RobotRepublicgina smith — If you travel to Asia much, you know robots are a lot more visibly among us than they are over here. I once had to stop at a Japanese store akin to a Home Depot. I asked the English-speaking clerk about where a certain product was, and she summoned a life sized robot with an eerie slightly Welsh accent to accompany me there.

That’s why it doesn’t surprise me a bit that the sounds and sights coming out of the 2017 World Robot Convention (WRC 2017) going on this week in Beijing are so danged memorable. The conference kicked off Aug. 23 and will continue here through Aug. 27. In addition to a packed schedule of keynotes and panel discussions, some 150 robot researchers will be showing up their robots, robot applications and various other feats of engineering.

A bit dry for your taste? No worries, because WRC this year, as always, has plenty of opportunities to let your hair down. This year, it’s got events with names like Chinese Drone Racing, The Robot Combat Competition, the 2017 Robot Youth Design Contest and more. There’s a BCI-controlled robot competition, too, that seems to have folks here buzzing.

Remember MIT’s ‘Faster than Usain Bolt’ Robot Cheetah? It’s back.

MIT’s crazy and amazing robotic cheetah has learned a new trick. Now, the four-legged robot that can run and jump like a real animal can detect and jump over obstacles.

The researchers behind the cheetah are here to update the robot world about some major improvements to the design.

Now, in addition to running at a pace faster than Usain Bolt (28.3 kph) and jumping over obstacles as tall as it is, it can see. Sort of. Check it out.

2. Robot lounge lizard? Maybe. But listen to it play!

3. And just when you thought they’d maxed out Honda Asimo …

You know Honda Asimo.

Earlier this year Honda showcased the latest version of its advanced humanoid ASIMO, which it released almost 14 years ago. The video below is from an April 2017 demonstration, where engineers show its latest improvements, which include the ability to climb up steps (without stopping) and use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate.

WRC 2017 will witness more improvements in agility, aimed at getting Asimo to the point where it can truly aid disabled humans and the elderly. Check it out.

5. Shiqian Sun Studio’s Dragon Chen Robot 

 

wrc 2017 japanese robots

 

This headliner comes via another great show, the Maker Faire Beijing, which kicked off back on Aug. 9, 2017. Billed as  among the first large-sized transforming sculptures, it debuted here at WRC 2017 and has been scoring a ton of Chinese TV coverage. Check it out here.

Got a suggestion for a WRC 2017 sight or sound to drop into this piece? Don’t wait. Please DM me at @GinaSmith888 or drop me a line at Editor@RobotRepublic.org.

For RobotRepublic, I’m Gina Smith.