CEATEC Japan 2009: high wind in Makuhari, more robots and a video wrap-up of our show coverage
Bit of a strange day here at CEATEC Japan 2009, and indeed a bit of a scary one in Japan as a whole: Typhoon Melor, predicted to be the biggest the country had experienced for a decade, hit Japan just before dawn, bringing torrential rain and winds pushing 200kph. That's over 120mph in real money.
And for anyone who hears the 'wrong kind of leaves' excuses in the UK and says 'in Japan the trains run whatever the weather', I have news for you: they don't.
Most of the Shinkansen lines were stopped, local trains were disrupted, roads were flooded, bridges came down and power was lost as flying debris snagged in the mainly overhead electricity lines in many areas.
At the last count, two people have died as a result of falling trees, and many more have been injured by flying debris.
The weather and the stopped trains also brought CEATEC to a halt.
Unfortunately that was something we only discovered when we stumbled the couple of hundred metres across the covered walkways from our hotel to the show in the Makuhari Messe, Japan's main exhibition site, this morning – a process which left Mrs E, who has been responsible for most of the camerawork in the video reports we've been uploading this week, more than a little windswept!
On arrival we found the usually packed and buzzing press room and the entrances all but deserted, and soon discovered the 10am opening time had been put back until 1pm. Simple reason – no visitors!
By the afternoon there was little sign of a typhoon – almost cloudless blue skies, temperatures in the mid-20s – but it was clear walking around the show that many potential visitors had changed plans. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the stand staff outnumbered the visitors in some halls.
But the show went on, and we made the most of our last full day in the halls to catch up on some of the stranger and more entertaining things on offer away from the major consumer electronics names.
So we were able to catch up with the new tricks learned by Murata's unicycling robot, Seiko-chan, and discover what Nissan's EPORO robot cars have been up to since CEATEC 2008.
The little robots had last year just about mastered not bumping into each other, as befits their EPisode ZerO RObot name, which is all to do with zero emissions and zero collisions.
This year they've been to fish school, and learned how to travel as schools of fish do: they don't bump into each other, they can travel in parallel maintaining fixed spacing, and they can alter their formation to tackle obstacles.
It's all done with ultra wide-band communications, laser range-finding and the like – click the picture below to see the EPOROs in action, and our round-up of what's been happening here at CEATEC Japan 2009.