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Martial Arts Robots 301

curmudgeous writes "Japanese tech firms are making waves with robots trained to perform martial arts moves." On one hand, this is largely just a novelty, but on the other, robots capable of doing these moves are many steps closer to being able to move around in real world environments. But mostly, sumo stomping robots look cool.
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Martial Arts Robots

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  • by omnirealm ( 244599 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @03:32PM (#7201312) Homepage
    I for one welcome our new kung-fu robotic overlords!
    • I, for one, am sick of this damn joke.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Kung-fu is Chinese, your insensitive clod!

      You're now a target for the new Japanese ninja robots. Have a nice day.
    • Funny, for once, as it may be the closest to the truth we've seen so far. Will we be over-run by clusters of PDAs? Probably not. But ninja robots... *powered* by clusters of PDAs? Yikes!
    • No no no...

      Combine it with this earlier story:

      Monkeys Control Robotic Arm With Brain Implants [washingtonpost.com]

      I, for one, welcome our new monkey-mind-controlled kung-fu robotic overlords!


    • Man, don't listen to the moderators. Thats so funny I almost cryed. Too bad the joke is "tired" to the moderators, this is one time it was actually funny.
    • So how come no one has mentioned yet that having humanoid-shaped robots going around killing people (which after all is what 'martial arts' is all about) is the foundation of the "Terminator" movie series?
    • Re:I for one... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Simonetta ( 207550 )
      Really, now...

      Nobody, not even the Japanese (even at their most paranoid moments worrying about gaijin invaders 'taking over') needs a robot that does martial arts moves. Not even as a demostration of programming and manufacturing skills. This is stupid.

      The Japanese have a little game called 'let's do some silly little thing and watch how pissed off the stupid gaijin get over nothing at all'. They'll something seemingly innocent like making Little Black Sambo dolls for children and then pretend t
    • Re:I for one... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Simonetta ( 207550 )
      If these Japanese tech firms were serious about showing off what their robots can do, then they would build a robot that find and disarm abandoned land mines in third-world farming areas.

      Thousands of people are maimed each year from these millions of little bombs scattered throughout the countryside.

      By producing millions of these robots to disarm land mines and then sending them freely to be used in the third world, the Japanese would take the moral high ground from everybody for the next centur

  • So who wants to take bets on who turns us into pets first: The kung-Fu Robots or the Dolphins with Thumbs [theonion.com].
  • I think it's interesting that the mechanical challenges are no longer the stumbling block. It's now AI.
    • Flexibility? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bilbo ( 7015 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @03:42PM (#7201418) Homepage
      > interesting that the mechanical challenges are no longer the stumbling block.

      Not so fast... Remember that these robots are still operating in highly controlled environments, performing a small number of carefully scripted and highly constrained maneuvers. Granted, these are no small feat, but they are still a long way from navigating complex and unpredictable environments -- something humans and other "biologicals" do all the time without even thinking.

      Again, these robots have made huge strides (pun intended), but they have a long way to go before they can go out and take a stroll through a field or walk down a busy city sidewalk in traffic.

      • Fuzzy logic will be key in making this happen. Martial arts often require precise movements in certain patterns when moves are being displayed. I think that robots will be able to perform this very well, more perfect than humans in a sense. In real practical world use, it takes split second timing to decide what the next move should be in order to defend or attack in various combinations. Blend this in with the many styles (algorithms) and you have quite a bit of programming. It could give "programming
        • "Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart, he dreams himself your master."

          Commissioner Pravin Lal, UN Declaration of Rights.

      • but they have a long way to go before they can go out and take a stroll through a field or walk down a busy city sidewalk in traffic
        All it takes is adding a very large speaker to the Sumo robot's head and repeating a tiny sound-byte from The Princess Bride: "EVERYBODY MOVE!!!!!"

        (oh yes, and bring-on the "friggin laser" comments since I mentioned its "head")
    • Interesting, but not surpricing. Humans have been building machines for several thousand years and gotten very good at it. We have dabbled in AI for less than a century, and hasn't really gotten anywhere yet. The AI has so far always been the stumbling block as far as robots and autonoms go.

      The principle behind how things move are well known - the wheel and the lever is inventions which origins are lost in the mist of time. Lifelike movements are nothing new either - in 1769 Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen pr

    • The problem is in AI, but mostly because the assumption is that mechanical problems can and should be overcome by coding, instead of by mechanical means.

      Step back a moment. Most of these builders view the mechanical hulk of the robot as just a platform that runs a program. The problem is that most AI control code is developed to approximate based on whatever model is held in the AI about the physical state of the robot. How many AI coders know about kinematics? How about the various sensor's precision

  • the big W (Score:3, Funny)

    by syle ( 638903 ) * <syle@NosPam.waygate.org> on Monday October 13, 2003 @03:33PM (#7201326) Homepage
    Let me save you the trouble of asking.

    The answer is, "Because they can."

  • Just a novelty? What about the applications of such robots in real-world environments. Now big, mean, ugly robots won't be so prone to bullying smaller robots because there will always be the possibility that the smaller one may be a Ninjabot.
  • Who cares about the real world? Having robots capable of doing martial arts means we're much closer to having 5-story tall robots fighting over the future of Tokyo! (and various other classic anime scenarios)
  • a beowulf cluster of Wireless Borg Monkeys [washingtonpost.com] and you'll have some /real/ fun.
  • Absolutely! (Score:5, Funny)

    by NerveGas ( 168686 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @03:34PM (#7201338)
    robots capable of doing these moves are many steps closer to being able to move around in real world environments.

    I absolutely agree. I've said for ages that a robot just can't usefully navigate a house without being able to do a good roundhouse-kick, preferably to a height of 5.5 feet. Even then, without a good iron-palm strike, it's not going to have problems.

  • Researchers would focus on legalizing cock fights and making robots to clean my house.
  • by Doesn't_Comment_Code ( 692510 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @03:35PM (#7201345)
    This is the kind of thing you read about after it's too late.

    I've seen this in a lot of bad movies. Instead of making nice robots that get your coffee, or make your bed, someone makes a killer robot. But they never intended for it to kill. They just wanted to prove the critics wrong... plus the little fella is cute.

    Then they multiply and the world is laid waste. Who hasn't seen that scenario played out?

    Seriously, who makes robots that know karate? Oh well, most lessons are learned after its too late.
  • Personally, I can't believe a community such as Slashdot could get so excited over such old news.

    Johnny Sokko [dalekempire.com]
  • Marital Arts. Now that would have been something to get, er, excited about.

    "Honey, could you come here? I need a lube job."

    Ok, even robots get cranky and whine I guess, but they whine about the right things.

  • Remember Ice Pirates [imdb.com]? They had some kind of funny kung fu robots in that film. The robots had a bad habit of pulling out the lynch pin in their solar plexus area and then falling into many pieces.
  • It would be pretty cool to have one if you could put in on your property and it would defend it. Of course, I can smell the lawsuit coming when it puts the neigbor's kid in a rear naked choke because the kid comes over the fence to get his ball.
  • I say t-minus five years until some rich guy becomes a patron for this technology only because he wants his very own Spruce Lee.

  • Terminator (1,2,3), Matrix (1,2,3), Westworld/Futureworld: When are we going to recognize that teaching robots violent behavior without a thoroughly tested functional Asimov chip is a BAD thing? (And I'm not talking about those MS Asimov/Palladium chips either. My 7 year old nephew hacked those over a weekend.)

    Oh, great. Now the Aibo has my nunchucks and the Roomba is attacking me Deadly Venoms Poison Toad Style!

  • where are the movies? The article says that one of these little bassards can do *backflips. That's what I want to see. Anyone got vid-clips of this?
  • We are also many steps closer to One Must Fall 2097. Martial arts robots duking it out in grueling tournaments, winner take all. It's gonna be awesome.
  • ROBOT (Score:4, Funny)

    by Doomrat ( 615771 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @03:43PM (#7201423) Homepage

    Elsewhere a conversation with the robot AI has been posted.

    Interviewer: Robot, how would you approach the task of displacing a large obstacle?
    Robot: ROBOT KICK.
    Interviewer: I see, and how about helping an old lady across the road?
    Robot: ROBOT KICK.
    Interviewer: Tending to a sick puppy?
    Interviewer: Riiiiiiight.

    This is why you don't mix AI and kicking. Duh.

  • I searched for, and found pictures of the robot that they say can do flips. An MPEG would be nice, but oh well.
  • Kill Bill : part robot

    get it?


  • by gilgongo ( 57446 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @03:46PM (#7201446) Homepage Journal
    I see the article says "HOAP-2 is designed as an aid to robotics research and therefore runs on open source, Linux-based software."

    "therefore runs" is an interesting choice of words by the writer. Does it imply that Linux now has a reputation as a scientifically-orientated OS?

    • Does it imply that Linux now has a reputation as a scientifically-orientated OS?

      well, it's safe to say it's not going to get a reputation as a gramatically-oriented OS...
    • While Linux certainly does, in some respects, hold more of the share of scientific computing than some other OSes, I think what it really implies is that Linux has become a neat buzzword that clueless journalists use to sound smart.

      If you're a Linux fan, don't complain though, PHBs looooove vacuous buzzwords that they find in articles and trade journals. It's how technology moves in the business world.

    • "Does it imply that Linux now has a reputation as a scientifically-orientated OS?

      No, what it implies is that in the interest of enabling research to continue and be open - an OS without legal licensing issues, or closed proprietary code was chosen. This allows for researches to expand upon, modify and use code that may have been developed on another project...

      What about a CVS repository for code and apps that run on linus for the purpose of driving humanoid like robots.

      how bout compiling in "Bipedal amb
    • Linux is very big in the robotics world. If you're going to make a toy for the consumer, putting windows on it would arguably be easier for them to do stuff on it. However if you want the robotics community to easily tie into it, linux is the way to go.
  • "Now the only thing left to do is program the enemy recognition system. That's the CCD imager and decision chip that decides whether the robot defends you or butterfly kick's your shoulders off. Right now it's a little less than 60% accurate. But hey, we're making progress, and we've got plenty of research assistants left."
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) * <.teamhasnoi. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Monday October 13, 2003 @03:48PM (#7201467) Journal
    Hi, this site is all about ninjas robots, REAL NINJA ROBOTS. This site is awesome. My name is Robert and I can't stop thinking about ninja robots. These guys are cool; and by cool, I mean totally sweet.


    1. Ninja robots are mammals (robot mammals, duh).
    2. Ninja robots fight ALL the time.
    3. The purpose of the ninja robot is to flip out and kill people.

    Weapons and gear:

    Ninja robot Sword
    Ninja robot Stars
    Ninja robot Outfit and Chrome Polish


    Ninja robots can kill anyone they want! Ninja robots cut off heads ALL the time and don't even think twice about it. These robots are so crazy and awesome that they flip out ALL the time. I heard that there was this ninja robot who was eating at a diner. And when some dude dropped a spoon the ninja robot killed the whole town. My friend Mark said that he saw a ninja robot totally uppercut some kid just because the kid opened a window.

    And that's what I call REAL Ultimate Power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If you don't believe that ninja robots have REAL Ultimate Power you better get a life right now or they will chop your head off!!! It's an easy choice, if you ask me.

    Ninja robots are sooooooooooo sweet that I want to crap my pants. I can't believe it sometimes, but I feel it inside my heart. These guys are totally awesome and that's a fact. Ninja robots are fast, smooth, cool, strong, powerful, and sweet. I can't wait to start yoga next year. I love ninja robots with all of my body (including my pee pee).

    Q and A:.

    Q: Why is everyone so obsessed about ninja robots?

    A: Ninja robots are the ultimate paradox. On the one hand they don't give a crap, but on the other hand, ninja robots are very careful and precise.

    Q: I heard that ninja robots are always cruel or mean. What's their problem?

    A: Whoever told you that is a total liar. Just like other robot mammals, ninja robots can be mean OR totally awesome.

    Q: What do ninja robots do when they're not cutting off heads or flipping out?

    A: Most of their free time is spent flying, but sometime they stab. (Ask Mark if you don't believe me.)

  • fsck you! (Score:3, Funny)

    by orthogonal ( 588627 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @03:49PM (#7201476) Journal
    Hey Slashdot wimps!

    Here's your chance to get back at all the bullies who harassed and mocked you!

    With a bodyguard that runs linux!
    • Hey! Bullies! Fear the robot that comes up to your kneecap!
    • Here's your chance to get back at all the bullies who harassed and mocked you!

      Of course you can still get your ass kicked since you just had to install that CVS nightly of Karate 1.3a.

  • Yeah, its a nice pick and shows off a lot of skill (getting a little robot to balance on one leg from a standing position is no simple feat).

    But how quickly does it do this? I didn't see any video and AFAIK these little robots move slow as if they were doing tai-chi. It's still very cool but any sort of real-world app (say playing ping-pong, making its way through city traffic, making me a cup of coffee) would require more responsive reflexes.

    Maybe it's just an issue of processing power or mechanical ab
  • Interesting... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by _ph1ux_ ( 216706 )
    I was just reading about these robots in Popular Science - (febuary 2003) where they were talking about this robot in the pic (HOAP) and others like the Honda Asimo...

    They were talking about the differing perspectives between japanese robots and US ones - where the japanese are going after the humanoid approach and the US robots tend to be designed around a specific task.

    There was a quote from Joe Engelberger "The Father of Industrial Robotics": "Robots dont need a mind of their own" and he states that Ro
  • While Robot Soccer competitions are neat they are a little slow (read "boring"). Now we can have Robot Martial Arts tournements. Much more fun. Much more competitive. "I knocked your block off."

    And for those that remember the distant past imagine a robot saying "I know kungfu" via a Votrax chip. Be nice to have a WAV of that.
  • So, if your kung-fu robot whacks intruders [guardian.co.uk] who break into your residence, does it go on trial instead of you?
  • by Fastball ( 91927 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @03:56PM (#7201545) Journal
    If you work in a firearms store, and someone comes in and asks for a phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range, RUN! Don't call the authorities! Don't reason with it! RUN!

    Same goes if someone ask you for your clothes, boots, and motorcycle.

  • Before I even looked at the pics, I had one thing in mind: a whole new way to play "Virtua Fighter 5".

    C'mon, you KNOW that's what they'll do first.
  • wow (Score:3, Funny)

    by Stalemate ( 105992 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @03:58PM (#7201560)
    we're really asking for it now, aren't we?
  • Can they do these stunts in a variable cross-wind? On uneven terrain?

    It does bring that whole RoboCop thing into perspective, though, doesn't it?

  • A kung-fu fight seen with a beowolf cluster of these things!
  • bow before the power of the ninja robots!
  • You mean to say keanu reeves was not a robot and was actually a human ? I'll be damned.
  • Look up the word "fujitsu" in a japanese-english dictionary (there are a few online) and see what it means! You may never buy another fujitsu brand drive again...

    Okay, okay mod me as off-topic if you want to but I think the message is kind of nerd/geek relevant regardless of relevance to the story.

    I don't care about a sumo robot. I want one that will massage my feet, back and other places, make me dinner, do my laundry and all that stuff. THAT's what a robot is for... women are too hard to deal with.
  • I submitted this and got it posted months and months ago.. I'm too lazy to go back and find the story though. tsk tsk tsk
  • That's just what I need. A toaster that can kick my ass.
  • Tune in every Wed. on WRVU [wrvu.org] 8-10 p.m. CST. and don't forget to vote [geocities.com] on this week's burning question: Who would win in a fight between the Hamburlgar [geocities.com] and Evil Zombie Dave Thomas [geocities.com]?

    In most of the world there's no such thing as a doggie bag. -- Prof. Kelly Brownell
  • & only 1 rated >3 so far. Have /.ers used up the Worlds resources of overload/beowulf/soviet/profit jokes?
  • Seems like we need to get these guys together with these guys [atr.co.jp].
  • by Torgo's Pizza ( 547926 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @04:16PM (#7201702) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if the robot makers are using the "Karate Kid" method of training. You know, do menial jobs which then translate to super kung-fu moves.

    Mr. Miyagi: Weld the car.

    Robot: Weld the car.

    Mr. Miyagi: Power sand the deck furniture.

    Robot: Power sand the deck furniture.

    Mr. Miyagi: For the crane kick, you must become a crane.

    Robot: I already AM a crane.

    Mr. Miyagi: Then you are ready.

  • ... my Rock'em Sock'em Robots [cheap-internet-store.com]?
  • What I really want to know is, how long until I can climb into one of these things to keep Minmei's singing ass out of trouble?

    Although, with the state of communications, would it not be safer to keep the people controlling these things bunkered down in rooms somewhere? Therefore, the loss of the mecha does not mean the loss of the pilot.

  • ..but where is its Unix Nappy?
  • I can see it now....

    TIM: Too late!
    ARTHUR: What?
    TIM: There he is!
    ARTHUR: Where?
    TIM: There!
    ARTHUR: What, behind the robot?
    TIM: It is the robot!
    ARTHUR: You silly sod! You got us all worked up!
    TIM: Well, that's no ordinary robot. That's the most foul,
    cruel, and bad-tempered robot you ever set eyes on.
    ROBIN: You tit! I soiled my armor I was so scared!
    TIM: Look, that robot's got a vicious streak a mile wide, it's
    a killer!
    ???: Get stuffed!
    ROBIN: What's he do, nibble your bum?
    TIM: He's got huge, sharp-- he
  • Sounds like they're working on a replacement for Power Rangers... "Teenage Mutant Ninja Robots"?
  • they also have a linklink [newscientist.com] to a robotic dragon. hmm, martial arts, dragons....

  • I'm all for duplicating that too.. Sounds like good research to me.
  • Foresaw this.

    But his weren't allowed AI.
  • The first entry in the "top news stories" sidebar of that page is an article entitled Astronomers date Universe's 'cosmic jerk' [newscientist.com]. What do they see in that guy, anyway?
  • Uh, oh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TygerFish ( 176957 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @04:51PM (#7201990)
    First off, the early race-flame posts are ridiculous, so Why bother?

    One of the key virtues to the internet is that no one knows you're an idiot until you open your mouth, so why the urge to walk up to an enemy with a rifle and say, 'hey, I think you dropped these bullets?'

    Second, holy spit! Robots posessing that degree of physical dexterity are really frightening.

    Before that article, it was easy to imagine that the writer from How Stuff Works.com was writing a distant, pie-in-the-sky scenario when he talked about anthropomorphic robots capable of replacing people in jobs. Seeing a robot, smaller than a midget human, and so dextrous that it can approximate sumo or Tai-Ji moves makes you think of applications for the near-term.

    Can a team of them spot-weld hard-to-reach places in automobile assembly with the power problem of individual units solved by a 'chaining' or 'tag-team' system that replaces each one that runs down with others given the same instructions that are charging in nearby racks?

    Could industrial versions be used for remote visual inspection tasks in ships, planes and architectural crawl-spaces and will future designs incorporate spaces that can only accomodate them saving space in each?

    Is the technology behind this degree of articulation adaptable to use in pre-existing technologies like hard-shell diving suits?

    Currently, approximately three million Americans are employed in agriculture with an efficiency so great that government subsidies are needed to make comodity production a viable industry. What happens to world markets when all the labor of farming in the United States is done by a million robots, working day and night, serviced by ten-thousand technicians?

    With first-world price protections in commodities strangling third-world agriculture today, full mechanization would make the situation much worse in the future.

    The possibilities boggle the mind and as more and more technological glitches are solved and as some designs turn away from anthropomorphic models, it is pretty easy to imagine many technologies which simply cut the human out of the manufacturing equation altogether.

    Capitalism worships efficiency and with a sufficient capital outlay it its disposal, it is easy to see a massive influx of robots changing the picture of how the world works, either by completely destroying much of labor's value, or by freeing up huge numbers of people to dream and build and organize and create higher things.

    Considering the lust for power and dominance that seems built in to the organism, it is very hard to imagine machines decreasing the bargaining power of labor leading to increased freedom.

    In other words, 'uh oh.'

  • This is a flagrant abuse of law #1. Someone isn't paying attention:

    1. Ninjas are mammals.

  • Skynet became sentient. And it sent its robot hordes to kill us with.........KARATE?!?!?! WTF?!?!

  • anyone else remember that 70's movie ? ;) now we only need to find space herpes ;)

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