Tuesday, July 31, 2012


This is what innovation looks like.

Okay, so on the surface, the videos appear to be little more than an Anime fanboy's dream come true. But see past the robot geekiness for a moment, and you realize something. Those arms actually move, and it doesn't take much to operate them.

Kogoro Kurata took the concept of a master-slave system, and made it a reality. Manga artist and designer Shirow Masamune, in his 1992 book Intron Depot 1, explained the concept this way:
The master arms have small joints that correspond to the shoulders and elbows [...]. You control the slave arms as if you were manipulating a small puppet in front of you.
Now, I don't know if Kurata was the first person to manage this. If others came before him, he's simply getting the most press right now. But this is a technology that has some real potential. Although the Kuratas robots are artworks, and not "real" vehicles, if someone takes that idea and expands upon it, it could open up a wealth of possibilities. It's the combination of "what if" and "I can do that."


rockettubes said...

Open the pod bay doors, HAL...

Actually the waldo concept (which was described by Heinlein if I recall?) was used effectively by submersible bathyscapes in the 1970s or late 1960s... The software he is using is one that is available that's normally used for small scale hobbyist robots. :D

Aaron said...

Yep, I'm aware that what he's doing isn't really new, either hardware or software-wise (after all, few ideas are 100% original), but he's put it together in a new way. And I think that if this finds a level of success, then we'll see more people build on it.

(But isn't this slightly different than a standard waldo that mirrors your own movements?)

rockettubes said...

Ah, good point, it's a lot more like the puppet controls used in some CG animation, for one example, than a proper waldo. I agree, the combination of the different methods of control is particularly inspired. I do hope it finds some success, though its practicality beyond being a big toy will need to be further demonstrated, of course.