Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Panasonic Robot Mascot Off To Le Mans

Panasonic wants to prove that its AA alkaline Evolta batteries are the best in the world--even though it already has a certificate from Guinness World Records.
The electronics giant plans to send its 12-inch Evolta robot car in France, where it will race around part of the Le Mans endurance circuit for as long as possible.
Evolta batteries have a 10-year shelf life. Panasonic boasts they're the longest-lasting batteries of their kind in the world.
Built of carbon fiber over an aluminum frame, the Evolta robot car (more like a tricycle) travels at a blinding top speed of 0.8 mph. It has two small forward motors powered by a pair of batteries in its robot driver's back, and autonomously follows a lead car emitting an infrared guide signal.
The robot, called "Mr. Evolta" in English, was designed by entrepreneur Tomotaka Takahashi, known for his designs for humanoid kit robots inspired by Japanese animation and science fiction.
Mr. Evolta is no stranger to challenges. Last year, he managed to climb out of the Grand Canyon--it took over six hours but he successfully scaled 1,700 feet after two aborted attempts. Check out the video below.
The Evolta campaign is another illustration of how Japanese manufacturers are willing to use robots as pitchmen in Japan, catering to an innate Japanese love of machines. Honda Motor's Asimo robot is probably a more effective "spokesperson" than any of its human colleagues.
How would people respond if GM replaced Fritz Henderson with a robot CEO?

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