Like so many epic robot battles, this one began in Tokyo, Japan. Pairs of robots stepped into a padded ring to fight, each vying for the chance to knock over and trounce their opponent. Some punched, some pushed, some just tried to stay on their feet. In the end, only one bot remained to be crowned champion of the carnge. Is the Tokyo skyline irrevocably damaged? Did millions perish in the mechanical melee? No, not this time. All the fighting robots were under one meter in height and were made from kits produced by the Kondo company who sponsored the second year of this open competition called Kondo Battle.
Kondo kits are fairly simple for robot enthusiasts, though some may contain more than a hundred individual parts. For the Kondo Battle, each robot was humanoid in shape, but the wide range of available parts allowed for a good variation in size and strategy. I was impressed by the relative steady movement the gyros and stabilizers could produce, especially during fights where a bot managed to defeat an opponent without taking its own tumble. Check out an overview of the intense robot-on-robot action in this news brief from IDG news services:
With the RoboGames coming to San Francisco next month (stay tuned to Singularity Hub for news and coverage), the Kondo Battle was a good preview of some of the models and fighting styles that will be used. In most robot fights, victory is equally dependent on the controller as on the robot itself. Kondo Battle, however, showed at least one robot (the wonderfully named Black Tiger Neo) that used sensors and preprogrammed movements to guide its own actions. Though the bot didn't finish first, it held its own. The open class winner was Gargoil, who trounced Armdoll in the final round. The winning strategy: big feet, tall bot, scythe like hands, and a fencer's lunge to knock over the competition. Check it out:
In the grand scheme of things, toy robot battles may not seem like the most Earth-shattering of news. The robots of the future, however, will be built by those researchers whose enthusiasm is sparked today. I also hope that the competition will breed a wide-spread interest in robotics as a hobby. The more people who know and understand these mechanical devices, the more likely we will use them responsibly and safely. And it gives humans a fighting chance in case the robots rise up to take control. Er...I mean, I welcome our new robot overlords. All Hail Gargoil!