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Japan's Murata siblings continue to develop their cycling skills...

Robots, eh? They can do the vacuuming, make a cup of tea, play football, and of course they’ve been making cars for years. Luckily for us, however, there’s little chance of a Terminator-style apocalypse if they aren’t able to master something that comes as naturally to human beings as riding a bike. Sorry, what’s that? Oh dear. Better track down John Connor and keep him safe.

News reaches us from Japan of the latest version of the bicycling robot Murata Boy, originally developed in 2005, unveiled at the recent CREATEC Japan 2010 show.

Intended primarily to showcase the Murata Manufacturing Company’s skills in fields such as movement sensors, communications and energy saving, the robot is also used to help engage schoolchildren in science, and there is an awful lot of technology in there, as this leaflet makes clear. Murata Boy has a sister, too, the unicycling Murata Girl. We’re not sure whether she’s also able to juggle and use a diabolo, but you never know.

While neither is about to break any speed records, and without wishing to take anything away from Murata's achievement to date, watching the robots go through their paces does make you realise just what a perfect marriage the human body is with a machine as essentially simple as a bicycle. You can spend millions trying to replicate that electronically, but right now, you're not going to come close to imitating it.

One advantage of robots, of course, is that their behaviour – in this pre-Judgment Day world at least – is entirely predictable and their performance precisely measurable. With the latest iteration of Murata Boy now able to go uphill, if they can just get the speed sorted out, we reckon we’ll see one in Team Sky colours before the decade’s over.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

10 comments

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bazzargh [150 posts] 5 years ago
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Crikey he cycles uphill faster than me. And probably with less bleeping too (this feels like ****ing Mount Fuji!)

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Tony Farrelly [2856 posts] 5 years ago
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I see the little propellor in his chest stopped going round as he hit the middle of the "hill" was that the robot equivalent of going anaerobic I wonder?  39

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dave atkinson [6145 posts] 5 years ago
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that unicycling lady robot looks like something out of a modern remake of chorlton and the wheelies

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Mark Appleton [46 posts] 5 years ago
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Simon, here's some entirely predictable robot behaviour...Looks like Asimo's been on the bottle again!

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don_don [149 posts] 5 years ago
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Come on guys - Robots unicycling and doing a totally, utterly perfect track-stand? If you are not impressed and amazed by that, then you need your heads examining  13

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Tony Farrelly [2856 posts] 5 years ago
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I'm impressed don_don and I know Jeff is cos he's seen Asimo in the flesh as it were, I'm just not scared yet… or maybe we're all trying to keep our sprits up.

Was at a talk last year by one of those futurologist chaps big corporations hire to predict technological and societal trends and he reckoned it was going to be a very short time indeed before machine intellect surpassed that of humans - in the future apparently we are all going to be machines or part machine with the internet implanted in our heads being the first step. Nice.

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Mark Appleton [46 posts] 5 years ago
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No doubt about it don-don, these machines are undeniably impressive. One thing that stuck with me after I "met" Asimo and interviewed his handler was what he told me about how children interact with the robot. Because Asimo is their size, they really relate to "him" and often start to cry when he leaves. Says something for their eventual potential to interact with people and provide companionship, I think.

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Simon_MacMichael [2443 posts] 5 years ago
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Don't let the jocular tone of the piece fool you, I've nothing but admiration for the people developing these and other robots. But writing it did make me reflect on just how complex and wonderful the human body is.

Having said that, I've probably watched far too many sci-fi movies with a robots-gone-bad plot than is good for me  3

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Super Domestique [1596 posts] 5 years ago
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oi! stop taking my username in vain!!! I am no robot  3

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don_don [149 posts] 5 years ago
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Maybe I mis-read the tone of the article, sorry about that.

I'm not sure about having t'internet implanted in my head, but if I can get re-chipped to track-stand like that, I'm in...