When we think of competitive robot sumo the first country that always comes to mind is Japan. It's where the robotic sport first originated, and has been actively promoted by FSI Corporation for the past 22 years.
The teams are known for an obsessive focus on design and performance to the point that the top robot competitors move so fast that it's hard to capture them on camera. And, when it comes to building the most competitive robot, they tend to use only the best, and often most expensive, components, like Maxon drive motors.
But recently strong competitors have appeared in countries not previously well known for advanced technology. The Baltic Robot Sumo organization is a great example. They seem to be just as focused and competitive as their Japanese compatriots on the other side of the globe.
We're not sure exactly how robot sumo first captured the attention of Baltic robot builders like Vitalij Rodnov, but it's apparent that the sport has caught on and become an inspiring passion for them. Not only do they go to the same extremes in specifying components and design features as the Japanese, they even cast their own robot tires.
Their devotion has definitely paid off. The regular Baltic Robot Sumo competitions are definitely world-class. And, they have consistently taken home medals from the annual RoboGames robot sumo events held in California. Even more impressive, they have even flown to Japan and competed against the top teams there.
Here's a striking demonstration of the speed and power behind Rodman777's sumo robot designs:
Needless to say, this is one of those "Don't try this at home" demonstrations. That robot could easily snap your fingers or break your hand.
While most casual observers don't see much potential in robot sports like sumo or micromouse, dedicated builders and supporters understand that all the basic skills and techniques utilized to design the most competitive sumo robots are directly applicable to other engineering disciplines. That's one major reason why FSI has put so much time, effort, and money into promoting the sport. Many of the competitors over the years have been students at technical high schools and colleges involved in the program. Often they go on to a very successful engineering career in the automotive, robotics, or other related industry. If you understand how to design a robot to move at extremely high speed and withstand crashes, then there's a good chance you will also be very good at designing cars, trucks, and high performance equipment.