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  • What's new in my robots pages?

    Wednesday, apr. 6th, 2005 :
    Updated the Toys page with pictures and details for a few new toys.

    Sunday, feb. 6th, 2005 :
    Updated the Fujitsu, Nec and Promet pages with pictures, text and a video.

    Wednesday, sept. 8th, 2004 : BN-1
    Added a Bandai BN-1 page to my real robots collection. Also updated the Wonderborg page a bit.

    This feature will soon be available

    Bandai BN-1 robot cat
    :: Under construction ::

    All of my 3 "real robots" (as of September 2004 when writting this) arrived from Japan in the same parcel on July. Along with an almost-first-generation AIBO came 2 obscure Bandai robots toys : the wonderborg and the BN-1 cat robot. Both were Japan-only releases, this explains why there is really few only documentation available for those products.

    As the BN-1 had been announced shortly after the AIBO, and since Bandai stated that it would include a more advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI); it would be hard not to compare this robot Cat to it's robot Dog counterpart.
    At first glance, judging on the overall design, the BN-1 does not quite compare to the Aibo, actually. The BN-1 mechanics is much simpler, and it shows : Bandai designers had to deal with quite a number of constraints; which leads to a final product that looks not quite as life-like as the Aibo does. Also, whereas Aibo emphasis it's robotic nature by imitating life, the design of the BN-1 makes it look much more like a toy.
    To be honest, most people that i've shown the Aibo to have been impressed with it; and the BN-1 did not quite draw as much attention. Some people even disliked it's design, whereas the AIBO design apparently seemed to be natural enough to them.

    On the cinematics part, the BN-1 is basically a 4 wheeled robot. Apart from the wheels, the robot also has 3 degrees of liberty : one for each "paw", and one that handle "torsion" of the body. Those 3 motors are mainly used to give the machine animation gimmicks to make it look more "alive". They can also be used in cases when the robot has fallen down and will get back on it's wheels. All of the robots movements are then just 4 wheeled motion; and the degrees of liberty are then used to move the paws as if the robot was actually walking.
    Some great effects are obtained using these basics movements, though! The robot has a "nap" mode, when it behaves just as a cat having a nap : the animated parts are then slightly animated from times to times, just like a real cat would softly move while sleeping!

    The BN-1 is equiped with numerous sensors, that i am not able to list yet, as most of the available documentation is in Japanese. It also makes good use of it, and unlike the Aibo, it will very efficiently avoid nearby obstacles. To be fair to the Aibo, the BN-1 simple design and motion system allow for smother movements and steadier self-reference when gathering proximity sensors information. Sensors are also dedicated to human interactions : the BN-1 will appreciate being pet, it will also be thankful for receiving soft touches either on the head or under the chin, and it seems to also recognize several hand gestures as well as a few sounds (?). Unfortunately, all the provided user manuals are in japanese, and i have never really checked what was available in Bandai's official BN-1 site (see link at the bottom of this page), so i really do not know much about possible BN-1 interactions.

    Videos : BN-1 moving around

    Video 1 : BN-1 approaching the camera, then turning around. Interesting to have a 360 view of the robot.

    Video 2 : moving around, overhead view.

    On the interaction side, what makes the BN-1 even more toyish is it's remote controller... Again, i'll compare it to the Aibo's : Sony provided a remote control with the first AIBO version, but in order not to confuse the Aibo with just any other remote-controlled product, people at Sony's thought of using another remote system than the usual IR beam. They finally created a sound controller, that emits different tone combination to pass commands to the AIBO, emphasing the idea that the AIBO interacts with "real life". The BN-1, on the other hand, uses a 4 buttons remote that works totally as you would expect : it emits IR beam and sends direct orders that are -most of the time- followed by direct responses from the BN-1. Anyway, the whole remote control part, either using the remote controller or -if possible- voice commands is something i have not really tested yet.

    Videos : robot cat with a robot dog
    Footages of the BN-1 together with a Sony AIBO. Although those machines are not designed to interact together, i've been able to capture a few sequences where their combined behaviors might indicate they do. Be sure they really don't, actually! In fact they will just consider each other as any other obstacle, so it's just coincidence when there seems to be interaction between the two.

    Video 1 - Video 2 - Video 3 - Video 4 -

    BN-1 Official link : : BN-1 Channel (Japanese only) from Bandai