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Robotics Build Entertainment

Robot SmackDowns Wants To Bring Robot Death Matches To an Arena Near You 82

Business Insider profiles Andrew Stroup, Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein, who are trying to get off the ground a robot competition league, called Robot SmackDowns. The idea, as you might guess from the name, is to showcase violence and drama to draw on the crowd-appeal of wrestling, NASCAR, and monster truck rallies: this is definitely not Dean Kamen's FIRST — it's giant mechanical beasts shooting at and otherwise trying to destroy each other. And it's not quite right to call them robots in the usual sense; they're more like mecha: "In a MegaBots battle, a two-member team sits inside the bot's upper torso, where the controls systems are housed. Although the co-founders assure me that the pilot and gunner are well protected inside, the situation presents a heightened suspense. Each 15,000-pound robot is equipped with six-inch cannons inside its arms that fire paint-filled missiles and cannon balls at 120 miles per hour. Good aim can cause enough damage to jam its opponent's weapons system or shoot off a limb." They'll be launching a Kickstarter campaign soon; according to the article, "Assuming it raises enough money to build a fleet, [the company's] plan is to take the bots on the road. They will tour the country, face off in epic battles against other MegaBots, and build a fan base. Stroup says (without giving specifics) networks have reached out and will closely watch how MegaBot, Inc.'s upcoming Kickstarter campaign performs. The possibilities for distribution seem endless, though the team is tight-lipped about the exact direction it's headed."
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Robot SmackDowns Wants To Bring Robot Death Matches To an Arena Near You

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  • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @06:06PM (#48177885) Journal

    everyone wants a fighting robot league...it's like jetpacks, hover boards, and other stuff featured in sci fi depictions of "the future"

    fighting robots are awesome...this is not in dispute...

    here are the 3 most salient factors as to when we will have a fighting robots league:

    1. technology...especially materials science...we've gotten to the point conceptually that we can model any form of robot, but it's making the materials stand the stress, and batteries to power it...those are our limitations now

    2. $$$...fighting robots are expensive...a league needs money

    3. competition > PR...they have to be the opposite of MLS or WWE...this has to be done right and not over marketed or over simplified (how it can go wrong: something like the random narrator voice in Mythbusters)

    this is your formula for a robot fighting league

  • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @06:13PM (#48177905)

    I'm torn between "We spared no expense" and "God help us, we're in the hands of engineers".

    Are these the first steps toward the wars of the future [imdb.com]?

  • In what sense can an armed and armored mechanical vehicle operated by a human pilot and human gunner be termed a "robot"?

    Such things were new in France a century ago.

  • seems like a ripoff of Robot Combat League that was on Sci-fi -1-2 years back

    • by captjc ( 453680 )

      1-2 years? This was going on for a while. I remember watching Battle Bots on Comedy Central (Vlad The Impaler FTW) back around 2004. There was on on the Discovery Channel around the same time as well (Robotica, I think?), each with all types of merchandising behind it. Hell, Robot Wars was started in the early-mid 90's

  • The Robot Combat League [syfy.com] was fairly interesting given the limitations of the machinery that they are using.

    The technology of Robot Smack Downs would have to surpass that of the Robot Combat League by a pretty large margin before it became half decent, and I don't see that happening any time soon.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @06:43PM (#48178045)
    Slapping some armour and an axe onto an RC car doesn't make it a robot; it is just an RC car with anger management issues. For a real robot battle the robots should be fully autonomous; they enter the ring, are activated, and have at each other. I suspect that the first generation would mostly just go straight into a corner and hack at the wall. But with enough prise money AI routines would start to creep in and then it could get interesting. I would love to see them adapt to damage, or take advantage of their opponent's damage.

    The only sad part would be if this is where genuine AI was born.
  • No battlebots tag (Score:4, Informative)

    by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Saturday October 18, 2014 @06:48PM (#48178079) Homepage Journal

    This is how you know the current site demographic is just too young.

  • Piloted? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dereck1701 ( 1922824 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @06:49PM (#48178087)

    It looks interesting, but why in the world are they piloted mechs? Remote control them with a simulated cockpit so you don't have to make a bunch of convoluted rules so no one is injured. If things take off and the tech improves you can also ramp things up from a simple paintball game type setup to bots that can actually inflict damage.

    • It looks interesting, but why in the world are they piloted mechs? Remote control them with a simulated cockpit so you don't have to make a bunch of convoluted rules so no one is injured. If things take off and the tech improves you can also ramp things up from a simple paintball game type setup to bots that can actually inflict damage.

      Because the mechs will likely be more valuable than the pilots. What better way to get them to be gentle than to stick them in the damned mech itself.

    • The closest thing to what you're describing was a 2013 SciFi series called http://www.syfy.com/robotcombatleague [syfy.com].

      They were hydraulically powered humanoid robots that beat on each other until either one of them stopped functioning or it went to the judges' decision.

      • The closest thing to what you're describing was a 2013 SciFi series called http://www.syfy.com/robotcombatleague [syfy.com].

        They were hydraulically powered humanoid robots that beat on each other until either one of them stopped functioning or it went to the judges' decision.

        I just watched some highlights and man, is that lame. The robots have legs, and the legs move like they're walking, but the robots are actually just stuck on the end of big metal poles that move them around the ring.

        I understand that technology isn't to the point where a bipedal robot can balance itself while executing complex movements, let alone while something else is trying to knock it down. But what they have there is stupid enough that they just shouldn't have bothered.

      • Hopefully this setup won't be as cheesy as Robot Combat League, while I didn't watch the show from the clips I've seen it was like a big version of "Rockem Sockem Robots, with fake sparks & some manufactured damage instead of a spring loaded head. While it sounds like this competition will have its own simulated damage hopefully it will be a lot more realistic and more quantifiable than the random whaling that seemed to be RCL.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @07:17PM (#48178181) Journal

    Robot death matches won't really be interesting until they become self-aware, and they realize we're having them kill each other for our amusement.

    • Robot death matches won't really be interesting until they become self-aware, and they realize we're having them kill each other for our amusement.

      If by interesting you mean a self-aware state that results in them realizing we humans are much more entertaining of a target, well...yeah, have fun.

      • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
        interesting in the chinese sense of the term
        • If you're referring to the "Chinese curse" "may you live in interesting times" you might want to look up its etymology. Apparently here has never been a similar widely used saying in Chinese history, our wide usage of it in the US appears to date back to Robert Kennedy using it in a speech. No one seems to be quite sure where he got it from.

    • Can't wait until we start creating self-aware artificial intelligences, so we can vivisect them then terminate them when we're done.
  • by toygeek ( 473120 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @07:30PM (#48178233) Homepage Journal

    It was very entertaining, and fun to see people come up with brilliant (and not so brilliant) solutions.

  • by qeveren ( 318805 ) on Saturday October 18, 2014 @07:59PM (#48178309)

    That's a terrible name. What are they, fourteen?

    • by Nyder ( 754090 )

      That's a terrible name. What are they, fourteen?

      Seems like they are just stealing it from Friday Night Smackdown, a WWE show.

      I hope they have deep pockets, because I don't think WWE will let Smackdown be used without a fight.

  • Anybody else remember this game? Sounds alot like it.
    • by toygeek ( 473120 )

      Played this game a LOT when I was a teenager. Hopefully someone doesn't actually brain dump themselves into a bot!

    • by klashn ( 1323433 )
      Loved this game and I was just about to make your exact post :)
  • Somebody watched Robot Jox [youtube.com] too many times.

  • Battlebots was boring after the first season. This sounds more like Robot Jox or real-life Mechwarrior with restricted weaponry. Remember that movie? Yeah... guess I'm old now. Screw it, giant robots with humans in them shooting and beating the s**t out of each other sounds pretty cool to me! What the hell are you going to power it with though?

  • ... Robot Wars (as in the British television series back in the late 90s), except with people inside? I thought that was a pretty good show, but then, I was a teenager at the time, so of course I would think that.

  • War has become too destructive of lives, yet we can't seem to stop. Let's go back to those naval dreadnaughts of WWI and WWII; let them have great battles offshore, where people could watch, only remote/robotically controlled.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo. - Andy Finkel, computer guy

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