Some amateur robots competitions are about fine tuning your creations to show off your engineering prowess. Others are just about having a good time. At the recent Wonderful Robot Carnival (“Wandahoo Robotto Carnivalu“) in Tokyo, a dozen small humanoid bots pushed and prodded each other in a chaotic melee to see who could be the last one standing in the ring. The rules were simple: 1) Survive, 2)Keep your opponents from accomplishing rule number 1. With these basic guidelines, humans remotely controlled their pint-sized minions in an event that quickly devolved into a fantastic farce of force. Competitors struggled to eliminate their opponents by pushing them off the 3×3 grid of mats, and struggled even harder to stay upright while tripping over each other. A great display of robotic martial skills? No. A hilarious competition full of Three-Stooges like antics? You bet. Check out the Robot Rumble in the video below. Why is there a dog-bot running around? Because it’s awesome. Stop asking questions and just enjoy the ride.
There’s a lot going on in this match, but not many eliminations at first. Skip to about five minutes into the clip to see the judge’s solution: making the grid smaller.
This chaotic melee takes forever to finish. Yet, as you can tell from the happy faces and constant laughter among the competitors and spectators, the Rumble was a success. This was an event for all the robot designers out there that grew up on Transformers cartoons and Robotech manga. We’re not able to have epic space battles full of anthropomorphic metal heroes yet, but we can still pretend by placing our RC bots on a mat and having them duke it out. Very satisfying.
The rest of the Wonderful Robot Carnival is a mixture of the fun and the functional. Robots and their masters competed in a 2 meter dash, a weird version of soccer involving giant dice, plastic bottle arranging, team cube stacking, and, of course, one on one wrestling matches. I’ve included clips from the dash and the dice game for you below. Other events, and official full length coverage of the Rumble, can be found on the “Wandahoo” UStream channel.
Sponsored by the Japan Standard Class Robot Community (JSRC), Wonderful Robot Carnival is an annual event with a five year history of bringing amateurs together for some light hearted competition. Is it as revered as RoboCup, RoboGames, or RoboOne? Not as far as I can tell, but I do think it adds something valuable to the amateur robotics circuit. There will be few true innovations that are developed in this level of engineering. The most likely benefit of these competitions is getting people interested in robotics, and raising a new generation of scientists that love playing with bots. In that manner, Wonderful Robot Carnival is as big a success as any of the more serious tournaments out there. Having fun is a major reason why people do this. More power to the JSRC for recognizing that and letting us battle our bots for fun. What a “wandahoo robotto” world we live in.
[screen capture credit: Robots-Dreams]
[image credits: JSRC]