Battling robots – an interesting future?

I am not sure how many people remember Rock em Sock em and all their variants. Here is a version of the original advert for them.

There were small figures connected to mechanical rods with thumb press buttons. You could move them back and forth and side to side with the aim to punch and hit the chin of the other bot, causing their head to pop up into the air.
I did not have this version, but I did have a human shaped boxing set. They were more free moving not stuck in a ring and had a counter of how many hits they had taken.
All in all they were great fun.
Which is why I know I would love to have a go on the Robot Combat League. I just happened to bump into this channel hoping. I initially thought it was Robot Wars. Which had arena combat between very differing radio controlled wheeled vehicles carrying big hammers and circular saws.
It turned out to be something different. A giant game of Rockem Sockem.
In Robot Combat league a team of 2 people control each robot device. One moves back forward and side to side. The other wears a rig that takes their arm movements to make the bot punch.
The movement around is a bit odd as the robot is not really free standing. The legs are fairly cosmetic as the bot is held of a large frame. The punching then is based on timing and targeting. Each bot is designed to look different and have a different style to it, but they are all rigged with sensors for pyrotechnics so lots of sparks fly when a good hit is made. That was all good but could obviously get a bit samey. It then seemed that the robots were actually able to damage one another as one bot swung in the arm of another, broke a hydraulic line and the robot was disabled and left dripping robot blood onto the arena floor for the cheering and jeering audience.
All very exciting blended reality fighting.
This is of course what happens in the film Real Steel. Which is one potential future of combat to consider.
The fact these are just engineered puppets, just like the toy of the 60’s, put a human element into the fight. It is people wanting to win against other people. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if we were able to have a fully free standing robot able to accept all the subtleties of human movement and how we would be able to use those in Choi Kwang Do as a training aid 🙂 Of course there is one problem to consider though in mirroring human movement. If a person makes contact with something or someone during a technique that technique and where they land and what comes next flows from the situation. The return impact is important. Punching into the air means that after contact you and the robot are no longer in synch. Your fist follows through, theirs stops on the armour of the other one. Now giving you haptic feedback to get you to feel what has happened would be a good start, but of course then you will be shoved around pushed etc so why have the robot at all 😉
The real excitement will be to have suitable fighting intelligence. One that can free form fight against another bot. Then of course we find ourselves approaching Asimov’s territory and robot rights. Is it ok to watch robots destroy one another as opposed to remote control machines.
There is no doubt though this phase of robot combat is an interesting one to watch. I am just of to get the welding kit out 🙂
Or we could just build it in minecraft – look at this 🙂

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