When Yoichi Takamoto, president of the small Japanese company Tmsuk, decided to build a robotic guard for your house, he was not able to use the familiar design of a dog. The idea was already taken by Sony, with its successful Aibo. Instead, he decided to develop the Banryu (or "guard dragon") robots. After all, nobody has ever seen a real dragon. So he was free to design it as he wished. The result is a scary robot which is 90 centimeters tall, weighs 35 kilograms, has more than 50 built-in sensors and can transmit an alarm to its master's cell phone if someone tries to invade the house. It doesn't come cheap. The price is about $18,000, but you can choose between five colors. The Asahi Shimbun tells us the story while I'm providing the pictures of this frightening dragon.
Below are several photographs of Banryu.
||Even when it doesn't move, it looks scary! (Credit: tmsuk inc.).|
||And here is Banryu in action (Credit: Unknown).|
||Finally, here are several Banryus on stage (Credit: tmsuk inc.).|
With more than 50 built-in sensors, Banryu is capable of picking up changes in its surroundings and transmitting an alarm to its master's cellphone.
A camera on its back can swivel 360 degrees and send images of the room around it. It can also sense the smell of burning and detect temperatures above 50 degrees.
You can buy one right now, for 1.98 million yen, or about $18,000.
The robotic dragons cost as much as some automobiles. But despite the hefty price tag, 30 have already been sold through the Internet to a range of customers, from businesses looking to beef up office security to couples concerned about the safety of elderly parents.
There is one very interesting aspect about the development of this robot. The small 19-person company couldn't compete with big companies like Sony or Honda. So it turned for help to Sanyo, and to many small companies in the Fukuoka area where it's based. Now, these small and medium businesses are building the bulk of the more than 600 parts that constitute the guard dragon.
As a reminder, Banryu was featured last year in my Robodex 2003 Fashion Show. And for more images of this robot, you can view this animation (Macromedia Flash Player needed).
Source: Toshiyuki Otaki, The Asahi Shimbun, March 6,2004; and various websites