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New MANOI Athlete Humanoid Robots

Kyosho Raises the ROBO-ONE Bar 

Preview of the Feature Story in the Winter 2006 Issue of Robot 

      Photos by Lem FugittTwo MANOI AT01s and a PF01 pose for photographers.What do a 47 year old wind-turbine designer, a 16 year old high school student, a 30-something hobbyist and ex-R/C car fanatic, and the world’s most well known character-type robot creator have in common?They all live, eat, breath, and sleep humanoid robots. For them, it’s an uncontrollable passion. Plain and simple, they love robots. And, luckily for all the rest of us robot fans around the world, Kyosho, with support from Kondo brought together this unusual team of robot creators to give birth to the growing line of MANOI Athlete Humanoid Robots – the AT01 and the PF01.MANOI AT01 prototype showing the controller placement and wire routing. The molded plastic frames are rigid and durable.

Almost everyone involved in robotics knows about Tomotaka Takahashi from ROBO-Garage. His surprisingly lifelike creations include Neon, Chroino, and most recently FT – the female robot that walks as if she were actually strutting down a fashion show runway in Paris or New York. In addition to designing highly stylized robots, Takahashi is also one of the key members of TEAM OSAKA, the champion robot soccer team that has consistently walked away with top honors at both Japan and international Robo-Cup competitions.THE FIRST MANOIApproximately two years ago Takahashi was commissioned by Kyosho to create a new robot humanoid, based in part on his Chroino design. The result was the first MANOI robot, now named the ‘PF01’, unveiled to the press and public in the Fall of 2005. The PF01 immediately captured the attention of both the press and the public with its distinctive comic/manga character, style, and anime movements.  Although the robot was initially scheduled to go on sale by June, 2006, it ran into unexpected production problems and initial shipments have been delayed until November of this year.Takahashi’s creations are quite literally technological works of art. They are so finely designed and beautiful, that it’s hard to imagine an owner really getting down and dirty with one. The first scratch or part that’s cracked because you were trying to battle it out with a friend’s robot in a backyard ROBO-ONE fight might be a heartbreaker.At the same time, there are a huge number of hobbyists and enthusiasts that love to express their own personal creativity and personality through their ‘toys.’ To address this still emerging market for personal and hobby robotics, Kyosho decided to expand the original MANOI design concepts. Working closely with Kondo, a leading provider of servos and equipment to hobbyists and experimenters involved in humanoid robotics, they created the MANOI AT01 robot.


In order to distinguish between the two MANOI robots, Takahashi’s anime style robot was renamed the MANOI PF01 – the “PF”standing for “PerFormance.” The new MANOI model, specifically designed with the hobbyist and experimenter in mind, was dubbed the MANOI AT01 – the “AT” standing for “Athlete.” Kyosho expects that PF01 owners will be really pleased with the robots performance and styling, while the AT01 owners will be totally turned on by the opportunity to build, customize, and compete with their robot.

Both Kyosho and Kondo are founding members of the Japanese ROBO-ONE organization, so it made perfect sense for them to call on some of the top ROBO-ONE champion robot builders to serve as key advisors for the project. It’s no coincidence that their two advisors, Dr. GIY and T. Sugiura, also happen to hold ID numbers 1 and 2 respectively in the official ROBO-ONE builder database…

By selecting the Kondo RCB-3 controller, Kyosho has made it possible for AT01 owners to take advantage of a wide range of accessories, established know-how, and modifications. For example, almost all the remote control strategies already proven to work with the Kondo KHR-2HV robot and its predecessor the KHR-1, will work with the AT01 with little or no modification. Most owners will initially select an optional RC remote control like the Kondo KRC-1, but other remote control implementations like BlueTooth are certainly feasible.

Two of the MANOI PF01 color schemes.Dr. GIY positioning his AT01 for the Balloon Survival contest.

Shiroma’s AT01 prototype during a dice event. Two robots compete trying to push the die past their opponent’s goal line.

Sugiura, in Kyosho colors, takes photos and videos of robots in action.

Kyosho, http://www.kyosho.com; www.kyoshoamerica.com

Kondo, http://www.kondo-robot.com

Robo-Garage, http://www.robo-garage.com/english/index.html


Sugiura’s AT01 prototype during a testing phase.Tomotaka Takahashi shows his PF01 design at a recent press conference in Japan. Asked about the difference between the two MANOI variants, he stressed that the PF01 has a unique “comical” personality and behavior, while the AT01 is designed to compete as an athlete.

Two AT01s and the PF01 MANOI robot.

MANOI playing ROBO-ONE robot battle ball. Retro is on the left, MANOI is wearing the number 2 jersey in the middle, Dynamizer is wearing number 10, and Yokozuna Great, captain of the opposing team, is to the right.

The AT01’s servos are so powerful that it just spreads its legs apart then does a scissors move to stand back up from the floor.

The AT01 design and powerful servos enable it to execute moves that would be impossible for many older robots.

Dr. GIY and Sugiura watching competition. Both men are pivotal team players who influenced the design of the MANOI. The design on Sugiura’s t-shirt is a “kami-robot” or paper robot. Sugiura’s diverse robot collection includes musical machines: a mechanical antique record player from the 1920s, a player piano, and a fully functional robot jazz group.

Click here to view a very high-res version of the full MANOI schematic shown below.

For the rest of the story, see the Winter ’06 issue of Robot magazine — the editors

Story and photos by Lem Fugitt, www.robots-dreams.com

Words by Lem Fugitt