A new Japanese TV show, “Real Robot Battle,” launches next month. Eight two-meter tall robots will duke it out in a single-elimination tournament. One of the teams entering is the Maru family, famous for its King Kizer series of robots, which have been frequent champions in Robo-One and related tournaments. Until now, we’ve had only CG renderings and a few in-progress photos of the contestants being built. But the Maru clan has come through for us with a few videos of their nearly-complete robot being put through its paces.
The robot, known as King Kizer Z, sports pneumatic cylinders in each arm that allow it to deliver a powerful punch in a short space, as demonstrated in the first video. Read more…
The 16th robot “pro wrestling” event known as Dekinnoka took place in Soka City, Japan on Sunday. This is an event that, just like real pro wrestling, puts more importance on entertaining the crown than on determining the best fighter. As you may expect from Japanese robot hobbyists, the attention to detail is impressive, right down to the theme music that plays as each contestant marches down the gangway into the ring. A dutiful referee robot starts and stops each match, and counts off how long any robot stays down.
Match 5 is particularly entertaining, in which “Wandahoo” takes a beating from a robot named GUT that’s not only twice its size, but also wielding a large sword. But in the end, Wandahoo breathes smoke and “causes” GUT to collapse, defeated. Read more…
Yesterday I reported on the new line of low-cost, open-source products Robotis is preparing to appeal to new, casual, or budget-conscious humanoid robot hobbyists. These include the OpenCM-9.04 controller, the XL-320 servo, and an easy-to-use lithium-ion battery pack. What I failed to mention was, perhaps, the flagship product of the new entry-level line: the DARWIN-mini humanoid robot.
Standing roughly half the height of the famous DARwIn-OP robot, and probably using the new XL-320 servos, the new humanoid is expected to be substantially cheaper than its full-size brethren. But how well does it move? You can judge for yourself in this video, captured this week by Lem Fugitt at RobotWorld 2013, where several DARWIN-minis get down, Gangnam style.
Robotis, well known for high-end (and pricey) servos like the MX-28, and popular mid-range offerings like the AX-12s used in its Bioloid robot kit, is now extending its product line down to the entry-level market. As reported by Lem Fugitt at Robots-Dreams, these offerings include a new low-cost controller board, a plug-and-play LiPo battery, and a new lower-cost servo.
A team of researchers at Inria and ENSTA-Paristech in France has build a new 3D-printed humanoid robot that looks a little different than most robots. Its morphology closely mimics real human form, and it has some features, like an articulated (and powered) spine, that are quite rare in humanoids this size.
The robot, dubbed “Poppy,” stands 84 cm tall and weighs 3.5 kg. It’s driven by 25 Robotis Dynamixel actuators, mostly MX-28‘s. It’s controlled by a Raspberry Pi, and uses a large number of sensors, including force-sensitive resistors, two cameras, and an IMU.
The cost of the open-source robot is about 8000 euros (about US$11,000), most of which is in the servos. That’s not too bad for a humanoid robot this size, and the team has striven to make it easy to assemble and program, so anyone can catch up and contribute.
While the robot can’t walk on its own yet, with a bit of help balancing it demonstrates a very humanlike gait. The researchers intend to continue refining and programming the robot with the goal of walking on its own. Using 3D printed structural components has allowed the team to iterate very quickly, for example, settling on the angled-in upper legs after first trying the more typical straight-leg design. Check it out in the video below.
The 23rd Robo-One biped robotics tournament was held in Tokyo earlier this month. Actually two tournaments in one, the weekend saw the 7th Robo-One Light tournament on Saturday, September 14th, and the main Robo-One (Light Class) tournament on Sunday the 15th. Yes, the nomenclature is a bit confusing, in English at least. Robo-One Light is a fairly recent tournament for beginners; only certain approved off-the-shelf robots are allowed to compete. In the main Robo-One tournament, any robots are allowed, and the vast majority of them are custom builds. However, because the increasing size (and expense) of the robots was making it harder for most hobbyists to compete, a “light class” was created for custom robots under 3 kg.
Over 100 robots (listed here — the last two numbers in each row are height in cm, and weight in kg) showed up to compete in the main tournament, which had room for only 48. So to participate in the tournament on Sunday, each bot had to first compete in a qualification event that took place on Saturday (alongside the Robo-One Light tournament). This qualification event was a 4.5-meter foot race, made even more challenging by the placement of five thin rubber strips on the path, making the terrain slightly uneven. Many robots were unable to complete the course at all. The fastest robot this year was Metallic Fighter, by Team Meta, with a time of 11.15 seconds. (The previous speed champion, Frosty, veered to the left and fell off the track this time around.)
The 48 best robots in the foot race went on to compete on Sunday. A new rule this time prohibited the side punch which had become such a mainstay of previous Robo-One battles, forcing the builders to come up with creative new moves. The full results can be found here. Two of the top three winners were high school teams; in first place was Laio by Kobe Municipal Science and Technology High School, and 3rd place went to Newtrino-Nero by Hida-Kamioka High School. In between (with 2nd place) was frequent champion Garoo, by Kumama-san.
This video shows the third-place match between Gattender and Newtrino-Nero.
Many more videos from the tournament are available at Biped Robot News Japan, though unfortunately the final match was not captured with very good quality.
About 40 robots participated in the Robo-One Light tournament on Saturday; the winner was “Dragon S.” I’m still looking for a more detailed list of participants, since it would be very interesting to see how the various commercial robots fared. Watch BotScene.net for more details as they become available.
The next tournament — Robo-One 24 and Robo-One Light 8 — is scheduled for February 15-16, 2014.