Cheery Robots with a serious side...

Japanese tech firm Murata has been creating proof-of-concept robots that do novel, entertaining things for years. They ride bicycles and unicycles, and do performances at press events and conventions. However, as the company turns 70, they needed to do something extra-impressive. 

Enter a team of 10 festive, streamlined robots, holding LED-lighted pom-pons. They dance, in sync, to J-Pop music, and move on a single ball “foot,” balanced perfectly using internal gyros.

Don’t take my word for it, check out the video:

Ever practical, Murata believes that a fleet of tiny robots might be better at searching for trapped survivors after a disaster. Although perhaps the cheer-bot designer, Koichi Yoshikawa, might have watched a bit too much anime as a kid, because he envisions the tiny robots “coalescing” into a bigger, more capable robot to perform rescues. Voltron much?

One other thing came to mind when watching the cheerleader robots’ precision dance: a sense of deja-vu. I remembered an animated short that made the rounds a little less than two decades ago: one of the first done with the aid of computers. Take a look at “Technological Threat” by Bill Kroyer and Kroyer Animation. Robots that get around with a single ball as a “foot?” Check it out.