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Monday, March 16, 2009

Robot of the Day: Murata Girl, the Robo Unicyclist

Just recently we talked about the bicycle-riding robot Murata Boy in a previous blog post, but did you know that the Murata Boy now has a very cute cousin, the Murata Girl, who made her debut in 2008 and demonstrated her amazing unicycling skills at CEATEC JAPAN 2009.

Ever since the Murata Boy robot became a huge hit with his impressive bicycle-riding skills, fans had demanded his maker, the Japanese company Murata Manufacturing, to build him a companion. So the development began in 2007, but this time, the engineering team decided to make a female version, and to make it more challenging, the Murata Girl would only ride on one wheel, instead of two wheels like her cousin.

The Murata Girl uses the same kind of gyroscopic sensors and a spinning fly wheel at her chest to maintain balance. She is 50cm tall and weights 5kg. She can ride forward, reverse backward, remain idling, avoid obstacles, and even follow others. Then using Bluetooth technology, the Murata Girl can also take commands from a remote PC. The camera on her head also allows the remote operator to see from her perspective. The robot's project page shows more details about her capabilities and her internal mechanism.

Riding a unicycle is certainly more difficult than riding a bicycle (that's why most people know how to ride a bicycle, but not a unicycle). Murata Girl sometimes does fall down, but when she is in a good mood, she could cross a narrow bridge as narrow as 20mm (that's less than an inch) on her unicycle. Here's a video footage of her adorable performance.

The engineering team behind the Murata Girl is still working on improving her skills and capabilities. Wouldn't it be nice if they could teach her how to juggle while riding the unicycle? That would make her a true performer, and we'll be one step closer to a robot circus!

Video of the Day:

It's so sad to see Messi exiting the World Cup stage without scoring a single goal, despite the fact that he had the most shots (30 shots and 15 on goal) among all players including several shots hitting the poles or the crossbar. Argentina is crying (so is Germany)! Well, enjoy this beautiful song by André Rieu: Don't cry for me Argentina!