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Toys

Smallest RC Cars? 155

fredhsu writes: "My brother-in-law bought two micro RC cars in Japan for me. They are both smaller than a matchbox. DigiQ from Takara is infrared-controlled, has two independent rear wheels powered by two tiny motors, and comes with a pistol-style analog controller. Bit Char-G from Tomy (Tomica) is radio-controlled, single-motor rear wheel drive, front wheel steering, and comes with an awkward controller with forward/backward + left/right switches. You really need to see the video clips to appreciate how small and maneuverable these cars are. I personally like DigiQ more, because of its powerful motors and analog controls. On the other hand, Bit Char-G has an extensive line of hop-ups and accessories. DigiQ sells for $50-$80 and Bit Char-G for $30-$50."
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Smallest RC Cars?

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  • Old Trick (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RobertTaylor ( 444958 ) <roberttaylor1234 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday March 01, 2002 @06:43AM (#3089359) Homepage Journal
    About five years ago I used to have a Tomy Char-G and played around with it in the office. In the UK there was a limited range, of around 4 colours, each with their own frequency (ie. red controller with red car etc).

    As a result syncronised char-g races occured, with several cars of the same colour being controlled by one handset! Quite fun ;)
  • Bit Char-G is cool (Score:4, Informative)

    by jamesidm ( 244299 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @06:43AM (#3089360)
    I have a Bit Char-G, and it is pretty cool. It comes in kit form and you build it yourself. To drive it is ok, but better if you leave the chasis off (you can spin a lot better with less weight). You place the car on the side of the controller to charge it up before you use it, so no heavy batteries are on the car. The charged up car lasts about 2-3 mins before needing charging again but it is pretty cool.
    • Yes, and you charge the thing for about 45 seconds to get about two minutes of racing. Just remember to pull out the antenna on the controller all the way and point it in the direction of the car to get the most range which is about 5 metres. 4 of these things make good racing on hard floors in the corridor! Just put a few cones or obstacles and race around them!
  • ...but i'm holding out for nanocars. four rotating carbons for tires... a few silicons for the body... and you can drive them in your bloodstream! :D
  • turrets (Score:2, Funny)

    by jazzman45 ( 86593 )
    bit char-g
    BITCH ARG!!!
  • thinkgeek! (Score:3, Informative)

    by \\ ( 118555 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @06:59AM (#3089383) Homepage
    thinkgeek [thinkgeek.com] sells little mini "desk rovers [thinkgeek.com]" like these, which look too damn cool.
    • Re:thinkgeek! (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They are not all they are cracked up to be. It's neat to have a tank-like car with treads, but it's extremely slow.

      Also, if I were ever to bring it into the office, I'd be lynched for the amount of noise it generates.
      The USB/Serial interface you can get for it (hooked up via the controller) allows for control from your Mac (OS X only) or PC, but it's not precise. Any macro you try to set for it would fail after a few runs.

      Add to all that, the fact that it uses those mojo-expensive Lithium CR123 batteries (2 of them) and you have a rather unappealing gizmo. I bought two, so I could give one as a Christmas present to my friend, but it's still sitting in a cupboard. I got him a phone, instead.

    • Re:thinkgeek! (Score:2, Informative)

      by IIOIOOIOO ( 517375 )
      I own three of those tanks, and they're pretty lame. The ir guns don't sense properly, the treads constantly come off, they're slow on any surface, and won't go at all on carpet.
  • Uses! (Score:4, Funny)

    by FarHat ( 96381 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @06:59AM (#3089384)
    Now attach an X10 cam to this and have all those upskirt views you've always craved :)
    • Uses: Cat toy! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BlueStreak ( 140891 )
      Hmmm... if I were to attach a small piece of string or cover the car in the fake fur (found on cheap toy mice) I'd have a very easy way to keep my cats entertained and in shape!
      • There was a guy at the MN State Fair two years ago with a RC car that had a fake (I hope!) skunk fur attached. He would quietly run it up to people walking around. Pretty amusing to see some of the reactions. No one quite climbed up on top of a table, but they came close.
    • It's been done with a mini-z, no mention of upskirts. Technology is just downright scary sometimes...

      http://mini-zracer.com/parts/ [mini-zracer.com]

  • I can just imagine making my way to the euphamism on a dark night and CRUNCH - there's eighty bucks down the drain.
  • RC cars? (Score:5, Funny)

    by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @07:07AM (#3089396) Homepage
    Personally, I'd rather have RC helicopters. Yes, I know their batteries wouldn't last long... but in an office environment, tiny cars aren't going to get very far, given the amount of clutter which would obstruct them. Helicopters, on the other hand, could fly over cubicle walls to attack people...
    • Re:RC cars? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Chelloveck ( 14643 )

      Now there's a way to make your first million. Market a line of affordable RC Nerf Attack Helicopters.

      Even better if they were programmable and could be used autonomously. "Nerf Mindstorms". Oooh, I could rule this office!

      • Defend me, my Legions!

        My first RC car was a brown Bronco from the Sears Wish Book. It was $40+ bucks and ran for about 10-15 min on 5 C Nicads. It had two gears, switchable on the car, high speed and a torque setting (low). I took it apart to put a Lego body on it, and don't remember what happened to it. (It rocked.) When I grew up (ha), I bought an RC 10 (far too expensive - $250+ ow.) and that was fun! Got rid of it later, though - you run into a tree at 35 mph, and something's got to give (not the tree ;) Parts for the thing were crazy $$$, but at least you could fix anything that went wrong.

        Toys that actually defended themselves would be altogether too damn cool! Now if I could only rig something to attack the cats on the kitchen counter...

    • heli and saucer (Score:3, Informative)

      by profeti ( 90050 )
      Keyence (Japan) has an heli [keyence.co.jp] and something called Gyrosaucer [keyence.co.jp], which looks like it could be pretty cool. They also have a mini tractor tralier [keyence.co.jp] .
    • by mks113 ( 208282 ) <mks@@@kijabe...org> on Friday March 01, 2002 @08:30AM (#3089544) Homepage Journal
      Take a look at the Piccolo [hobby-lobby.com] helicopter. A definite flyweight, but bigger than the cars! It is meant for indoor flight.
    • Re:RC cars? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by don_carnage ( 145494 )
      This is probably bigger than you're thinking, but cool none-the-less: Draganflyer [draganfly.com].
    • Re:RC cars? (Score:3, Informative)

      by tramm ( 16077 )
      You can help develop a Free Software autonomous helicopter [sourceforge.net]. The current hardware is a bit too large to fit on the smaller electric helicopters [planetinternet.be], but most glow or gas engine rotorcraft will work.

    • A small RC blimp would be far more appropriate. No need to spend energy just to stay up. Also when it's not moving, it can go to standby mode.

      The only problem I see is air conditioning vent. This could make it's live a little bit harder in some part of the office.
      • The trouble is that RC blimps don't scale down (below the 10 foot range) very well. They tend to be very delicate, spidery contraptions [rcmicroflight.com].
      • I've got one of those.. they're pretty cool, although the model that I had gotten for christmas only has 2 motors: forward and back. No up or down, so I have to control that with counterweights n' stuff. it only takes a little bit of weight to change what height it idles at.

        My cat just about ripped the thing to shreads when she saw it come at her for the first time though.. was kinda funny. :)
    • I can only imagine these things, lots of fun, until somebody loses an eye. At least when Mabel from HR walks into one of these things and needs facial surgery, she'll sue your employer and not you.
      • I can only imagine these things, lots of fun, until somebody loses an eye.

        Remember, it's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. Then, it's just fun.
    • That's a good idea, but I was just thinking one of these little cars with an X10 spycam on the hood... I guess a mini-chopper would be better at that too!
    • There are remote control blimps, which might be rather safer (assuming you like at least some of your co-workers...)
    • Re:RC cars? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They DO have indoor RC helicopters.

      > Now attach an X10 cam to this and have all
      > those upskirt views you've always craved :)

      They even have attachable microcameras.

      Both here [marine-monsters.com]

      AGS.

  • they say: World's fastest - up to 4 times faster than other micro R/C cars

    So how fast do the others go?

    Inquring minds want to know....

    • DigiQ is much faster than a walking adult. Given its size (and the size its tiny wheels), that is quite some speed. On the other hand, turning at such speed is almost impossible. Cornering is an art, even in the easy mode.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is the HPI Micro RS4 [hpiracing.com]. They are 1/18th scale, I think that makes them around 7-8 inches long. These use standard radios & servos, and are all wheel drive, while still being small enough to rip through the office. They can even be run off standard alkaline batteries, or the standard R/C rechargable packs. (And can drive for up to 40 minutes on 4 AA's)
    • they've got a little too much acceleration to be used in the office. We've raced them on outside basketball courts, with custom 6 cell AA NiMH 1600 MAh packs for them, and the standard motor is just burning when the pack starts dumping. :) We use Hitec HS-81MG servos, the metal gears are almost a requirement.

      If you want an office racer, go with the 2 wheel drive Kyosho Mini-Z
      • they've got a little too much acceleration to be used in the office. We've raced them on outside basketball courts...

        Hehehe...

        My 2cs worth of useless, OT info:
        Most people who have never seen a real RC car can't understand why you can't or don't want to race your 1:10th scale 4WD modified touring car around inside.
        But anyone who has driven one, knows it's like trying to race a top-fuel dragster inside car parking building. ;)

        • Indeed. We race 1:10 scale AWD touring cars up in Brooklyn Park, MN, and thought that getting Micro RS4's would be sweet for some basement and driveway racing. They're very solid cars on lots of surfaces, but with their acceleration and distinct lack of weight it's like you're trying to turn a buggy on clay... there's some power sliding going on. ;)
  • Mini-z anyone? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2002 @07:20AM (#3089411)
    I've had my Mini-z for more than a year now, they are really neat. But quite expensive here in sweden, around 150 USD.
    And you can spend a fortune on extra parts...
    http://www.kyosho.com/cars/kyod01x1.html [kyosho.com]
  • Such fun (Score:4, Informative)

    by kerincosford ( 228730 ) <kerin@pullLAPLAC ... k minus math_god> on Friday March 01, 2002 @07:20AM (#3089414)
    We've got a couple of these in our office, that someone brough back from Tokyo.

    They're so much fun its just silly. Incredibly detailed too - we've got different suspension kits, bodytypes and drift tyres, so we can do powerslides around the desks. Amazing little things. Fast as hell too.

    Why are they so hard to get hold of in the UK? I'd gladly buy a raft of these.
    • Have a look on ebay - there are traders selling them for $36 and the shipping is only $8 to the UK. Most have stacks of feedback so you aren't going to get ripped off.

      Gareth
    • I am part of a Mattel sponsored group that will be working with some similar cars that are only available now in Japan at the Molson indy in Toronto, Canada this summer. See last year's track [yahoo.com] if you want. Basically people pay to race cars down it and the proceeds go to charity.

      The cars are not RC but do include capacitors [tomy.co.jp] in them so they can run for 3 or so minutes to so on a 30 second charge. Lots of fun. Come to the Molson indy to see this year's track.

      Note: I am a volunteer on this group. I am only paid in the priviledge of playing with toy cars normally available only in Japan. This was not an advertisement ;-)

  • In the UK, Robot Wars had a 'flyweight' category, which they played in a miniature version of the main arena, about a metre square. The robots were a bit bigger than matchboxes, but some had flippers and spikes. Great to watch the little things whizzing about, and it wasn't long before half of them were just running round in circles.

    I think one even got flipped right out of the arena.

  • Where do one buy these nifty things in Europe?

    It seems its all US and Japan.

  • You must be kidding? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ErikZ ( 55491 )

    45 seconds of battery charge? I guess they designed it so it wouldn't run out of power during the commericals to sell the thing.
    • from the DigiQ site:
      "Dual Ni-MH batteries allows a 15-min run time w/ a 10-min charge"
    • The Bit Char-G does charge up in 45 seconds and run for about two minutes on that charge. It's the special and tiny motor that they've got on the rear wheels that does the trick. Amazing.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You charge it for 45 seconds, and you get 2 minutes of run time. Plenty of time for a bunch of laps. At full charge the Bit is a tad uncontrolable. These things are great table top racers.
  • by cybergibbons ( 554352 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @07:39AM (#3089444) Homepage
    If you want a really cool toy - get one of these.

    Snelflight hoverfly helicopter [snelflight.co.uk]

    It's a tiny little tethered helicopter which uses a motor and propellor at the end of each blade, so it doesn't work quite the same as a normal rc helicopter, but the control box means that the controls are the same.

    Quite expensive, but very cool
  • Seiko Epson EMRoS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @07:48AM (#3089455) Journal
    Not totally unrelated but i always found this interesting: Have a look at Seiko/Epson's EMRoS or "Epson Micro Robot System" here [epson.co.jp] and here [robotics.com.hk]

    Neat little buggers, not made with pager parts as these Radio/IR Cars are, instead made with watch parts.

  • Isn't running into a salt shaker an automatic failure on most driving tests???
    I think someone needs a refresher course on the proper driving skills.
    _________________________________________________
    The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy and drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears and to gather to your bosom his wives and daughters - Genghis Khan
  • Bit Char-G Review (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Whinger ( 255233 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @07:51AM (#3089460) Homepage
    There is a review of the Bit Char-G here [the-gadgeteer.com].

    It includes some better images.
  • Man, that is expensive. I can get them for less than $22.5US. Then again I live in Hong Kong so maybe I don't have to pay VAT or something.
  • stolen from an AC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @07:57AM (#3089471) Journal
    An AC has this website [inercity.com] and has this pic of the inside of one of the cars. [intercityinc.com]

  • It looks as if these cars use may a
    Microcontroller [atmel.com], perhaps not, but definitely an H-Bridge. And H-Bridge is a specialized push pull amplifier that can be used as a Motor controller. You can order this as Quad 2 Channel Drivers, [hvwtech.com]
    In a DIP Package.
    Gee I'd love to [cornell.edu]
    Hack one of these babies like
    this fella [cornell.edu]
    did.

    But, it's really tough to find chips at those sizes.

    On, the short battery life. I'm reminded of BEAM Devices [mediaone.net] which charge up a capacitor from a solar cell, then release the energy in a spurt, then go back to charging the capacitor. Here's a cool one [solarbotics.com]
  • Kids today... (Score:1, Interesting)

    are so damn spoiled by technology. What i wouldn't give to have something like this when i was 7 years old. i guess i shouldn't complain since i did have a nintendo, but it does makes ya wonder what the toys will be like in another century and so forth. how will your great grand children spend their afternoons?
  • Mix:
    2-4 of these cars
    some Lego figures
    iMovie + digital camcorder


    Why wait two years for the sequel to "The Fast And The Furious" when you can make your own?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This could top even the classic laser pointer
    cat toy.

    Hm... image processing for feline paw
    auto-evade seriously needed.
  • Epoch (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GizmoToy ( 450886 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @09:19AM (#3089739) Homepage
    Not so long ago my girlfriend imported an Epoch Indoor Racer from Japan. While a little bigger than the cars talked about here, they're a whole lot neater. Real suspension, proportional steering, limited slip differential, and charge up in about 20 seconds. Extremely cool. It's built on a 1/42 scale, making them slightly larger than matchbox cars, but smaller than a CD.

    Also, if you're more the tinkering type, check out Tyco's Canned Heats. I have four of those things lying around in varying states of completeness. They're really easy to modify, so you can make then go faster and whatnot. Pretty fun.
  • I just bought a different brand from a duty-free shop at Tokyo/Narita airport a few months ago. It was a bit larger (about 10cm long) but it had fully digitally proportional steering and throttle with a pistol-style controller, which really comes in handy when you're trying to do tricky maneuvers. It was $45 US and came with 4 spare tires (?!). The transmitter took a 9V battery, and the charging station took 6AA's, so you wouldn't have to get an extra 120V A/C adapter. It's pretty fast, can probably keep up with a jogger. The car's battery lasts about 5 minutes, depending on your lead foot (or finger). My only complaint is that the radio range is only about 10-15 meters :( . But they have at least 4 cars that supposedly run on different frequencies so you can play with friends. I'll try to post a link when I get home tonight.

    I remember reading about R/C cars this size in magazines about 8 years ago, they were $100 - $200 then, and I'd always wanted one. I'm glad the price came down enough for me to convince my wife to spend money on a toy :) . At least my in-laws seemed to enjoy it a lot, trying to parallel-park between two saltshakers...
    • "I just bought a different brand..."

      Could you tell us the brand?
    • Well, as promised here's some more info, now that I'm home from work.

      It's made by Epoch and officially called the "Indoor Racer RC 1/43 SPEC-1. The car has a URL on the rear spoiler that points to e-kuruma.com [e-kuruma.com] , but that seems to be a car auction site.

      Unfortunately, I couldn't find a web page on it, so I guess I'll have to make my own... I threw a bunch of pictures and movies up at my webserver [dhs.org]

      Sorry for the shoddy Quicktime anims, it's kinda hard to drive while holding a camera :P

      Post if you can find any info on it!

  • Where to buy... (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheLocustNMI ( 159898 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @09:38AM (#3089816) Homepage
    Matrix Collectibles [yahoo.com]

    Toys N Joys [toysnjoys.com]

    Kicks Hobby [kicks-hobby.com]
  • It was fun for about 5 minutes, but the little bugger never wanted to go straight and the IR didn't always seem to connect solidly. Plus, the flooring you use it on has to be perfectly smooth. The kitchen tile we tried it on made the thing hop around and change direction.

    My wife is Japanese, so when we were seeing some Japanese friends in Amsterdam they had all the cool Japanese toys for their kid. Lots of fun!

    Someone mentioned RC helicopters. If you want to have a good indoor one, I've got an Eco Piccolo that works great indoors.

    Here's some random guy's site with good Piccolo pics:
    http://www.modelaviation.co.uk/heli/models/ piccolo /piccolo.htm
  • small, maybe...
    but if my real car was that "maneuverable", every light pole in town would have my name on it!

    :-)

  • The car's are neat, but those fighting Dream Force robots look cool....
    What is it the Japanes people get all the cool Robot stuff?

    link:
    Dream Force 01 [marine-monsters.com]
  • A few months back, there was a link to a tiny remote control car/rover thing with a wireless camera so you could beam images back to your computer monitor. Does anyone have a link to this? I can't find it anymore.

  • Just how do these little things run on shag? I thought so.

    You can pry my Tyco Super Rebound [tycorc.com] out of my cold, dead hands.

    The dogs hate it, but it's too big to eat.
  • ...is one cool cat toy :) Probably even better than a laser pointer.
  • Why is slashdot posting this news?

    Pixel [planetinternet.be]
    (a micro helicopter)
    is waaaaaaay cooler and a already few years old
  • I just came back from the New York Toy Fair in February, where I made note of 4 different distributors of these devices.

    The original was by Tomy, being imported as "R/C MicroSizers". The others were Chinese knock-offs (very common in the toy industry...) called "Z-Cars R/C". I think the other was called "Canned Heat, where the cars were packaged in transparent cans. Can't recall the name of the last one.

    All the cars at the toy show only had the FCC clearance for the 45 and 27Mhz frequencies, unlike the Tokyo/Tomy, which offered those plus the 57 and 35MHz. Hard to play 4-man R/C car soccer on only 2 frequencies...

    The price will come down when they hit North American shores in volume, especially with the Chinese knock-offs costing almost 1/2 as much as the Tomy models, although the $40USD/ea I paid for my originals from Hong Kong were well worth it!

  • In one of my CS classes (I think it was AI but memory is such a flimsy thing) we watched a video on some crazy Japanese micro cars. These things were less than 1 centimeter in length. The wheels were so small that if you lubricated the axels it would cause them to bind. They looked pretty cool darting around on a table. You could really bother your cats with one. Didn't work too well on carpet though....
  • Tomy is a strange company - they used to sell quite a few "neat" products here in the States back in the 80's (Omnibot robot line, Air Jammer vehicles) - but lately all you can find are "toddler" toys. It is interesting that they (if it is the same company - Tomica=Tomy?) are selling these small racers now.

    What is more interesting is the fact that Tomy made, in a limited silver-plated edition, given only to top executives (or some other such), an "ultra-tiny" (like, about the diameter of a quarter and a couple of inches tall) programmable "omnibot" (it was of the Omnibot line - just not available to general public). Very, very few of these robots were made. I have only seen one come up for auction on Ebay - it went for several thousand dollars, IIRC. These robots were made and given out in the early-to-mid 1980's.

    The tech behind all of this has a long history - it is by no means "new"...
    • Tomy is a strange company - they used to sell quite a few "neat" products here in the States back in the 80's


      Yeah, no kidding. I have in my possession a Tomy "Tinkle Tot", which is a naked little plastic squeeze doll about the size of a hackeysack with an anatomically incorrect "hole" right where you're thinking. From the package:

      "From a fun-filled island come the Tinkle Tots. They swim in the sea, hide in the jungle and when you fill them with water and squeze them, watch what they do!"

      I saw it in the dollar store and had to buy it otherwise nobody would believe me. Truly the strangest toy I've ever seen.

      DoC
      "Pee is not a toy"!

  • by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Friday March 01, 2002 @03:17PM (#3093397) Homepage Journal
    Humor, not to be taken seriously

    Imagine this: The Pentagon offers to transport, arm, and fuel home-built drone aircraft to fly against Al Qaeda. Your aircraft must meet the following requirements:
    • On-board GPS
    • On-board video capability
    • Must be controlled via a soon-to-be-built wireless IP network in (let's say Somalia)
    • 500-pound payload
    From the comfort of your home, you can patrol your Pentagon-assigned territory, and engage targets as designated by the JSTARS targeting system.

    I figure the Pentagon can probably turn a profit by charging fees as they provide what is essentially the world's most realistic flight simulator. As an added bonus, they could sell the TV rights to the on-board video. Wouldn't it be fun to watch "The World's Most Terrified Terrorists"? Imagine what the MIT folks could build for this mission!

    I think the most ironic part of the whole idea is that it turns the tables on the bad guys. Under this scenario, their most terrfying time of day would be when school gets out in the US. "Oh no! Schools out! Everyone head for the caves!"

    What a neat application for embedded Linux.
  • I can't believe they would steal cars from Smurfs then sell them to people. They can't get away with this!
  • One of the most thoughtful features (IMHO) in the Bit Char-G is that there is a lever under the car that you can use to "trim" the front wheel alignment. This really helps the car go straight. Also some word of advice on motors. There are four motors for the Bit Char-G. The MicroBee 1.0, 2.2 and 2.6. (I say 4 motors because the 2.2 is available in two part numbers. GS-01 as the stock motor in a kit and S-04 as an addon) The Japanese packaging was somewhat ambiguous as to what the numbers meant. When my friend and I bought one each, we soon learned that it correlates to speed, with 2.6 being the fastest. If you want to race, I obviously recommend the 2.6. I personally have a 2.2, and I frequently find myself spinning out the car. On the other hand, my friend's 1.0 is just the right speed to navigate on smaller desks and ad-hoc obstacle courses. BTW, I landed mine for US$15 whle I was in Japan. ;) Yoshi
  • Think a program could be hacked out so that the DigiQ can be controlled by a Visor or other infrared device? Are there any really small, good quality infrared controllers?

    Thanks,

    Spaco
  • Smaller, faster, cooler. It's all great, but the kind of innovation I'd have to see for it to get out of the prototype stage is either better batteries, or more efficient devices that will run for more than 5 minutes.

    Not so much a problem with cars, but with RC helicopters and such, it's not so good when the batteries just die.

    And what about practical applications? RCToys.com sells at least one of their products as something that can actually have industrial applications. But with just 5-6 minutes of uptime, I can't see many practical uses. I'll be impressed if they come up with something that can go for 20-40 minutes without recharging. Maybe fuel cells will solve this.

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