From the labs to the arenas to the battlefields, here are the Top Ten Real Life Fighting Robots.
10. Sewer Snake
Sewer Snake became the richest battlebot of all time when it won the $10,000 Combots 2005 Championship. Later the same year, Sewer Snake also won the RFL (Robot Fighting League) Nationals. In 2006 it went up a weight class to Super Heavyweight (340 lbs) and still managed second. Sewer Snake’s main weapon is an ‘Invertible Lifting Wedge’ (Flipper) which it uses to throw its opponents into the air and sometimes out of the arena. Robot fighting events go in and outta style each year, though maybe its on the way up - ComBots came in at #8 in ‘The Best 10 North American Geek Fests’ but was well behind the ‘World Championship Punkin Chunkin’ (pumpkin throwing) at #2.
Straight outta Israel comes the 9 inch tall VIPeR. Though it looks more dinky than dangerous, apparently it can be fitted with an UZI machine pistol or plant grenades. It can also do the standard bomb-sniffing and surviellence through its onboard camera.
Developed by Carnegie Mellon University for the Marine Corps, the Gladiator is currently in prototype stage. It is highly configurable, the weapons payload can be changed (or completely removed) depending on the mission and the locomotion can alternate between tracks or 6 wheels. It is designed to take a lickin and keep on tickin; the specifications state it can withstand small arms fire at point blank range and still be operable.
7. Robart III
Built by the US Navy, this research prototype is one of the most sophisticated of the robots. It features automated target acquisition; firstly it scans the area for pre-taught known objects and then zooms in to look for vulnerabilities. It also can navigate autonomously through unknown terrain while simultaneously mapping the area. Armament is an air-powered Gatling gun. Though the gun only fires tranquilizer darts “the spinning-barrel mechanism also imparts a rather sobering psychological message during system initialization”.
6. Land Walker
This one’s for the BattleTech fans. Standing at 3.4 metres (11.15 feet) tall and with 2 side-mounted guns, this robot certainly looks the goods. Before you go out and buy one (get your own custom walker for $313,000), you might want to know that the guns shoot rubber balls and the walking is more like a ’shuffle’. Still cool, but maybe a rent rather than a buy.
Huitong (’the child’) is a human-shaped robot built by the Beijing Institute of Technology. Details in english are sketchy at best, though it has “sense of sight, audio dialogue, sense of force and sense of balance”. It can also perform Taijiquan (shadowboxing) and demonstrated its swordfighting technique at an “exhibition of major achievements of the national 10th Five-Year program “. Or something.
4. Flameosapien - Robosapien Flamethrower Hack
So the other robots here are cool n’all, but a little pricey. Well, if you are up for a little DIY then this could be for you. All it takes is a standard Robosapien, about $100 for the flamethrower parts and to be not concerned if you “blow off a hand or burn your house down”. On the same site they also have instructions on how to add a coil gun to your robosapien.
3. MQ-9 Reaper
The MQ-9 is developed by General Atomics and is the first hunter-killer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for long endurance high altitude surveillance. Armament is a combination of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles as well as laser guided bombs (depending on the mission). As well as the US Air Force, it has been purchased by the US Navy who have increased the fuel carried to stretch the flying time to 49 hours. It has also been used by Australia to prevent illegal fishing, presumably without the missles.
2. Intelligent Surveillance & Security Guard Robot
Catchy name. This Samsung robot is designed to protect major military bases and national borders - specifically the South-North Korea border (where it is currently in operation). It can detect and track targets from 4km during the day, and 2km at night with infra red cameras. It has a speaker to communicate with nearby personnel and can automatically ask intruders for a password once they are within 10 meters. If the password is failed then it can respond with an alarm, rubber bullets or something a bit more lethal. It isn’t clear from the articles if the response is automatic or not, but I am assuming a human controller needs to intervene before weapons are fired. Interestingly, the $200,000 units come fitted with an anti-theft alarm, possibly after Samsung read this.
Foster-Miller builds the Talon Robot or Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System (SWORDS) as it is also known. According to FM, the Talon has completed evaluation by the 5th Special Forces in Iraq and will be deployed in an armed reconnaissance role in 2007. It can be equipped with either machine guns, large caliber rifles and rocket launchers. It cannot engage targets autonomously, but instead relies on an operator to direct and fire the weapons.
Some other notable bots that didn’t quite make the top 10 were:
Life-size Boxing Robot, Transformer Robot and Huge Russian Fighting robots (looks super-cool, and equally super-fake).