Humanoid Robots Fight WWF Style at Japan’s ROBO-ONE

Controller of GAROO wins the tournament – and $12,000 – for the second year in a row

It’s kind of like Rock ‘Em Sock ’Em meets the movie Real Steel. ROBO-ONE is a tournament that pits little humanoid robots resembling bots from a toy store in a battle for gladiator supremacy – and $12,000. Yep, it’s all fun and games until tournament curators put up that kind of money, and one gargantuan trophy.

This year’s battle for gladiator glory was between Gargoyle Mini and last year’s champion GAROO. You won’t see any acrobatic leaps and deft karate chops to the neck, but more of a move in and apply a strategic nudge. That’s what it takes (at 1:34) for GAROO to knock down the fearsome Gargoyle Mini (can you be fearsome with “Mini” in your name?).

The tournament is run by Robots Dreams and took place in Kawasaki, Japan. Befitting a Japanese gladiator fight-for-all, the robots move with a distinct martial arts-like style which is fun to watch. The tournament has been around for some time, begun in 2002 and has since evolved to include a sizable number of sub-competitions like the skills competition based on speed, the ability to open a door or climb a flight of stairs. If you can’t get enough of these bloodthirsty robots, check out the array of videos from last year’s competition.

The robots are RC servo-controlled, so it’s not all about building the best robot. This year’s back-to-back winner obviously has some skills. But Robots Dreams should be a little careful when they say, “…I’m sure that back in 2002 no one ever imagined that the same builder would win the title twice in a row, and that the competitor that did would be a woman,” lest she turn her strategic nudging skills upon them.

[image credits: Robots Dreams]

images: Robots Dreams
video: Robots Dreams

Peter Murray
Peter Murray
Peter Murray was born in Boston in 1973. He earned a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore studying gene expression in the neocortex. Following his dissertation work he spent three years as a post-doctoral fellow at the same university studying brain mechanisms of pain and motor control. He completed a collection of short stories in 2010 and has been writing for Singularity Hub since March 2011.
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