Watch These Tiny, Lightning-Fast Sumo Robots Fight in the Ring

Friday, 23 June 2017 - 11:33AM
Technology
Robotics
Friday, 23 June 2017 - 11:33AM
Watch These Tiny, Lightning-Fast Sumo Robots Fight in the Ring
Image credit: Robert McGregor
All martial arts—even video games and fights between giant car-crushing robots—are as much about mental acuity as they are physical prowess. It's not just about being the strongest, it's about making a careful use of space, predicting an opponent's moves, and reacting accordingly to turn the situation to your advantage.

This is nowhere more apparent that in robot sumo wrestling matches. A new video from Robert McGregor gives an insight into this unique sport that's gaining popularity in Japan. Compiling several years of footage from various tournaments and matches, McGregor shows how these sumo matches, in which human operators remotely control tiny, speedy battling robots, clash over and over to ring-out their competition.



These matches serve as a glimpse of the core element of sumo, which is more about controlling an opponent than it is about trying to physically damage them. In this context, this means that the most successful robots aren't the biggest or the baddest, but rather the fastest (or most clever).

Most of the matches in this video last only a few seconds, and those rare few fights that go on for longer are tense affairs, with competitors sizing each other up and negotiating for space before a brief, exhilarating moment of genuine action. The winner here is the combatant who can think the quickest, and the robot that proves the most versatile when navigating the ring.

Japan has plenty of similar robot fighting leagues, but where others might rely on AI programming, here it all comes down to reflexes and training for human operators.
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