Mar 212006

Pirkus-R at Robot-OneAs I predicted last Friday, the coverage by of the Robo-One competition that took place in Tokyo over the weekend has been nothing short of outstanding. Lem dropped us a comment this morning to let us know that he actually got some face time (pun intended) with the Pirkus-R Type-01 robot, the Bluetooth humanoid whose facial recognition upgrade we reported on late last week. In addition to going one on one with the bot in the controlled environment of the exhibitors area, he also has posted a video of Pirkus-R attempting to do its thing under the more extreme conditions of the competition ring.

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Mar 182006

Pirkus-R Type-01 reports today that the Pirkus-R Type-01 robot has recently had its facial recognition software updated. The upgrade addresses limitations that had often hindered recognition attempts by earlier models, including variations in lighting and positioning of the target subjects. Now Pirkus-R can track the location and orientation of its target and move itself into position in order to capture an optimal facial image with its built-in camera.

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Jan 172006

JVC J4 Bluetooth robotEven though it was initially announced in the fall of 2004 at the CEATEC trade show in Tokyo, details about JVC’s J4 Bluetooth-controlled robot have been few and far between. Engadget is reporting today that JVC had the J4 out on display again in Japan recently, and quite frankly the details are still sketchy. The original news article is in Japanese, but Engadget has been able to translate some of the new details. They’ve determined that the J4 has two CMOS cameras in its head capable of recording video. It has a lithium ion battery that gives it 90 minutes of power, and it can be controlled via voice or cell phone. Apparently it also is capable of the staples like singing and dancing. All in all except for the Bluetooth it seems comparable to the other humanoid robots out there. JVC’s got no plans for a commercial release although apparently this demonstration was to test the waters. I think I need to see some solid specs in English before I can form an opinion.

Jan 052006

Lego Mindstorns NXT Robot

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been in full swing in Las Vegas for the last few days, and while there’s been a lot of cool gadget news and product announcements, there hasn’t been much worth mentioning here until today. To the surprise of many people, myself included, Lego announced this morning that the next version of their Mindstorms robotics kit, NXT, would be available for purchase in August of 2006. While many had written the platform off after the 2.0 version released in 2001, Lego has actually been undertaking a super-secret development campaign in conjunction with a select handful of Mindstorm enthusiasts for more than a year and a half. The fruits of this endeavor, NXT, will not be an upgrade to 2.0, but rather is a complete overhaul of the entire kit from the building blocks to the microprocessor.

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Dec 062005
Plen humanoid robot


The Plen is one of the few humanoid robots to come out of IREX that I had not previously heard of. Unfortunately I have not been able to dig up much information on it yet either. What I have learned is that is being developed by Systec Akazawa, a Japanese aircraft parts maker. It has built-in Bluetooth that allows it to be controlled by a cellphone or pda as well as a computer. The Plen will go on sale in March of 2006 and cost approximately $2100 USD.