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The First Kyosho Athlete Humanoid Cup!

Biped Robot Competition Leaps ForwardStory and Photos by Lem Fugitt, www.robots-dreams.comDecember 10, 2006 – Tokyo, Japan

Kyosho Athlete Humanoid Cup Video (Windows Media Video, 28MB)

The launch of the MANOI AT01 humanoid robot kit, featured in our Winter 2006 issue, was an instant success with many stores in Japan selling out of stock within a few days of its September introduction. So it was no surprise when a large number of customers turned out with their robots fully assembled and customized to compete in the first Kyosho Athletics Humanoid Cup event on December 10th in the trendy Omotesando Hills complex in Tokyo.

The inaugural Kyosho Athlete Humanoid Cup  event was of keen interest to robot fans everywhere. The images below tell the story of how this exciting competition unfolded.

Left to right: Dr. GIY’s MANOI AT01, Sugiura’s AT01 and a silver MANOI PF01 were exhibited at a MANOI launch press conference in September 2006.

The competitions, watched by standing-room only crowds, included 5-meter sprints against the clock with both R/C and autonomous divisions, plus two minute demonstrations/performances scored by an expert panel of judges.

The fastest R/C 5-meter sprint time among the official competitors using stock MANOI AT01 robots was clocked at 15 .580 seconds by Otomo Nico piloted by Horinouchi Takashi. During exhibition sprints the current AT01 5-meter speed record of 11.540 seconds was established by Shibata’s modified and performance-tuned robot, who zipped down the course consistently time after time.

To achieve his lightning fast times, Shibata replaced the stock KRS-4024 leg servos with KRS-4013 servos which provided a significant torque improvement. To avoid having to slow down for time consuming course corrections, he took advantage of the AT01 RCB-3 controller master/slave functionality and created motions to command the robot to drift slightly to the right or left.

One of Sugiura’s MANOI prototypes, sans body shell.
And, when the robot is traveling that fast its momentum can often cause it to become unstable or suddenly tip over. To compensate, first Shibata added small rubber pads to the robots soles. Each pad was flat on the bottom, but slightly rounded on the edges so that they provided significant traction when flat, but almost zero drag as soon as the foot was tilted to run.The event was held at the trendy, up-scale Omotesando Hills center in Tokyo and commanded a lot of attention.Then he created custom motions that were evoked when stopping from high speed that provide enough counter force to compensate for the robots body’s forward momentum.In the much more challenging autonomous sprint event, where the operator isn’t allowed to touch or control their robot in any way once the start switch is pressed, the best time was 1 minute 39.930 seconds achieved by a modified AT01 created by Naoko Hikima.
Hikima is pursuing advanced robotics studies at the Kanagawa Institute of Technology (KAIT) RoboMecha laboratory, and also finds time in her busy schedule to manage the Kondo Robo Spot facility in Akihabara.
    Operating range (approx.) 260 degrees
    Torque 10.5 Kg-cm
    Speed 0.17 sec/60 degrees
    Gears Metal & Resin
    Approximate Resolution(dependent on the servos,controller and software) >1,800(10 steps/degree)
   Published command spec Yes
   Gyro feedback under program control to adjustmultiple servos Yes
   Scalable resolution Yes
   Conditional branching Yes
   Complex program routines Yes

MANOI parts schematic

Inspired by Garfield? This AT01, appropriatelynamed “Mano-Tiger” was created byMasaoSakakibara. The pit area was crowded, as usual, but full to the brim with energy and excitement. Each competitor is assigned a work area just big enough for a laptop computer, charger, and a few tools. It’s definitely elbow to elbow.

To challenge the autonomous sprint, she added a second CPU board with a magnetic compass sensor to the MANOI AT01. In a perfect world that would have worked fine, but as it turns out the competition venue was far from a perfect environment. The event was staged in a large hall, three stories below ground level, and obviously had some hidden iron or steel objects that caused major problems for all the competitors’ compass sensors.

After her first two attempts, which both ended with her robot making an abrupt right turn halfway down the course and heading directly for the sidelines, Hikima managed to quickly create compensating routines in the robots programming. On its third attempt, the robot successfully completed the sprint course and set the autonomous event record.

The event hall was nearly overflowing with excited spectators and contestants.

Since the event took place just a couple of weeks before Christmas, the Kyosho staff dressed up some of the MANOI robots like Santa Claus. The mallets they’re holding were used to play Christmas carols on a set of three xylophones.

The two minute demonstration/ performances included a beautiful light blue robot decorated with costume jewelry and wings that was sponsored by Robot Lifemagazine and piloted by Ms. Takeshita. In addition to some creative dance moves, her robot executed perfect forward rolls, one after the other.Dr. GIY, Yoshiaki Hagiwara – the creator of Yokozuna Great, the ROBO-ONE champion and an advisor to Kyosho on the MANOI AT01 project, put on a wonderful demonstration featuring two MANOI AT01 robot cats performing to a MTV -type music video.The robots had special transpondersinstalled in each foot so their sprint timescould be accurately recorded down to thehundredths of a second.The AT01 robots demonstrated surprising flexibility and strength while not compromising on smoothness of movement. Most of the entries used the stock configuration, but a few competitors had upgraded the leg servos to take advantage of increased torque.Even employees of the famous “Tsukumo Robot Kingdom” entered the competition, and ended up doing extremely well. The fact that Arai-san, the Tsukumo store manager is also on the ROBO-ONE organizing committee probably added to their motivation.The tension mounts just before a race and the competitors really buckle down and focus on doing their absolute best.

Yuta Sugiura, the creator of RETRO, holds his gold MANOI AT01 while being interviewed by one of several TV reporters. For the performance/demonstration competition, Yuta and his brothers showed off a voice module they added to the AT01 and an on board video camera used to track opponents.

A few of the competitors focused totally on the motion creation process, and didn’t have enough time to prep, paint, and finish the MANOI’s unique body shells. However, it didn’t affect the robots’ performance one iota.

One of the big attractions of the MANOI AT01 robots is that owners can easily modify, paint, and decorate  the robot’s body shells much as is done by RC car fans. As a result, MANOI AT01 robots showed up for the competition looking like all the colors of the rainbow, and with some eye-catching themes. The pictures show the excitement, whimsy, fun and most impressively, the robotic sophistication embodied in the new MANOI robots.

Motoko Takenishi, the managing editor of Robocon magazine, is usually holding the microphone and asking the questions, but this time the roles were reversed.

Tomotaka Takahashi, the creator of the MANOI PF01, Chroino, Neon, FT (the female robot), and a key member of the Team Osaka RoboCup championship team, served as one of the judges for the competition.

Left: Okamoto, the Kyosho MANOI project manager. Right: Takahashi, the MANOI PF01 creator.

Robots are of wide interest in Japan. The competitors at the Kyosho Cup came from all walks of life, occupations, and ages and included quite a few women.

Dr. GIY focused intently on doing everything he could to win.

Shibata shows off his modified MANOI AT01 robot that managed to sprint the 5 meter course in 11.540 seconds — a full 4 seconds faster than its closest stock competitor.

Shibata explains to Takahashi how he managed to coax really high speed performance from his MANOI.

Japanese television crews and media crowded the pit area to capture a minute or two with the top competitors.

Hikima and Takahashi discuss the difficulty of creating good and reliable autonomous operation.


About two years ago, Tomotaka Takahashi was commissioned by Kyosho to create a new robot humanoid, based in part on his famous Chroino design. The result was the first MANOI, now named the PF01. To address the mushrooming market for personal and hobby robotics, Kyosho expanded the original design concepts. Working closely with Kondo, a leading provider of servos, equipment and robots to hobbyists and experimenters worldwide, they created the MANOI AT01 robot.

I’ve got my eyes on you!The blue robot in the foreground was built by the Sugiura Brothers, who also acted as advisors to Kyosho during the AT01’s development and early testing. This MANOI was built by Toshiya Takahashi, the creator of the Robot TV video episodes that humorously document his adventures and misadventures with robots. The competition rules encouraged participants to express their creativity and design skills. It goes without saying that quite a few competitors chose manga/anime themes. One of the most colorful MANOI AT01s at the Kyosho Cup.One of the entries fielded by the Robot Life magazine looked more like a princess than a humanoid athlete.Naoko Hikima’s cute bear MANOI turned out to be a formidable competitor, and won first place in the autonomous sprint competition.

Two MANOIS race!

The MANOI Robot is so popular that one of the magazines included a paper model of the robot for fans to cut out, fold and assemble. Given the Japanese love of origami, it’s not too surprising that many of the robot designers here in Japan build paper models of new robot designs before cutting any metal.

The PF01, left, and AT01, right, photo courtesy of Kyosho.

Aki Suzuki, President of Kyosho, explains his vision and dreams for the Kyosho Cup competition.

  Right: Hirotoshi Kondo, President of Kondo Kagaku Co.  President Kondo, who served on the judges panel, worked closely with Kyosho in the development of MANOI technology and provided the timing devices and system used at this event.

To distinguish the two, Takahashi’s anime style robot was named the MANOI PF01, with the “PF” standing for “performance.” The new MANOI model, specifically designed with the hobbyist and experimenter in mind was dubbed the MANOI AT01, with the “AT” standing for “athlete.” Kyosho expects that that PF01 owners will be delighted with the robot’s performance and styling, while AT01 owners will be 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, which sponsors humanoid robot competition. 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 MANOI project. These include Dr. GIY and T. Sugiura, who also hold ID numbers 1 and 2 respectively in the official ROBO-ONE builder database.

Kyosho Athlete Humanoid Cup Video (Windows Media Video, 28MB)

—Lem Fugitt, www.robots-dreams.com

For more details on the people and technology surrounding the Kyosho event, please visit:

Dr. GIY’s Yokozuna Great, www.geocities.jp/dr_giy

Kyosho MANOI, www.kyosho.com/jpn/products/robot/index.html

Robots Dreams, www.robots-dreams.com

Sugiura Dynamizer, dynamizer.livedoor.biz

Words by Lem Fugitt