In 2015, a group of high school students embarked on a project that would introduce advanced robotic technology to the traditional wooden toy kendama. The results are an amazing fusion between the future and the past - robots meeting kendama!
The Robot Meets Kendama Project took place between three different Japanese technical high schools and the robotics technology manufacturer DENSO. The goal was simple: collaborate to create a kendama playing robotic arm. Simple enough, right?
Not exactly. Who would have thought that it is just as difficult for a robot to play kendama as it is for one of us humans. The teams of students worked tirelessly programming and experimenting with the DENSO robotic arms they were assigned experiencing many failures along the way. However, throughout he process, each team began seeing successful results with each tweak they made to the robots software.
DENSO robots are precision high-speed robotic arms that are primarily used for industrial purposes on assembly lines. They are extremely versatile in their design, as their joints can move in various directions with precision accuracy. So it's not hard to see how DENSO might have thought kendama would be a good challenge for students studying robotic programming.
In the video below, you can watch a short documentary about the Robot Meets Kendama Project. It's interesting to see the students play kendama themselves, and then apply what they see and feel to the software programming for the project.
One thing I would like to point out here is how fascinating it is to see something as age old and human like kendama paired with modern technology to further our understanding of science. As a species, we can always look to the past to develop the future, and the Robot Meets Kendama Project is a perfect example of that.
You can see more videos of the Robot Meets Kendama Project on DENSO's Youtube channel.