Even though they had no direction communication, and didn't even know the other group existed, avid robot builders in Japan and the US have started playing some serious, and very similar, robot combat games. Looks like it will all come to a head with face to face shoot-outs at RoboGames 2011.
When the time and conditions are right, a good idea will suddenly appear almost simultaneously in several different places at once. For the past seven years most of the excitement and energy in hobby robotics has focused on humanoid robots, and we've seen some amazing advances. But, at the same time, there has been a level of stagnation with the same players participating in the competitions and taking home all the trophies. The time was right for a new, exciting, robot sport to make its appearance and to give a whole new group of robot fans the opportunity to take up the challenge.
In the US, Mech WarFare seems to be filling that need. Almost at the same time, and without any cross-pollination or communication, a very similar robot game was born in Japan - The Robot Survival Game. Tanaka-san, the driving force behind Poseiden and a great modeler/designer, is also one of the top Robot Survival Game players.
Tanaka's awesome Poseidon humanoid robot design
We recently had the opportunity to take a close look at his latest multi-leg creation at the RT robot shop in Akihabara.
The robot has six legs using Kondo KRS-xxxx servos. A pan & tilt assembly mounted on the robots main body is capped by a light sensor.
In combat, the light sensor is covered by a small framework with an aluminum foil skin. As competitors pellets hit the framework and punch holes in the foil, more and more light hits the sensor simulating battle damage.
The light sensor assembly includes a small potentiometer to adjust the sensitivity.
The front of the pan and tilt assembly is where all the action is as its multi barrel pellet gun zeros in on its opponents.
Installed just above the gun, and aligned with it's axis, there's a modified laser pointer, optical sensor, and camera with the video feed transmitted wirelessly back to the operator.
The leg design uses standard Kondo servos and brackets designed originally for the KHR-2HV series humanoids.
The shin part of the legs appears to have a wooden internal structure.
In a recent RoboCon magazine article Tanaka explained how the used 3D modeling software to design the leg covers, fabricated them as flat patterns that were then folded. The result looks extremely professional.
Tanaka uses a Kondo remote to control the robot in battle. It's extremely, accurate, and exciting in battle.
The only problem we've noticed so far is that the gun turret sometimes collides with the top joint of the front legs. It would be interesting to see if it's possible to develop a software algorithm so that the operator could just point the gun turret towards the opponent and let the controller take care of moving the legs and pan & tilt to get the gun into position.
We're really looking forward to seeing Tanaka and his Robot Survival Game compatriots go head to head with the Mech Warfare robots. Hopefully that will take place at RoboGames 2011 next April.