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
> > Wednesday, September 14th, 2011 - Not quite inactive!
Also published in : Pocket computers and in the main page
Well well, what's happening here? Would that be an update, after over 1.5 year? Yes indeed, it is an update!
This would be a quick one, tho, but i wanted to tell about a few new purchases, some of which fall into my robots collection, and some others will join my pocket computers collection.
As for pocket computers, i've bought two recent machines that's i'm actually using and which match my interest in "historical" pieces of hardware. The first one is an Apple Ipad... For quite some time now, i am sorry to realize that it would be almost impossible for me now to get my hand on a first generation iPhone or first generation iPod.
It's clear today that these machines changed the handheld market *a lot*, but at the time, i couldn'nt afford one or, in the iPod's case, i was not that much excited about them.
Recently, with the iPad 2 coming to the market, i was lucky enough to catch a low-price iPad one... Seeing how the tablet market is shaping these days, no doubt this apple Device once again changed the rules. So i'm happy to have a version 1 in my collection!
Next neat purchase : i've bought an ASUS eee Note! This little machine is, litterally, a digital notebook. With it's grey-levels LCD display and his sensitive screen using a Wacom Stylus for input, this machine is very far from today's standards in tablets. But on the other hand, it's very good at what it does, that is note taking and accessory tasks (like doodling written notes over e-books...).
I've used several graphic capable senstive screen devices in the past, but this one is the closest to being my dream machine.
So these two devices will be listed in my collection starting today; and of course, i plan to create dedicated pages for each "some day"!
Then, about robots, here come two other new devices! I've hesitated before mentionning, but i think they belong to my robot collection.
The first one is, much like the eee note, a dream come true : it's a very affordable robot-arm. The second one is a toy, coming straight from the 70's in a downsized and slightly upgraded version : the Bigtrak "programmable" tank.
Although these machines are both very simple in design, they do qualify as robots, at least robot enough to feature in my collection! I hope i'll be able to update my pages soon and add these, along with a few pictures and text description.
So, if i do... then who knows? Maybe i'll post another update in less than 1,5 year!
> > Friday, Junuary 1st, 2010 - Happy new year everyone!
Also published in : Pocket computers Computers and in the main page
2009 has passed without a post from me in my site. I didn't actually pay attention to that, but discovering this feels a little sad.
So what was i up to, one might wonder? Well, a lot, actually.
First off, i've been into digital photography a lot. Graphic design has always been one of my major interest, and i had left it apart for several years, so eventually the backfire hit me really strong and i'm actually putting all of my free time into developping this "not so new" activity of mine.
"Not so new" i say... back in the late 80's and early 90's, i used to work on this kind of pictures. Today, i'm putting these new tools that are digital photography and digital editing to the same kind of use. And i find myself spending dozens of hours working on each pictures, just like i used to back then.
I would like to create new sites dedicated to these images, but i also miss time to do so.
Along with developping this activity, i've also left apart many of my other hobbies. Also, when moving away from Paris, most of my collections were packed into boxes and never left them since then.
I have not been completely idle on the collecting side, tho... I only didn't take the time to take pictures and update my site (although i'm aware of many things that ought to be, not even mentionning news updates).
In 2009, several purchases came enhance my robots toys collection. I've also passed on some other planned purchases for it, like "real" robots (motorized toys for instance) mostly because i knew i would have missed time to use/test them and they would have ended up sleeping in boxes or on shelves.
So instead of buying functionnal items just for display, i've bought no more than simple toys to display on my shelves.
As for pocket computers, no acquisition at all in 2009 for my collection... There are still a few items that i'm after, but they're either rare, or expensive. Some of these items would be a first generation iPod and a first generation iPhone, both of which are absolutely impossible to find nowadays.
Other interesting items would be an original Psion Netbook, or in my wildest dreams a Palm Foleo.
Speaking of the iPhone, i've not fallen for it yet. For several reasons, i've long kept my now 6 years old phone and was perfectly happy with it. I thought i had lost my geek mojo...
But 2009 brought interesting new products to the smartphone market, and at the end of the year, i knew which one i'd go for!
Since yesterday, i'm the proud owner of a Linux smartphone from Nokia!
It will be my primary phone for the years to come, just like some older nokia models in my collection were before, and it has all it takes to also actually be a part of my collection. This will be official when i update my pages...
Anyway, I won't make any new year resolution. I only wish i will be able to share more news and information on this site than last year. We'll see that!
And I wish you a very good year, thank you for reading this, for visiting the site, and i'm looking forward to the contacts and exchanges my site will bring this new year.
All best everyone!
> > Saturday, July 12th, 2008 - Collections still up and running... or rather quietly walking
Also published in : Pocket computers and in the main page
Hey everyone... well it's been half a year since my latest post on this site.
I must confess that i've been posting on other sites, tho, but my collections have been sleeping for all this time.
Things change those days, as i will soon add a few new items to my pocket computers collection and to my robots collection!
To begin with the robots : i'm still hoping to buy a Tomy-Takara Omnibot robot this year, which would join my "real robots" group in my robots collection. However, i still haven't bought one, so the new acquisition i'll receive in the coming weeks are just toy robots. Three of them.
Nothing actually worth mentionning at the moment, but i hope i'll be able to update my robots collection page some day soon and add them.
Continuing with pocket computers!
The EEE PC 900, from Asus, was launched recently, so the previous models can now be found at even cheaper prices than usual.
When it was first announced, i saw the EEE PC more or less as the revival of a long extinct breed : full featured keyboard enabled pocket computers running proprietary OSes, like the Sharp Iq-9200, the Psion Series 5 or such machines that were, at the time, presented as PDAs.
The EEE-PC, running a special linux version, follows the same trend; even if it's significantly larger and borrows much more from the laptop world than from PDAs.
Just like i initially bought a Sharp IQ-9200 as a PDA i would use everyday; before i stopped using it and it became part of my collection, today i've just ordered a low-cost EEE PC 701, which -i think- will have about the same kind of life!
I'm expecting to actually use it, as a notebook and as a web browser mostly.
In any case, it will ultimately join my collection, as i think it had an interesting impact on the ultra portable world and thus deserves it's place aside some pionneering machines i own.
I'm also waiting for another machine to get to me! This is a pure collectible, obscure item, and, also said to be not working; i'm very excited about it.
I first heard about it in Eiji Kako's now defunct online museum, but there was no information provided about what it was, and what it was intended for.
Today, thanks to the internet and years of patience (or, to say it honestly, i just quit searching for one many years ago!!), i've bid on one and i'm now waiting for it to take of from Japan and safely land here!
So... If i don't turn back to other hobbies until then, new updates can be expected in the weeks to come!
> > Friday, January 18th, 2008 - Happy new year *m ^_^ m*
Also published in : Pocket computers Computers Arcade games Video games and in the main page
Happy new year everyone!
The year 2008 will see will be many important events all around the world : elections in many countries, olympics in China, crucial economic evolution all over the planet, increasing technological progress reinforced with newcoming companies from emerging countries... But if i may, for today i'll just focus on two events at my own personal scale :)
First of all, i should leave Paris and move to the south of France. This is a significant change...
i still allow me a few days before i switch to "project management" mode and start getting involved in the moving. There will be a lot to do.
I also think this should not mean much of a change regarding my site. Maybe (i said *maybe*!) the change of life will leave me with enough free time to update the site more often, but i doubt it for now. Time will tell!
Now, second event : my site will "officially" turn 10 year old this year!!
It is actually a little older (since 1996 i would say), but i can't find any trace of it prior to 1998, that's why i consider it "officially" open in 1998. I may change my mind some day, tho :)
Since it was created, the site has been hosted at 3 different places, starting as a sub-section of a friend's personal site.
It had 4 different graphic designs, including a few years when every section had a completely different design each, while the current design and unified layout dates back 2003.
Wanna see what it was like since 2001? check this link Only the versions hosted at the current address are available there, and i can't find the ealier designs on any of my computers, so i think it is still somewhere on one of my old computers; i'll try and find it whenever i can.
The contents also evolved : while the first version was already a mix between my graphic work and other topics i was interested in, my collections only appeared in version 2, at first as pure HTML pages, next as PHP, yet i still don't use a database.
PHP allowed my to make the site management a little simpler, as i've also developped a few very simple tools for that purposer (like the very basic weblog function i'm using right now to type this update!).
Now there are still a lot of things i'd love to add/change/update. I have already begun working on new contents, mostly in french but i also have ideas for new contents or sections in english.
There has already been a lot of work involved since 1998 : contents management, web design, php development...
From the site, i also for a few commissionned works, as well as some new friends all around the world!
I cannot say right now what i will actually be able to work on this year...
Anyway, for this 10 year anniversary, my thanks go to everyone that visited the site, found information there, contacted me to discuss the topics i present. These are the very reason why this site exists! Thank you everyone, and a happy new year 2008!
> > Monday, December 10th, 2007 - Christmas bots
Also posted on the main page
Once again, i've waited *ages* before posting an update, despite the fact that during the time, i came across many interesting news.
Anyway, today, i'll try to catch up :
Rumour has it that Sony could revive the Aibo! Read that here with a picture of what could be the robot's new design.
The rumour says that the new Aibo would be marketted as a companion to the PlayStation systems. Maybe just what i'd need to find the PSP attractive!
Toyota presented their new robots recently in Japan. All the news in pictures in this page. I keep thinking that their design is just, well, moderately appealing, yet this presentation is quite interesting.
The i-Sobot, from Tomy-Takara was finally released in Japan last month! Available from Amazon Japan for approx 28000 yen, the little buddy is fun and appealing, but i think i'll wait for the next version, to be released in 2008, that should embed a digital camera a wireless connectivity.
Amazon Japan also has a book about the i-sobot family, which dates back to the 80's with several more or less advanced robotic toys.
I came across this video presenting a project from the Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Japan (although it was presented as american in the source where i found the link -sorry i lost that source...-). The project is about preserving balance on a humanoid platform subjected to random external forces. Interesting to watch!
I've already mentionned several small-sized humanoid plateform for the hobbyist, all of which were "cheap" as in 1000 EURO or so. There's a new one in town : the Robophilo. Available for $500, the machine is programmable and seems pretty complete. It is capable of a wide variety of movement, including walking, but browsing for videos, advanced movements (typically walking) look pretty unatural and cheap. The machine also lacks built in sensors (like a gyroscope, at least) that would make it much more interesting to program.
On the other hand, it is affordable enough to consider adding DIY sensors to the base package, i guess.
> > Monday, September 10th, 2007 - As if i was here
Also published in : Pocket computers and in the main page
It's been over 3 months of lazyness since my latest entry... i've attempted maybe a dozen times to write something, only to cancel the attempts after just 2 or 3 lines.
Today i'll take a different approach : here's a quick unsorted list of topics and facts i wanted to talk about. Maybe i'll overcome lazyness some day, and take some time to write more later.
Here we go :
One can read a lot about "pocket computers" in the news lately... Be it about the OLPC, the ASUS EEE, Palm cancelling the Foleo, or the new PDA-Like Ipod-touch from Apple... In a few forums about these new lighweight, small-sized, and mostly *cheaper* devices, i've seen several people talk about the "good'ol days" when they had a Psion/Omnigo/(You name it...).
I must confess that those new, cheap devices, if not available yet, appear full of promises. I would definitely consider buying a -$200 device with the ability to boot quickly, run for at least a normal day of use over a battery charge, surf the web over Wifi.
This was actually some of the reasons why i've bought a Nintendo DS in the first place. Now, if the machine could also offer a keyboard and (but maybe i'm asking too much) an included programming language, then it would be very close to my dream machine.
I still have a machine to add to the list, and another one waiting to arrive from Japan. Two new acquisitions this year is not much, but it's way over what i had planned : i expected zero initially ^_^
I've also read about robots in the news. No spectacular new machines, but interesting news from all over the world : Nao, the small humanoid robot was chosen to replace Aibo in the Robocup, for instance! I've seen Nao in Paris, at Aldebaran Robotics', during a focus group, the machine is quite interesting and appealing. Now that it is a reference platform for the Robocup, i think that it's future is safer; and it could also accelerate the announced consumer release...
Much closer to something i could afford, the small humanoid robot from Tomy-Takara should be released next october. I don't know if i'm still as interested in it as before, but let's face it : it has entered the Guiness book of records as the smallest humanoid robot in the world, and it will cost less than EUR300, so i guess it *has to be* in my collection some day!
I think that will be all for now! Doesn't seem much, but it's already a huge progress compared to what i did *not* post in the previous 3 months ^_^
> > Monday, May 21st, 2007 - Robots section, wake up!
Also posted on the main page
Ok, it's been roughly a year since i haven't updated my robots part.
I could say that it's because there hasn't been that many interesting news since then; but that would not be true, as i've missed many opportunities of mentionning interesting events or product announcements; but as often i was being too lazy/tired/or busy (the latter mostly ;) )
Anyway, three fun news at once are enough for me to finally update this page : pictured right from top to bottom, meet Nao, the Revoltech Type Zero and the Omnibot 2007 i-Sobot.
The NAO is the exciting soon-to-be-released humanoid robot developped by the french start-up company Aldebaran robotics. Thanks to the french robot blog Vie Artificielle ("Artificial life") i've had the opportunity of attending a customer focus-group and see the robot in action for real!
Nao is still just a prototype as of today, but it's closing commercial release, and the first production versions should be available to universities and reseach center as soon as next september.
The focus group was a great time. In order to reply to several questions regarding the robot's external and "vocal" design, we first had an interesting demonstration, as well as several presentations from some of the team members. After the focus group, a time was dedicated to meet the team and chat freely. Quite interesting, and i've loved the passion that everyone puts into the project.
I hope i'll take more time to talk about Nao in the coming months; in the meantime, i'll prepare to save some money to grab one when they'll be released!
Much more affordable, the long-waited (by me, at least!) i-Sobot from Tomy Takara (the third one in the picture) seems to be now available in Japan! I've seen it for sale on Amazon Japan and some cheaper ones also on Yahoo Auctions Japan.
For about 30000 Yen, one can now grab the "basic" version, but still no new of the higher-end "cam" version which should be released soon after. As it can be guessed, the Cam version should embed a digital camera in it's head, with Wifi capabilities.
It seems much more likely that i'll have enough savings by the end of the year to get one of those ^_^
Then, even much more affordable, last week-end i've bought a small Revoltech model (second one on the picture!) from the Patlabor Type Zero. Hehe, i've been collecting Patlabor Models for a long time now, and gathering a few toys for a few months (seems there are not that much available out there).
Now, the Revoltech lineup is a neat set of plastic full-built models, and the Robotech versions look good. So, without replacing my hand-built models (i'll still keep those!), i like to double them with a set of pre-built toys. It's now done for two of them, maybe i'll also buy a Griffon to complete the set; and i'll check if new versions are released.
Oh and to make today's entry complete, i have to mention that, during that very long period without an update, i've had the opportunity of playing with a Robonova robot for a whole week-end!
This is also thanks to Vie Artificielle and the french robots store Robopolis.
I've taken pictures, shot several videos, and i've started writting a short article about it (only in french for now), and someday, yes, *someday* i'll put my review online!
> > Wednesday, July 5th, 2006 - The shape of (robots) updates to come
The following weeks should bring several updates to my robots site : either covering "robot events" from my own personal life (more to come just below, stay tuned!); pointing to information & data sources on the web; discussing several topics i've been keeping in mind for long, or even (hopefully!) adding new content to the page.
As for robots events : i've recently received a couple of mechanized virtual pets, which i'll present while discussing the question "are these robot?". Another exciting event is due next week-end : i should be able to test a Robonova 30cm tall humanoid robot during 2 days!! I'm really looking forward to it, and i hope i'll have enough time to post a proper, well documented review here.
Data sources and information : a robot museum will open in Japan, i've just read about this and i'll look for more information. I've also discovered a robot i did not know, from the japanese company Brother : the Brother ifbot.
(Today's entry is more of a reminder for myself, actually ^_^)
Other topics i'd like to "cover" : spherical robots and exoskeletons, provided i find my content sources back, as it's been quite a long time since i've gathered them...
Then, i really should work on presenting the robots that do not have their dedicated pages yet. I'm mostly thinking of the Aibo and other Sony robots, because sadly, their story has now ended and can thus be fully covered...
I hope i'll be able to make at least some of these updates before i leave for a 2 weeks holiday on July 15th. If not, well, see you in August!
> > Thursday, June 8th, 2006 - More news, and some other news
The long waited parcel from Japan has arrived today! I say "long waited" but i have in fact requested shipping just last sunday; so it was quite fast to get here. But the items in there were available for quite some time until i finally decided to have them shipped to me. Anyway, so here's a family picture of the parcel's content!
What have we got here? On the left, a Panasonic JH-600, on the right in the nice filofax casing, a Sony PTC-500, and in the middle, presentiheng the other two, a Pino toy robot.
A few words about these items, before i (someday) write detailled page for each :
The Panasonic JH-600 is quite unique and, as a world premiere in my collection, it's not electrically autonomous. As i've discovered when opening the box, the AC cord is firmly attached to the body, and there's no battery space in the unit. All this means it has to be plugged to run; which is the only machine to run this way in the whole history of my collection!
Feature-wise, i did not exactly know what it was capable of before having it in my hands; would it be a BASIC computer, a more simple data bank, i couldn't say. The only thing i knew, and that's what makes it unique, is that is it based on voice recognition and speech synthesis!!
Opening the box, i've discovered it was a calculator, data bank and terminal, with voice control for all the features. I still have to test it, and i probably never will be able to as it certainly only "understands" japanese, but i'm still very happy i found this little guy!
The PTC-500 is not actual news to me, i already had the occasion of buying some on behalf of other persons. I just did not have my own one, so as i've come across an interesting sale, got mine as i had a chance! PTC stands for "PalmTop Computer", as written on the casing (i've read several references mentionned "PorTable Computer" instead, don't know which one is correct); the PTC-500 is apparently Sony's very first handheld device.
Then there's the Pino! As you can easily guess from the picture, this is definitely not a handheld computer! I consider it a toy until i've be able to test it's skills, but depending on what it is capable of, it might qualify to the "robot" status and join my robots collection. "Pino" was initially a japanese project aiming at developping an "open source" humanoid robot platform. Several toys were created, based on the Pino figure, and the one you see here is the latest and the most advanced of those derived product. It seems to do quite well as an autonomous humanoid machine, yet i still have to see it walk (if it is able to!) and see how it interacts with it's "users" to decide if i see it as a robot or not.
As for robots, i still miss time to update my robot pages. I'm planning an update about now discontinued Sony robots, a few entries about specific robot projects around the world... I'm not actually abandonning this section, but i'm aware it looks like it...
Now for the other news! First of all, i've updated the collection pages. The Sharp EL 9000 page, the Seiko Ruputer page and the Fossil PalmOS WristPDA page are now online with pictures.
I'm not quite done with updates, though, as there are still missing pages and i keep getting new items! Getting new items should not stop right now, too : there's still one more device i should receive from Japan; and i got word from a kind donator that some more machines should get to me before july ^ ^
Last but not least for today : a great resource for computer collectors has recently changed name, shape and everything! The Computer Collector Newsletter, formerly a monthly e-mail newsletter, is now available as a weblog by the cool name of Technology Rewind (i like the steampunk feel!).
Check it at http://www.technologyrewind.com.
> >Monday, January 9th 2006 : Happy new year!!
This is indeed my first post of the year! So it's the time to wish everyone reading this (i know you're there!) a great year!
As i wish all the best in other's lives, here's a forecast of my own year 2006. As for just now (January, and even last december for that matter), i'm turning "back" to photography. I just can't have anything else in mind since i've taken this decision, so i let it be, and i'll see where this will go. For the moment, it's quite exhausting (mentally mostly) not to be able to think of anything else. This will also mean i'll take a break from collecting; or at least, from hunting/buying new items for an undefined period of time...
Back to the forecast after the news!
Now on the news side :
On the robots front, the past weeks have seen the announcement of a new version of the Honda Asimo robot, and the delivery of the first commercially available "humanoid" robot to the few lucky ones that pre-ordered it. The Mitsubishi Wakamaru was announced for commercial release in Japan a few months ago, and was delivered as expected to the first bunch of 100 customers (i should check my sources but this should be accurate!). It's not actually humanoid, as it's running on wheels instead of legs, yet it's designed for home use, has a pair of arms, a head, and a "personnality" that make it the first 21st century domestic fantasy-come-true in robotics.
Er, i'm aware the news here is pretty much pointless as i provide no link... but i mostly wanted to mention, and i could enhance the contents soon.
On the pocket computers front, PC-World has put up a few pages dedicated to the "The 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years". This interesting study is available there. Apart from being very interesting in itself, i also mention this as they list the IBM Simon in the top 50 items of the past 50 years, and they link to my Simon page for details. Worth returning the gesture, as they've requested authorisation before linking. Great work they've done, too!
We're back to my 2006 forecast : among a whole lot of things i'd like to do in my site, i'd love to work on my "computers" part a little more. Maybe also open a larger part in french. I tend to think that the time i'd spend on my website would be working on a photography site, however... future will tell!
There's also my Japanese class i should work, and the question remains open whether i'd continue in level 4 class next year, double level 3, and/or continue engineering classes, that i had left apart this year. Anyway, i'll be interested in reading this in January 2007...
As of just now, i mostly have to financially recover from a photographic equipment buying craze, and wait (and work!) the time it will take to convince myself my pictures are worth presenting (or not!).
> > Thursday, November 24th, 2005 - So many things, so little time
Ok, well, this title is very cliché; and i don't even have "so many things" to talk about. However, talking about those few things happens late due to many *other* things keeping me busy until now.
Point is, i've received yet another parcel from Japan last monday; with stuff for everyone. For two of my collections, that is : robots (of the toy breed) and pocket computers.
On the computers front : secured a Nec PC-2001 pocket computer and a Casio CQ-1 calculator. The PC 2001 is nothing spectacular, i guess, but it's the first NEC machine in my collection. I do like NEC for having released a gaming system that was a huge hit in Japan in the 80's and early 90's (although nobody else wanted to release that product, that was initially developped by another company); and for having "pionneered" the color handheld gaming systems (Atari released a similar product at the approximate same time, but the NEC system was a handheld version of their already popular home system, which was both clever and technically brilliant).
I also like NEC for being a super-calculators manufacturer -can't get any geekier i guess-. So here it is, i like Nec the way i like Casio, but Nec just did not release lots of pocket stuff i could collect. The PC-2001 compares to the Canon's XO7 i'd say. It's approximately the same size, sports lots of interfaces, but the display only offers 2 lines instead of 4 on the XO7. I should test the machine, but then again, so little time...
The CQ-1 has a better place in handheld history, as being the first multi-featured calculator running off batteries (thus handheld, as opposed to earlier system that required a wall plug to run). This means it's a valuable step in the way to portable computers as we know them today. We're talking 1976, and the machine's casing has a very typical design that makes it worth having just for it! More information on the CQ-1 can be found on Evan's PDA History page.
Now, to the robots front! I've received in the parcel a Patlabor toy, quite big, quite cheap-looking, but cool nonetheless. As i was at it, i also got a few japanese books about the Patlabor series, where i've found lots of visual information on the series' mecha design.
There's actually more news on the robots front, as i've received a Robodog for my birthday two weeks ago! The robodog is, most obviously, Robosapien's robotic pet. Just before i've received the present, i had seen a roboraptor (a dinosaur-pet from the same family) for sale in a second-hand store, found it funny to actually see one there for the first time, and even wondered if i should get it.
A couple hours later, a brand new robodog was mine!
Pictures coming soon...
> >Monday, october 17th 2005 : Invasion of the robots from...France?
I've recently learned about a soon-to-come small-sized home humanoid robot. Interesting news is that it's developped by a french company!
According to Bruno Maisonnier, creator of Aldebaran Robotics, which develops the robot with the ENSTA, a french school of advanced technologies, we are now living a turn in robots history, the robots market is now very similar to what the micro-computers market was at the beginning. Aldebaran's robot will be the one for this new era.
The news, dated 15 september, is available, in french, here and here.
I do share Bruno Maisonnier's point of view. Give the market a few more years, and robots-geeks playing with home domestic robots will be a reality just like computer-geeks were in the 80s. A few more years is just what the little french robot needs to actually come to the market : even if a prototype should be presented before the end of this year, the robot should not go on sale until late 2007. This page (in french) states that, as of march 2005, the release was due "next summer". Obvously, it was not released last summer, and as the news has it, that should not be summer 2006 nor 2007 either.
Anyway i'm looking forward to it... First, i'd like to know what the little guy looks like, what it will be up to, and mostly, how much it will cost. As for what it will capable of : quoting Bruno Maisonnier it will be able to move around (walking, i assume), stand up, imitate human gestures. It will also be able to talk and it will have a certain level of speech recognition. Then it will also have a basic sense of vision, which will be upgradable (the article doesn't make it clear whether the upgrade would be hardware, software, or both).
One of the major features will also be the open development interface, URBI for "Universal Robotic Body Interface". This environment aims at gathering a large community of developpers, as it is open to a large number of programming languages, and it's already being used in several research projects and among a few robots enthusiasts.
So, which competition the little guy will face? One could think of the Robosapien, as a domestic companion in the first place. Of course, there's a long way to go for the Robosapien to be capable of what the french project will be capable of. But the Robosapien V2 should show up very soon, it is both more humanoid than before and also more "intelligent". Noone can say yet what the 2007 version will be capable of, but progress will definitely be made until then.
On the high-tech toy side, there are also several DIY kits out there. As long as they remain DIY kits, they won't compete our french robotic friend since it should come as a turn-key purchase. They also miss vision, although it's quite possible to load them with additional features, due to there barebone nature. Some do focus on programming, tho, as some of them come with programming software. There again, one cannot say now how this kind of product will evolve until 2007. Chances are they'll get camera-vision and processing power to match until then...
Then there's the Nuvo robot, from ZMP. Targetted for home use, this "humanoid" robot already has vision and evolved software. It is not quite humanoid yet, though, as it's "arms" are very primitive, and it is not stated as easily hackable either. There again, ZMP's plans for 2007 are unknown.
It is thus quite safe, for now, to leave the question open about which will be Aldebaran's robots competitors in 2007. Most of those above have the potential, provided they evolve until then (and why wouldn't they?!), and other companies are working on robot projects that could come to the market within the next 2 years.
Anyway, before next January, we should know more about this project. As i've said, i'm really looking forward to it.
> > Wednesday, october 5th 2005 : More DIY kits and toys will invade our homes...
Just came across yet another DIY robot kit from Japan i had never heard of : the Robonova-I from japanese manufacturer Hitec.
The announced price is 98000 YEN and as a matter of fact, the robot is/will be already available in Europe for 869 EUROs from this site. The same site will also offer a "ready to walk" version, which is still open-priced yet. From what i've read, the kit comes with an IR interface for PC communication, and with a dev kit including several programming tools, among which is a dedicated Basic language. Sounds promising!
As it can be seen on the picture, the kit is quite small. It's obviously targetted to compete Kondo and V-Stone kits, for a more affordable price. The kit includes 16 servos and an expandable computer board.
Robonova official page (in Japanese).
As i'm talking about "toy" robots, here's slightly older news from Korea : the Transbot robot is a cool little transformable RC robot toy from Yujin Robotics. Using the remote controller, the robot can be operated to walk in all directions (forward, reverse, sideways, turn) and transform into a RC car! Battle functions are also included to compete against another Transbot. Pictures and videos are available from the official page linked above.
> > Friday, September 23rd, 2005 - More humanoids robots (...i definitely have to work on titles a little more...)
I wanted to talk about non-japanese robots projects a little more, well a chinese robot project was presented just in time to help me do so. The "Huitong" humanoid robot (right) was demonstrated doing chinese "sword dance" : Taijiquan.
I've found no video of the machine, but pictures of it in action can be seen on this page at Chinanews. Huitong is 1.6 meters tall, weights 63 Kg and has 32 degrees of freedom; it is able to walk, dance, walk up and down stairs, and more generally "imitate complex human gestures". This "imitating" thing and the fact that it was demonstrated doing traditionnal chinese dance strongly reminds me of the Promet Robot that was once demonstrated doing traditionnal japanese dance. The robot was dancing a recorded choregraphy aside a human dancer, which gave the feeling that the robot was actually following the dancer's moves in real time. More information, pictures and videos can be found in this page at Plyojump, one of the greatest humanoid robots sites out there.
Our next guest (on the left) is the newly announced MANOI robot from Kyosho. This company already presented the Gunwalker walking RC toy-robot a few years back, and they now introduce a more advanced toy based on a Kondo platform. It's not very clear yet from the officiel Manoi page what the little guy will be capable of out of the box, whether it will be remote controlled, autonomous and/or programmable. What is certain, however, is that the little guy will definitely much more capable than the Gunwalker. Will this one be my first actual humanoid robot? Will a Kondo KHR-1 be? Time -and money- will tell...
> > Wednesday, September 14th, 2005 - There's a new (commercially available) robot in town
Just as i had written a few lines about commercially available robots 5 days ago, Fujitsu announces that they are taking orders for the ENON robot. The robot, which rolls on wheels but has a more humanoid upper part, is an evolution of an earlier platform.
Fujitsu had announced as early as september 04 that the platform would be commercially available in 2005, well one year later, it actually is, in a slightly refined shape.
This is one more page i should update in my site, as i did not even mention that earlier version back then.
ENON is quite reminiscent of the Mitsubishi Wakamaru, that Mitsubishi also put on sale a few days ago : a robot on wheel, with 2 arms, a head and communication abilities. The ENON also has a focus on transporting object, as a dedicated compartment in it's torso allows for transporting up to 10kg objects that the robot will be able to deliver to an indicated location.
Even if ENON hits the market at the same time as Wakamaru and bears many a resemblance with it, it comes at the much higher pricetag of $54,000 (as compared to $14000 for the Wakamaru...). ENON is actually aimed at the corporate market rather than the domestic market (Wakamaru was presented as a house-sitting robot and personal assistant), and as stated in Fujitsu's page, the voice recognition only works in Japanese.
Fujitsu ENON page in english : http://www.fujitsu.com/global/news/pr/archives/month/2005/20050913-01.html
The news on Yahoo
The news on Engadget
> > Friday, September 9th, 2005 - More commercialy available robots
A few weeks ago, Mitsubishi announced that their Wakamaru robot would go on sale within the end of this month. Now, that's where i realize i've never mentionned Wakamaru in this site before, not even planned a dedicated page for it yet. That's mostly because i did not think of it as a "humanoid" robot in the first place because it lacks legs. As my site's focus has evolved and also includes not-so-humanoids robots, i definitely should put more information about Wakamaru online some day.
So well, the little yellow buddy (picture : top one on the right) will go on sale, or at least 100 units of it as announced by Mitsubishi, for the price of US$14,300 each. For this price, you'll get a robot that is able to recognize up to 10 people based on face recognition, knows 10 000 words, performs house-sitting, baby-sitting and secretary tasks, and mostly, will look cool in any geek interior.
So, well,despite it's lack of legs, Wakamaru is the closest-to-humanoid autonomous consumer robot to go on sale yet. However, the market for humanoid robots is beginning to take shape. It's not quite a crowdy place yet, but depending on how the pionneers will do, it might be within a couple of years...
More news about humanoids robots going on sale come from Kawada industries. I've set up a simple and very incomplete page about their earliest and impressive HRP-2 "Promet" here, well now the HRP-3 (second one on the right) is announced for the industrial market in 2006. The machine is designed to work even under a heavy rain, walk on slippy surfaces, and can be either remote-controlled or programmed. The HRP-3 is not the first robot to go on sale to corporate buyers : the Fujitsu HOAP robots were available as robotic research platforms for a few years, and Honda Asimo was available rental. What makes the HRP-3 different is that it seems clearly marketted to handle actual work in industrial environments. I will be very curious to see who will be the first buyers and what they'll do with the robots (other than corporate image refining campaigns, that is).
More on the toyish side : Volks, a japanese manufacturer that is famous for it's very detailled (and quite expensive) action figures and resin characters kits; has announced the Robofie VS-1 kit (pictured left). For approximately 1300 EUROs, once fully built (comes as a DIY kit), this small remote-controlled buddy (approx 40 cm high) will be able to walk, run, climb stairs and execute several movements. A video is available in this page.
Looks cool and all, but among the specs i've noticed "magnetic soles"... pretty reminiscent of some of the Robo Garage robots such as the Kyosho Gunwalker (there's a picture of it all the way down my robots toys collection page). The Gunwalker will only walk on metallic magnetic surfaces, and as far as i can see, so will the Robofie. That's a bit disappointing, since the robot is announced for a price of approximately USD 1300. For just a little more money, i'd rather go with a Kondo or V-Stone kit robot that will walk on any flat surface (see July 24th update below).
As i hope i'll be able to update my site more regularly with my new, hand-crafted publishing tool, i'm already planning new entries in the robots section. First i think i'll open to non-japanese robot projects a little more. Coming-up next : spherical robots, then exoskeletons. Both topics will present non-japanese research projects. I'll also gather information about non-japanese humanoid robots for future entries.
> > Tuesday, August 30th 2005 : weblog app ready!
It's been a long time since i've updated my site. One of the reasons was that i was building a small PHP tool to handle all HTML updating. There are many tools out there that i could have used to enable instant weblog features in my site, but i did want something very specific. Mostly, i didn't want to use a database, and i also wanted to keep my HTML pages and not spend time adapting my pages to a templating tool needs.
The first version of this small app is now ready, so hopefully i should be able to update my site more often. Using this application, i'll also gather all the updates from my different sections in my home page.
There's still lots to do on the PHP application, though. As of today, the main application is able to create new entries and edit existing entries. I've also developped basis for an online links manager, aiming both at gathering my bookmarks all in a single, online space, and at generating links pages automatically.
Then again, i'll have to improve HTML handling in the editing tool, add image management functions, work on an unified user interface...
Anyway, should this entry publish alright on the different topics i'll send it to, then it would be a great first step!
It will also be a good thing done before taking a week off on holiday! :)
[Edit] Well, turned out that there was some fixing needed. Work is done, beta testing is done, so now i think i have something stable enough! I'll focus on updating AND continue improving this application when i'm back from holidays.
>> Sunday, July 24th 2005 update - Small is beautiful!
Maybe i've neglected small-zised humanoid robots for too long. I used to think human-sized robots project were the most advanced in robotics research, well not only was i being very unfair to Sony's Q-Rio, but i was also missing a very important point.
Smaller robots are most likely the ones that will enter our homes first, way before the human-sized ones, both in time and in number. The Q-Rio is a very advanced research project, which is not planned for commercial release yet. Maybe this one will not be the leader of the small-robots domestic invasion.
Small robots, however, have many advantages : they're cheaper to build, they require less storage and developpement space, and they require less power to run. This is why lots of university projects and competitions, like the robo-one competition in Japan, feature those smaller robots.
Some of those robots are now available to the individual, not as full-functionnal domestic robots like the Q-rio could be, but as DIY kits for the robotics enthusiast. Of the 4 robots pictured right, the 3 upper ones are commercialy available. From top to bottom, they are the V-Stone Robovie M and Robovie MS, and the Kondo KHR-1. Links to the manufacturers' sites are provided at the end of this entry.
The 4 robots illustrate another tendancy in robots research. Created in 3 months by Almir Heralic as a university project in Sweden, the HR-2 can walk, talk, has image and voice recognition... It seems that most of it's intelligence is not embedded but rather handled by an external PC and it might also depend on an external power source to run, yet this 3 month achievment is quite impressive. It clearly demonstrates how small robots can leverage research in robotics by allowing more new projects to appear and more research teams to involve in advanced robotics with limited funds.
Another research platform recently announced is the Fujitsu HOAP-3 (not pictured). Also a small robot, the HOAP-3 is the evolution of the HOAP-1 and 2, and offers more on-board intelligence, in the shape of a Linux programmable computer whereas the previous platforms resembles more the kit robots that are now commercialy available form other manufacturers. The HOAP platform is aimed at research laboratory and universities, and is thus quite overpriced for the average robotics hobbyist.
A few more news, not on the R&D side, i've received an e-mail a few months ago about a robot-inspired artist. Unfortunately, i must have lost that e-mail so i can't post anything more about him, as i don't remember much. But i'll keep an eye open for more robot related art projects and i'll post my discoveries here.
Next, i also wanted to mention the excellent Robots-Japan website! This is a site about robots toys, featuring a gigantic collection, and some neat ideas, like the great "Doesn't play well with others" photo-comics.
Robots mentionned in this entry :
Official V-Stone website, home of the Robovie robots, some of which are commercialy available as DIY kits.
Officila Kondo website, home the KHR-2 kit.
Almir Heralic's page on the Humanoid Robot HR-2 project at the Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
Official HOAP-3 page on the Fujitsu automation website.
More small-size humanoid robots :
Speecys, makers of the Speecy FC, Fuel-Cell powered robot.
BL Autotec develop robotics components, and also work on their own small robots projects :
BeInOne-3, and the cute "Tin-robot" Robotch (i want one of these!).
>> Wednesday, April 20th 2005 update - One more cat-bot and a real-life mecha
Just received another BN-1 yesterday! It took an interesting chain of event for me to engage into acquiring it... First i got contact from another french person inquiring about how to get a BN-1, so we discussed a little over the mail about it. Just at the same time, i noticed in my website's logs some forum thread that linked to my BN-1 page. Browsing this thread, someone there was mentionning an ongoing eBay auction for a BN-1! So i checked the auction, and at the time, the description was not only for one, but for TWO BN-1s, including one with a damaged paw. So i immediatly told my mail-pal about the auction, and ask him to tell me whether he was interested in buying it alone, or in making a deal together, or if he was just not interested in it. There was approximately 1 week before the auction ended, and i never got a reply. So i've placed a bid as late as i could before leaving for the week-end. Coming back after the week-end, turned out the guy had bid without outbidding my offer... Thus i won the robot!
Counterparts are : the auction was finally for just one robot; as the second one had been given away during the auction. Then again, i was contacted by another guy, who was the one that actually bought the other (damaged) BN-1 from the seller! I was a little deceived about not being able to acquire that damaged robot... I had plans for it! Plans included attempting to repair it, then trying to paint it pink (or build pink outfits for it!) and see how it could do as an Aibo toy!
Anyway, telling this story was a great idea, as it's just now that i think i can make pink outfits for the BN-1! I was only thinking about painting it, which was a bit radical... Brainstorming has it's good side!
So well, I now own two BN-1 and i've been able to test them together! Amazing how Bandai has implemented the interactions between the robots! I certainly still have a lot to discover, but from what i've seen until now, there's something very cleverly designed in the way robots are communicating (a very specific eye pattern apparently indicates ongoing communication) then interacting. Here's one example : after seing that specific eye pattern indicating somekind of syncinc is going on, i see one of the robot gives a paw, i grab the paw making the robot very happy, then the other one gets jealous and gives a paw as well!
Along with the new BN-1 i also got the original box, and a small english manual that will be most useful to learn lots of things that i still don't know about the machine.
Apart from the BN-1, i also received a few toys from Japan, and yet a couple of other ones are on their way! Amazing to see that, although i was thinking i would take a little rest from collecting, i came accross many opportunities, or they hit me, or whatever, the thing is i'm still accumulating both robots and pocket computing devices! Sweet anyway...
One last robot news for today : i've been hesitating for a long time before posting it; but here it is. Why hesitate? Well mostly because it's about a real-life giant-mecha prototype with guns... granted, these are soft-air guns, but still... So sad to see this prototype clearly attempting to convince it would do a great job as a weapon. Next thing is, although it has two legs, it's feet are mounted on wheels and it pretty much sliding one foot forward after another rather than actually walking. Even if it really looks as if the company that funded this development is actually trying to make itself a name in actual robot-weapons; at second thought i think of it more as something that can be compared to many personal projects (mostly in the USA) aiming at creating a real-sized giant robot "for fun". Only this one project benefits from corporate fundings. What will become of it, i prefer not even knowing if it's future involves actual guns mounted on it and battelfield testings. As of today anyway, there would still be a long way to go : despite being named "land walker", i cannot think of it slid-walking on anything else that plain flat concrete. Equiped with soft-air guns, i prefer seing this robot as designed for amusement parks.
Anyway, here is a link to the official page in the manufacturers website. The company's apparent major activity seems to be dairy equipment machinery; but apparently, their activity also grew into robotics since the early 90's; that's robotics as in domestic robotics, and, well, obviously, military robotics. So maybe they *are* actually aiming the Land Walker at tomorrow's battlefields. Surely the day where this will happen i'll stop watching SF giant mecha the same way. Sigh...
>> Wednesday, April 6th 2005 update - Toys page update and older news
Ok this is not about japanese robots, and it's not even that new : finnish company Plustech is developping a forest machine that walks on legs! On the right is a picture of an early test platform and just below is a view of the actuall machine. Give me money and i buy of these and an Enryu T-52 just to see what can come from breeding them...
Here is the official Walking Machine page on the Plustech site. There you'll find high-res pictures, videos, and much more details about the machine.
Apart from being a cool robot-geek dream come true, the machine seems to demonstrate a real-life use, as several pictures make it obvious how such a walking mechanism can prove useful in a forest environnement as compared to a wheeled machine. Videos, on the other hand, do not make it as clear, since the machine moves pretty slowly; yet there are two things to keep in mind : it also part of it's objectif to preserve the forest, so slower is safer; plus it's the first of it's kind so it's the best of it's kind and there's definitely plenty of room for improvements.
On my own website front, i've added a few pictures to my robots toys collection, among which is a Kyosho gunwalker picture. I think i'll add a dedicated page for it someday, but it definitely has it's place in the toys page rather than in the real robots page.
Then i've received a very interesting e-mail today about the Tekkaman show. I'll then be able to add information on my tekkaman page soon!
>> Tuesday, March 17th 2005 update - Toy acquisition and Nec news
Two quick news, as i expect to make a larger update within a few days about those : first, i've bought a Kyosho Gunwalker, next, i've read that Nec has presented a new version of the Papero robot.
About the Gunwalker (upper one on the picture), here's a few information before a complete dedicated page : as i was suspecting, the robot is designed to walk only on a magnetallic surface. Based on the "Magna-Traction" technology developped at the Robo Garage, the robot includes electro-magnets in it's soles to stick to the ground, and thus must walk on a metallic surface in order not to fall down when lifting a foot.
Based only on those specs, the gunwalker would not really be any more interesting than a Tomy Z-knight (right) that is already able to achieve a simple bipedal walk. One major difference is that the gunWalker can turn! Whereas both walks are based on similar simple motion (which can be reversed on the gunwalker to walk backward), the gunwalker adds something like a "hips flexion" that allows it to take turns one stride at a time.
I will sure create a specific page for the device someday, i first have to decide whether i should think of it as a robot or as a toy! Hm now that i think of it, there's definitely not enough embedded processing power and environnement-response in the machine to call it a robot... It will have it's place in the toys area.
The next news is that Nec has presented a 2005 version of the Papero robot, that is to be presented in the Aichi 2005 exhibition in Japan. I actually have few information about what's new either on the hardware or on the software site, but from what i've read here and there, the Papero is now most specifically aimed at taking care of children, which is no breaking news considering it's toyish and cute design. However, Nec did not make this clear until now, and previously presented the robot as a multi-purpose family robot.
>> Sunday, February 6th 2005 update - A real update, at long last!
Cleaning up my HDs a bit, i've found several picture and robot-related material i though would have been nice to add to the site! I've thus updated the Fujitsu robots page, the Nec robots page and the HRP Promet page. This is an important step in the completion of my robots part, as now only 2 pages are still waiting for contents : the Sony page and the Kitano page. I should also add more pages, like the Toyota page i've mentionned earlier, but still i'm feeling glad after getting back into adding contents to this page.
More news on the robots side : looking for information while working on my page, i've discovered this very interesting page; PLYOJUMP that presents a very complete coverage of the ongoing developments in robotics. Whereas my site focuses on japanese robots, this site is open to robotics projects from all over the world, is much more up to date and hold lots of informations and links. By many ways, it's the site i've ever wanted to build! Be sure to have a look at it.
From the Plyojump page, i've also discovered many great pages, like the Robo Garage at Kyoto University.
The Robo Garage also offered me a way to link to another topic i wanted to talk about : biped robot toys! Well, of course, nowadays a "biped robot toy" would translate "Robosapīens" in many minds, but i must say i'm not that interested in this toy, actually. Although it certainly the toy having the most advanced robotic arms system, it's bipedal walk is quite poor when compared to most biped robot platforms out there. So the toys i wanted to present here may be more ancient, but i find them much more impressive.
So, ladies and gentlemen, pictured here on the right, i give you from top to bottom :
Bandai's TECHROID MS-06 ZAKU II
Takara's DreamForce 01
All are remote-controlled biped robots. The Bandai one is the earliest as well as the most impressive. It boasts a digital camera in it's head that transmit iłages in real time to a color screen in the remote control pannel! Unfortunately, the product seems to be discontinued. At a $1300 price tag, it's not like i was about to buy one just when they decided to stop distributing it anyway... still, newer models in the Techroid family do not stand any close to this cool ones; as this one is the only walking one.
I'd be interested in buying the Kyosho robot, though, since it comes at a much cheaper pricetag of approx USD 70, but there's a little something that bothers me. All the pages mention a "Magna Traction system" based on electro-magnet build in the robot's feet. Do this mean the machine has to evolve on a magnetic area in order to walk without falling down? I'm both curious and anxious to know. I hope it's not so anyway...
>> Monday, january 31st 2005 update - Details and links
Last week's update was a bit short, although it was actually pretty long, but it was short on details, that is!
As last week's update was definitely lacking references, today's update will be mostly about proving those references.
I've learned about the Uncanny Vally Theory from an e-mail from the person that wrote this page and sent me an e-mail about it. The name of the Japanese roboticist that created the Uncanny Valley Theory is mentionned in the page : Masahiro Mori. His name, along with a few links, more references to the theory and an interesting analysis are presented in the above page. Here is a Wikipedia entry about Masahiro Mori. Google will also provide interesting links when asked about the Uncanny Valley Thoery and Masahiro Mori.
The Bandai R&D project aiming at creating a full featured Doraemon robot is named "Real Dream Doraemon Project" and has the year 2010 as a target year. Here is link to a Bandai product that is obviously Doraemon-project-driven. Nothing really impressive to me, as it is a static machine, but well, it is still a step in the full-featured Doraemon direction
Here is another page about it (japanese), and here is Bandai robot laboratory official site.
Next, as i've compared Bandai BN-7 to the Nec PaPeRo, here is a link to the Nec Papero's official website.
>> Saturday, january 29th 2005 update - Miscellaneous notes
Some say that it's only when you're about to lose something that you realize how precious they are. Well, in my own pathetic way, i've just understood the true meaning of this, as i've believed for a few days that my Bandai BN-1 was out of order due to a voltage error when attempting to charge it. Luckily, it turned out that just the AC adaptor died, thus protecting the robotic cat at the cost of it's own life.
So i realized how lucky i was to own one of these BN-1s, and making a search on google for information about it (i'm never fed up with information!) i also realized that it was the first (as the "1" number suggests!!) of a larger BN family from bandai. I've found more info about a BN-7 and a BN-8 models; so i will certainly post a page here, someday, about the Bandai lineup. Speaking of which, it's no actual lineup really, since only the BN-1 was distributed and the other BNs so far were just exhibition models. References i've found about the BN-7 indicate it was presented at Robodex 2002. Not exactly fresh news...
Above is a picture of the BN-7. Definitely reminds me of one of the Bubble Bobble video game character :)
So well i'll certainly create a Bandai robots page some day to present those projects. As for now, judging on the few information i have about eh BN-7, it sounds quite similar to the Nec Papero robot : rolling on wheels, featuring voice and face recognition along with a mobile head and a reminiscent general shape. The major and most obvious difference would be the articulated arms on the BN-7.
Bandai is engaged in a R&D program aiming at creating a full featured Doraemon-like robot by nthe year 20XX. Huh i knew that year, just forget right now as i have to mention it.
There are a few things i've been wanting to add to this page for months : the Uncanny valley theory and the new Aibo software. The former is a theory i've just very recently heard of. I should mention the site i've got that from; but i'd have to find it back before. This theory is not quite new, and was invented by a japanese robotician that worked on human social acceptance of robots. Too bad i've also forgot his name; this entry is definitely useless...
So the Uncanny valley theory is about the fact that humanoid robots can be sorted into 3 majors categories : at the bottom of the ladder, there are the not-so-humanoid robots that make it clear they are robots. At the top will be the robots that are so perfectly humanoid that they can be socially accepted as high-hand robots. The uncanny theory defines the middle class of machines : robots that try to look that humans, but they'd try either too much or not much; and end up being neither friendly looking robots nor perfectly humanoid machines, making them look very disturbing to actual humans. Definitely worth studying, and google will provide lots of information about the theory. I should also post a more detailled column about this. Anyway, this is no fresh news either.
Finally i wanted to mention the new Aibo software (i'd say it's quite simply labelled Aibo Life 2) that will make Aibo "understand" when it is lift in the arms and have it loosen it's paws motions so that it can be easily held.
to say the truth, one of the things that really disappointed me when i first got my Aibo was exactly this : the robot is supposed to have acceleration sensors, paws sensors and all that; it is supposed to interact with humans and to react when pet.... but take in your hand and you'll soon realise that it won't stop moving and you just cannot hold it in your arms. so well, i'm quite surprised it too so long and so many versions for the software to finally adapt and take this into account.
>> Wednesday, september 8th 2004 update - Toy-robots golden age! (+ BN-1 page added)
I was so excited about the latest news in the robot business lately that i had almost totally forgotten there had already been a "personal robot" craze in the early 80's. I was a teenager at the time, and my dreams were full of those weird machines. They were presented as "personal robots" and they were marketted almost exactly as the missing-link between high-tech toys and high-end futuristic domestic appliance. They seemed to be directly inspired by Star War's D2-R2 design, and as such, they were far from imitating life, as the Sony Aibo does, but, for most of them, they embedded pretty advanced electronics, programming possibilities and a very appealing fun factor!
At the time, a robot with just one robotic arm was best you could expect, as most robots did not even have any. Moving on wheels was the standard.
This era suddently came back to my mind as as i've found the RobotGallery website. Within the site, i've found a pretty comprensive gallery of the various models that were introduced at the time : check it here. Interesting to bring back memories to those of us who already had an interest in robots at the time, also interesting to newbies to discover what domestic robots looked like before the Aibo came up!
Aside to this news, i've updated my robot part a bit : added a Bandai BN-1 page and added a few videos to the Bandai Wonderborg page.
>> Friday, july 23rd 2004 update - New robotic family members!
In a huge parcel coming from Japan yesterday, i've received my own Sony AIBO! I've bought this second-hand ERS-110 directly from Japan, on Yahoo! Auctions, through the excellent rinkya service website.
In the same parcel, i've also received a Bandai Wonderborg (left)! Those two machines officially open my new "real robots" collection! Although the wonderborg does not feature any actual artificial intelligence, it actually is a robotic platform with a 6 legs motion and multi-sensors driven interactions.
The AIBO, on the other hand, should not be of any mystery to anyone who reached this page! I've chosen an ERS-111 since it's the original AIBO design. Right after Sony released the ERS-110 on the internet, they presented a newer version, with the only difference that the tail was shorter and thus less fragile. As the design of the machine has received a world design award, as the machine is exposed in the New York Museum of Modern Art, and as this design is the work of the japanese illustrator Hajime Sorayama, i am specially interested in these models in the first place!
With this two new acquisitions, i should then enhance my robots part by adding a "my real robots collection" page. Those two should soon be joined by a cat-robot, the BN-1 from Bandai, which i've recently won, but which has not shipped from Japan yet. I'll try and put ressources about the Wonderborg and BN-1 once i'll have the time to play with them (and to build the pages, that is!)
I've also receive two cool Patlabor 3D books, which are basically artbook made from Patlabor models pictures Hobby Japan style. Great ressources that should make for a few more patlabor pictures on this site soon.
Anyway, i'm quite happy i've finally bought my very first very real robot! Definitely worth an update in this page!
>> Tuesday, july 6th 2004 update - Toyota no robotto!
Browsing my bookmark for sites i had not visited for a long time, i found back this very interesting site, which presents lots of japanese technology news, including lots of robot focused news. I've discovered that Toyota entered the humanoid robots business by presenting several robots on March 11th. The official toyota page (in japanese) is here, more pictures and videos can be found in this page. Pictured right is the two-legged version of their robot, playing the trumpet. I think this robot's design is rather scary... Overall, i think it looks like an alien with a weird head and a weird space helmet, and some of the machine's movements; as seen in a video, look rather un-natural. But that's just me anyway. What's more important to notice is that, after Honda and the very famous Asimo series, Toyota also present their own robot developments, and i must confess they are quite convincing. As an example, even if the arms movements may look strange when walking, it is amazing to see what the machines is capable of when playing the trumpet. Not only the arms, but the whole body will then move in a very life-like manner. What Toyota presented is thus much more than a proof a concept. However, i think it's important to notice that Toyota apparently does not communicate on a brand name for these development yet, which might give a clue that more is soon to come from these.
Toyota actually presented four different machines, all of which were more or less related to each other. Closely related together are the two-legged robot here and it's smaller brother, based on a Segway-like two-wheeled platform. Hehe, when i've first heard about the Segway, i thought it would make for a perfect robot platform someday, and... march 11th was the day! :) Next is a "wheelchair on legs"; thus not a wheelchair, actually, so maybe i should call it a legchair?! Finally, a smaller two-legged robot was presented. I still have to understand what this model is, as compared to the other two-legged one.
Anyway, i guess i'll have to update my site and include a Toyota part quite soon!
On the update side, i should also be able to add a completely new sub-part in my robots section soon! I won't be more specific right now, as i'm waiting for a few confirmation to arrive, but i should bring new additions to my collections quite soon. Should even be a brand new collection part actually!
And as i'm at it : i've mentionned the red 1/50 Queadluun-Rau posable figure earlier on this page. Well, checking HLJ site today, i've discovered there's another version to be released in July! As you can see from the picture on the left, it's not the green version yet, and i must say it's not even a color i had ever seen the Queadluun Rau in, actually, but i do prefer this version to the red one. The color really emphasis the alien feeling of the beast! I'll keep an eye open for this baby, and well, this may just be yet another addition to my collection making it's entry this summer (unless the green version is announced until then, that is!). For more pictures of the "1/60 Queadluun-Rau MAX Color" on HLJ, follow this link.
>> Saturday, may 22nd 2004 update - Toys robots in the construction business
I've been looking for a construction type Patlabor model for years, really. I actually think i'll never find one, but who knows? Internet has proven me wrong many times about a few pieces i thought i'd never be able to add to my pocket computers collection. Well, shopping the comics and japanese stores the other day, i came accross this fun 3 inches little yellow guy here!
Ok then, this is not at all a Patlabor mecha. What i know about it is not quite consistant, but here it is : it is an adapted, peace-time version of the "SAFS" mecha created by artist Kow Yokoyama in his "Maschinen Krieger" series. What is "Maschinene Krieger" exactly, well, i can't tell. I've read stuff about it here and there, and it seems that what we now as "Maschinen Krieger" today was originally initiated in the early 80's under the name "SF3D" as the original work of Kow Yokoyama in the pages of the "Hobby Japan" magazine.
"Maschienen Krieger" storyline takes place during an alternate WW-II where robots would have replaced tanks. In the early 90's, i remember having seen SF3D models in a few stores, they were strange realistic models with german names like "Fledermaus" and i did not really know what to think about those, except that i enjoyed the overall design work. A few years later, quite recently, actually, i discovered Yokoyama's work on the web. The artist's website is here and one of this M.K dedicated pages can be seen here
Anyway, wandering the shop the other day, i first met these weird adaptations of one of the MK mecha, then raising my head at the upper shelf level, i saw the "Working SAFS" series, among which i found a construction type robot, just like i've been looking for! Now, there are other cool variations of it; all of which have a specific color sheme and a specific arm. Pretty interesting little toys. They come from Pooyan Toys, which i did not know before, and i think it's refreshing robots news!
>> Saturday, may 8th 2004 update - Robotech rebirth
It's been quite a while since i have not bought robot stuff, neither books nor toys or models... Anyway this could change soon, as i've just discovered this neat Queadluun Rau poseable action figure at Hobby Link Japan. The Queadluun Rau has always been one of my favorite mechas ever, for many reasons : it's a Robotech mecha, it has a very distinctive and "alien" design, and it's a female battle pod! Remember that the Zentraedii alien race in Robotech is supposed to be divided into male and female societies that rarely meet. The Queadluun Rau original color is green (as you can seen on the bottom of this page), which i prefer since it boosts the alien feeling of the machine's design. Anyway, would it not be for the seeling price of over USD 100, i would definitely go with the red version anyway.
Now, that's "kidult" marketting! An expensive, highly detailled toy, from a show that only people in their 30s will have memory of... Yup, i'm right in the target, and the product definitely hits it!
Would it not be for the price of it, i would have already sent an order for it, and i'd have also ordered this great Guyver III figure that is way more affordable, but considering the shipping cost, i'm not gonna buy the Guyver alone. Hmm well, let's say i'll keep an eye on those anyway!
Now that i'm back into updating this page, i think i'll write a few lines about a few great bandai robot toys some day.
>> Tuesday, march 9th 2004 update - a 500,000 yen toy
I've discovered a few days ago from this site (in french) that there's a new humanoid robot in town. Planned for release by the end of 2004, the toy is named "NUVO" (which is taken from the french word "nouveau" meaning "new"!) and it's official site is here. Apparently, this robot is from the same family than the Morph and Pino robots : the ERATO program from Kitano Symbiotics. I must confess that i completely the exact whereabouts as for what is ERATO, what is Kitano, and what are those projects intended for? From what i've understood, those projects are mostly research projects (Pino and Morph being both aimed at providing research platforms for robotics and AI). The NUVO is apparently aimed at a commercial release, but it's features are still quite obscure to me, so i call it a toy!
On my website front, i've added today the first draft of the Honda robots page. As of today, it's focused on Asimo, but i am going to add information and pictures about the P-2 and P-3 some day.
>> Friday, february 13th 2004 update - is this for real?
It's been a while since i've had the idea of changing my sub-sections homepages into dedicated weblogs, and today, i finally engage the process by changing the Robots homepage!
Ok, so, i've updated this part today; this part is now open to real japanese robots, as they are more and more present both in R&D and on retailers shelves in Japan. Science-fiction had announced the robots era starting 2000; and it seems that Japan is engaged in a restless effort to make this come true by the end of the decade...
So, i've dedicated a few pages in my site to these projects that are slowly beginning to take japanese robots from SF mangas to real life. As of today, i've only put 2 pages on line : pages about Banryu and Sanyo and the TmSuk company. I'm planning more pages, which i've already put in the navigation bar but are not yet available.
On the robot front, i've attended several presentations at the Japanese Cultural Center in Paris during the previous months, and i've been able to see the Fujitsu Hoap-II, the Honda Asimo, and the Sony Aibo and Qrio in action. I've missed the presentations of the Nec Papero and the Pino, and i'm quite sad about it. The Papero, in particular, even if far from humanoid, seems to be a very interesting device as for it's embedded AI.
Anyway, i'll be able to present a few informations i've gathered there on the site.
While preparing the TmSuk page, i was amazed how much i had lost sight of japanese projects evolution within a few months! Hey, TmSuk has launched what could be considered as the first "giant" mecha out there (basically a bulldozer with 2 arms, by the look of it, really, but hey it was born out of very advanced robotics!)
I tend to think the activity around robotics currently looks like what was computer science in the 60's and 70's. Boosted by the internet and ever increasing innovation rate, i'm expecting to see an equivalent of the 1980's computer scene in the robot business soon. Just think that in the 1980's, nobody was actually prepared to think computers would ever become as popular and common as they are today. At the time, they were either unaffordable professional monster machinery or geek toys. Think of what robots are today...got the picture?