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No Robots AT ALL

semi-overcast 74 °F
View RTW Oct - Dec 2014 on tdeits's travel map.

After the madness of Sunday, I planned a quieter day while Robin and Michele visited friends. Decided on museum hopping. Sadly, I forgot the First Rule of Global Museum Visiting - All museums are closed on Monday everywhere!! Never forget this, grasshopper - it will save you much anguish in your travels.

Undaunted, I wandered around through some parks and residential areas near the Koto area with no clear aim. I did discover an interesting item related to my search for unusual UAC's (Utility Access Covers - see the On to Japan post for what this is all about). The sidewalks were decorated with beautiful inset ceramic tiles with a nature theme and styles that varied street-by street. Here are some examples.


I also encountered what has to be the worlds largest pedestrian bridge. Yes, that speck on the right side of the bridge is an entire pedestrian!


I decided to take an afternoon run down to Yokohama. It's a pretty easy and inexpensive hour or so on Japan Rail commuter trains to get there. The area I walked through (between the Yokohama train station and Yokohama Bay) has more in common with Houston than Tokyo. It's all brand new, very car-centric with wide traffic-filled streets and big office buildings. Also some pretty fancy auto dealerships.


I also ran across a particularly horrifying concept in retail shopping. This is a shop just opened by a Danish chain. The store is designed so that you are forced to go down every single aisle in order to exit the place! And sadly (because pirates are so awesome) it's pirate-themed, to the point that store clerks have to wear pirate hats. arrgh.


One bit of nature was a crane that allowed me to slowly sneak up on it and get a decent picture.


Yokohama was also a somewhat more fruitful venue for interesting UAC's - here are a couple.


Had a fancy dinner at a floating restaurant overlooking the bay for a treat. Delicious brochette of perfectly grilled seafood for a main course with appetizers, soup and dessert. Quite nice.

Hopped the train home and called it a night.

Posted by tdeits 15:02 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo uac yokohama Comments (1)

Robots - The Final Chapter

....or is it?

overcast 71 °F
View RTW Oct - Dec 2014 on tdeits's travel map.

Tuesday was the day for Robin's talk at the University of Tokyo, so getting ready and getting over there consumed most of the day. U Tokyo is a pretty standard university campus, with one attractive and unusual feature - a beautiful 17th century garden and pond (shaped like the character for 'heart').


The talk went well - both Robin's and the U Tokyo team are friendly rivals in the DARPA Robotics Challenge so there was considerable interest in his work on robot locomotion. Here's Robin in action.


After the talk we were treated to a tour of their robotics lab, which is just stuffed with robots. We watched an HRP-2 as it opened the door to let us in then loaded a cart and pushed it out of the room. We were served a beverage by a Willow Garage robot (sadly, not a beer - robotic beer delivery being the Holy Grail of robot/human interactions, of course). And saw their Baxter and the robot that did the barista demo at Japan Robot Week. Oh, and another Willow Garage robot. All of these critters in a single lab! Finally, we were introduced to one of their latest projects, a humanoid robot with movement controlled by cables and electrical actuators. Here's Robin getting to know it -


This robot is intended to help understand human movement, so it is being designed to be as close to human in structure as possible. Does knowing that make it seem a little less creepy? I didn't think so.

We also got to see the robot under development for the DARPA Robotics challenge, but we didn't take any pictures; friendly rivalry only goes so far!

On the way out, I spotted another cool UAC


We headed to the Ginza for a shabu shabu dinner including Waygu beef to celebrate, and wandered the Ginza for a while.

This was our last day as a group; Robin and Michele head home tomorrow and I head to Korea the next day.

What a start to the adventure!

Posted by tdeits 15:59 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo university uac robots Comments (0)

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