ROBO-ONE 12: Robot Bouts Get Real (Video)
After every ROBO-ONE competition we see comments posted online pointing out, usually rightly so, that some of the bouts aren't very realistic or human like. It's important to keep in mind that the overarching goal of ROBO-ONE is 'Biped Robot Entertainment.' That doesn't necessarily equate to modeling humans or their boxing and wrestling styles. Nevertheless the ROBO-ONE organizing committee has gently and consistently pushed the builders in that direction as much as possible. Now it appears that their efforts and guidance are really paying off.
One additional factor might be related to the theme challenges for each of the major competitions. For example, the theme challenge for ROBO-ONE 10 was to have your robot do an exercise called the rabbit hop. This was extremely difficult for most builders to accomplish, though in the end they did a great job.
That particular challenge shifted their focus to the legs, and resulted in the use of higher torque servos, more attention to leg movements and dynamics, and strategies to manage servo compliance. And, at the same time, the bouts ended up with a large number of competitors making huge jumps or dives, often backwards, at their opponents. The strategy was effective, but it wasn't very humanoid, and wasn't as interesting or exciting to watch.
In contrast, ROBO-ONE 12's theme challenge was to have your robot play catch. This appears to have focused the builders on upper body improvement, especially flexibility and gripping. And, those efforts seem to have carried over into the second day's matches, as you can see from these video highlights: