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Japanese hobbyists amaze with latest robot creations

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November 25, 2012

Two impressive hobby robot projects from Japan show what is possible with current consumer...

Two impressive hobby robot projects from Japan show what is possible with current consumer-level technology

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Kenji Ishida, a hobbyist known for building impressive Transformer-like robots, has shared some new videos of his project on YouTube. Likewise, a robot based on the virtual J-POP idol Hatsune Miku has surfaced that shows what is possible when you combine the current crop of hobby robot servos with hard work and dedication.

When this transforming robot first appeared on YouTube, many thought it was just a clever stop-motion animation or some sort of computer graphics trickery. In fact, Ishida has been working on his transforming "Brave Robot" since around 2002 when hobby robot servos first appeared. At first the robot's vehicle form looked more like a truck, but he has managed to slim down its profile to look like a sports car.

Ishida is now getting very close to perfecting the design, but don't go pestering Hasbro (the makers of the Transformers toys) to mass-produce it. The robot is powered by Kondo Kagaku-brand servos, which get rather costly in large numbers. The servos alone would retail for upwards of around US$2,000 dollars, which squashes the likelihood we'll see a real transforming toy – other than the somewhat silly mROBO by Tosy Toys.

You can watch Ishida's robot transform and shoot projectiles from its wrist in this video:

And in the next video you can see how the robot evolved – eventually Ishida drafted 3D blueprints to improve how all the pieces fit together, and manufactured them using a reprap-style 3D printer. You can learn more about the robot's history at his bilingual website listed below.

Hatsune Miku by Dancing Doll RZ

Another neat project comes to us from a hobbyist who has been building doll-like robots that can perform choreographed dance routines set to music. Like the Brave Robot, this Dancing Doll RZ project uses Kondo-brand servo motors and is just the latest in a long line of projects built over the past decade.

Modeled on famous digital J-POP idol Hatsune Miku, the human-like robot stands about 60 cm (24 inches) tall, which is unusually large for hobby robots, and uses Volks-brand Super Dollfie parts for its head and hands. However, in order to cover up the servo motors in the arms and legs, specialized limb covers had to be made by hand.

You may recognize Hatsune Miku, as she has appeared in Toyota adverts, countless fan-made YouTube videos, artworks, toys, video games, and has even performed "live" concerts via holographic projection. She's one of the mascots for Vocaloid software – a synthesized singing voice program developed by Crypton Future Media and Yamaha Corporation since 2003.

Sources: Brave Robotics & Dancing Doll RZ (Japanese) via YouTube

About the Author
Jason Falconer Jason is a freelance writer based in central Canada with a background in computer graphics. He has written about hundreds of humanoid robots on his website Plastic Pals and is an avid gamer with an unsightly collection of retro consoles, cartridges, and controllers.   All articles by Jason Falconer
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1 Comment

Always a pleasure reading your articles Mr. Falconer

Facebook User
24th January, 2013 @ 01:32 pm PST
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