been overflowing with useless parts that not only cluttered the shop making it difficult to work, but would ultimately end up in the trash heap.  Rather than letting that happen, the talented and prolific Mr. Jubokdong (? 주복동 씨) decided he’d kill two birds with one stone, and try to fashion something useful out of them, even adding some new features in the process.  Take for example his DVD robot:

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140 sculptures in only ten years is an amazing accomplishment and they look to be highly detailed, colorful creations that seem right at home given South Korea’s stance on robots in recent years.  Hopefully more photos of his work will surface following the gallery showing.

[Source: Asian Economy News]

• Wonder Kit Remocon Chaser 2

Remocon-header

As of July 21st 2009, Kyohritsu has launched a new way to control their Wonder Kit called the Remocon (shorthand for remote control) Chaser 2.  The kit costs $30 USD and can be configured using identical parts for wheels and legs to those of the standard Wonder Kit.

The robot tracks the IR signal emitted from your tv/dvd remotes using a light sensitive photo transistor for good ol’ fashioned robot insect fun.  The robot is controlled by a PIC microcontroller and powered by four AA batteries and joins Wonder Kit’s line of accessories that include obstacle avoidance and line tracking, and the Puchi Robo series.

[source: Impress Robot Watch]

・Wonder Kit (official website JP)