Since the impressive triumph of the Hanoi Polytechnic University’s BKCT team at a robot contest named Robocon in 2003, the team’s leader has become the director of the first robot and hi-tech toy manufacturing company in Vietnam, TOSY.
Robot TOPIO 2.0.
Ho Vinh Hoang said his childhood was as normal as other kids’. He was very active and had a passion for hi-tech toys like remote-controlled cars and planes. He often took his toys apart to see what the inside looked like.
When he was a high-school student, Hoang was determined to become a robot and hi-tech toy manufacturer. Ten years ago, he tried to make a ball robot which could roll upwards, backwards, to the left, to the right and could move on different terrains.
In 2003, Hoang participated in the Robocon contest as the leader of the Hanoi Polytechnic University’s team. His team won the championship. Hoang established a robot and hi-tech toy manufacturing company named Topsy, and his teenage wish was fulfilled. The first products of Topsy were flying objects and boomerangs.
He then focused on manufacturing a robot named TOPIO. TOPIO can play table tennis with human beings. It has a head, two hands and six legs. It can hit the ball, calculate scores and express feelings upon losing or winning a game. Made of composite materials, TOPIO can move quickly and accurately, like a human. Four high-speed cameras help TOPIO identify the trajectory of the ball and accurately return shots. TOPIO knows how to hit an incoming ping pong ball when it has traveled only 20 cm from the opponent’s paddle.
The made-in-Vietnam robot TOPIO captured special attention at the International Robot Exhibition (IREX) held in Tokyo in late 2007. Local and international press agencies tried to make appointments with the representative of Tosy. Reuters, Nippon, Japanese newspapers and foreign press agencies in Japan filmed, photographed and reported on TOPIO’s demonstration at the exhibition.
Donkennedi, editor of Technology and Industry News, said TOPIO was the most impressive robot at the exhibition. Representatives of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs arranged a meeting with Hoang on the last day of the exhibition, when the Vietnamese-produced robot was introduced as the new image of the country.
Mass media representatives and the organising boards of several technology trade fairs have invited Tosy’s TOPIO to perform, saying that TOPIO would be welcome in the US. One US company has even expressed interest in TOPIO for upgrading.
Returning from Tokyo, Hoang and his co-workers continued upgrading TOPIO and other hi-tech toys. He has received hundreds of orders for Tosy’s products from many countries. Tosy has become more popular and Hoang has recruited many more talented employees who were members of teams at Robocon contests.
Hoang and his colleagues are preparing to bring TOPIO and other products to an international toy festival in Germany in February, to the world’s largest festival of robots in Japan this November and the world’s largest automation exhibition in Germany in June 2010.
Hoang disclosed that Tosy’s goal in 2009 is introducing large-sized TOPIO and commercialising small-sized TOPIO. The TOPIO 2.0 is improved to have better shape and better skills in playing table tennis. Tosy is also manufacturing industrial robots.