For the past couple of weeks we’ve been doing some site clean-up involving older posts with missing or broken videos, and we’ve still got a long way to go before everything is the way it should be. Unfortunately quite a few earlier posts had videos hosted through Gametrailers, where I began blogging about robots before this site was created. I didn’t mirror those videos onto YouTube, and they recently disappeared when Gametrailers revamped their entire website. As I was looking through some of these older posts I also noticed some other videos have gone missing too. That’s because I will often link directly to the original video rather than create a mirror, and if someone decides to take down the video the post gets broken. This general maintenance should be out of the way later this month, so we should be back to posting more regularly soon.
Iketomu, a Japanese blogger who writes Biped Robot News Japan (and is himself a hobby roboticist), has posted a fantastic video from the 21st ROBO-ONE competition. It took place at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Tokyo on September 1st and 2nd, 2012, and the following video shows 20 of the participating robots competing in a 4.5 meter (14 feet 9 inches) footrace.
The robots in order of appearance: No1: R-blue, No2: Afuro, No3: Metallic Fighter, No5: BJ ASURA, No6: Takarobo, No7: Nagare-Gold, No8: Leghorn, No9: Tokotoko-Maru, No10: Ganbatter, No11: Ryuketsu-kamen, No12: Ryuki ⅡO, No13: Zakyou-Hai, No14: Pi-co, No15: Hosenka, No16: Garoo, No17: Akakaze, No18: Ginkaji, No19: August, No20: Arutemis.
Robot and Frank generated some buzz at the Sundance Film Festival, and I’m happy to report that it wasn’t just hype. It’s a genuinely entertaining character study set in the next 50 years that manages to be both funny and surprisingly touching. And while it is a relatively small independent film you wouldn’t know it from the cast, which includes recognizable stars Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, and Liv Tyler (with Peter Sarsgaard providing the voice for the titular robot). Langella is a perfect fit for the part, and if you’re sick of the tiresome trope of the killer robot you’ll find the film’s premise totally refreshing.
As a younger man Frank was a cat burglar, and even though he’s well over the hill old habits die hard. The problem is his memory ain’t what it used to be, and with his independence quickly deteriorating his son Hunter brings him the latest in assistive robot technology.
As might be expected, Frank is none too thrilled about the prospect of a robot babysitter. The VGC-60L humanoid is about the size of a child and speaks with a neutral voice a bit like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. In appearance it looks less impressive technically than Honda’s ASIMO – boxier and rougher around the edges – more akin to the Russian humanoids Arne and Arnea.
Another week, another robot video round-up! To start off with let’s take a look at an impressive arts and crafts project: a walking paper robot! Of course, Japan has a long history of making cool things out of paper: from traditional origami to the more detailed papercraft models, but this takes things to a new level. Although it does make use of some wooden shafts and elastics for power, we’re going to let that slide.