Japanese Robots: The Week in Japanese Robot Videos (TripleBackFlip Bot, Denso, and Kirobo)
1. A gymnast robot celebrates Tokyo’s successful 2020 Olympic bid with a triple backflip off the bar, and back onto the bar!
2. Industrial robots play with racecars!
3. A monolingual mini-humanoid speaks the first robotic words from the International Space Station.
Three J-robots in under 4 minutes!
00:38 of Robo Acrobatics:
Starting off, we’ve got a follow-up from YouTube user 'hinamitetu,' the same account behind July’s immensely popular quadruple-backflip-stick-the-landing robot. This time around some props are directed at Tokyo securing the 2020 Olympic games, and another landing is totally nailed - and it’s equally impressive. Nobody really knows much about the roboticist toiling away in what looks like mom’s cluttered basement or garage, but he/she’s definitely got some robot skills, and math skills, and physics skills.
And an interest in robo-gymnastics:
01:13 of Playfully Programmed Industrial Robots:
Next up we’ve got industrial robots doing some precision goofing around. Denso, the company behind this demo, is a global conglomerate that makes all kinds of automotive stuff, including these seemingly playful manipulators. As we’ve said before, it’s difficult to dress up and sensationalize industrial robotics, but it’s a subject that does deserve heels and hotpants. If you wanna get hip, we went moderately deep and broad-spectrum on J-industrial bots last March, and in June we also got a line on Japanese maker Yaskawa Motoman’s move into China, to make robots in China, to sell to China (shrewd!); industrial robots might lack the built-in contemporary cultural cache of cool enjoyed by machines from the DARPA Robotics Challenge or the brand new, super-awesome Lego MINDSTORMS EV3 kit, but they’re far more more ubiquitous, have been far more transformative, and are far more profitable. If numbers are your thing, consider that, according to the International Federation of Robotics, at the end of 2012, 25% of all operational industrial robots in the world were located in a country where only 1.8% of humanity lives, on .014% of planet Earth’s habitable land area. Damn, Japan!
Okay, now it’s time to play:
02:09 of Tiny Talking Space Humanoid:
Wrapping up our set, we've got Kirobo, the joint venture between Toyota’s language skills people, University of Tokyo’s Advanced Science & Stuff department, Dentsu Robotics (not to be confused with Denso, above), and Tomotaka Takahashi’s Robo Garage. Kirobo got blasted up into space about three weeks ago, and the project promises to be an interesting technical and social experiment, but for now the robot speaks only Japanese. Nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but if the tiny humanoid is to be some kind of robotic space ambassador to humanity or whatever, you’d think Toyota could have tossed some English language kit into the little guy. Since the world's Japanese-speaking population tops out at about 128 million, i.e., the aforementioned 1.8% of all humans, none of whom are currently on the ISS, Kirobo’s going to be pretty lonely for a while. Until next spring, that is, when Koichi Wakata arrives to take over as the first Japanese commander of the ISS. The space-based Japanese-speaking population will then experience massive growth. To two.
For now, it's video messages and patriotic selfies: