The difference between Japanese and US robotics

I’m going to give you a quick lesson in the difference between Japanese and US robot research. Or how about this: I’ll just show you two pictures, and you see if you can spot the difference.

There, on the left, that’s a Japanese robot. And on the right there, that’s a US robot. They are both walkers. And yet… something seems different.


Now, to be fair, these robots serve different purposes. But I feel certain that a Japanese roboticist would take one look at the headless wretch from Boston Dynamics and cry out, “For the love of God, why didn’t you put a face on that thing? Some Mr. Potato Head eyes, or a Hello Kitty sticker… anything!”

I’m not sure why humanoid robots are so popular in Japan. I’m told it has something to do with Astroboy. I will grant you there’s something creepy about the lawnmower-with-legs in the video.

4 thoughts on “The difference between Japanese and US robotics”

  1. It’s like the Americans are making their walkers purposely non-human. I think it all goes back to the whole Frankenstein/Luddite reaction the West has to technology — if we make the robots look human, they’ll take over the world. The fact that the Japanese don’t share this fear, despite having been at the receiving end of Western technology, means that they will always be ahead of us in robotics.

  2. You’re right! Notice the kicking in the video. Always with the kicking, these Boston Dynamics people (remember poor Big Dog). There’s some real passive aggressive behavior going on there. “We’ll demonstrate the robot’s stability by *CRUNCH* kicking it and *WACK* showing it who’s boss!” Don’t they realize it’s only going to be angrier when it becomes fully sentient and all-powerful?

  3. Does it really matter if your new Robot overlord has a smiley face or not? To paraphrase Sinclair Lewis, When the Robot Apocolypse comes to America, it will be wrapped in a WalMart bag and carring an iPhone.

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