The heavyweight QIBBOT was inspired by Real Steel, a science fiction flick that envisions a world where robots replace human boxers.
Standing almost two meters tall and weighing 140 kg, the boxer robot called QIBBOT looks like a formidable opponent. It only has one arm, but it’s massive – 150 cm long, or about the size of actor Danny DeVito.
The robot was developed by Qibo Robot Company in Weihei, China, and was inspired by Real Steel, a 2011 science fiction sports drama starring Hugh Jackman as a struggling ex-boxer trying to make it in a world where robot fighting is the top sport.
Much like in the movie, the video shared on YouTube by QIBBOT’s developers shows a human operator manipulating the robot with virtual reality controls and fighting another robot, which is controlled by AI.
Impressively, the delay between the human operator’s movements and those of the robot is barely noticeable to the naked eye. In fact, the delay – or latency – is only about 12 milliseconds, which is “extremely low” compared to similar robots, according to the developers.
Most other “tele-robots” have been designed for slow to medium-speed tasks, they said, adding, “In those systems, if the operator moves quickly, the robot’s response will have an evident latency, which is mostly over 100 milliseconds.”
Which is fine for some tasks but not in a fast-paced boxing match. Of the tele-robots that can move at greater speeds, most are small or medium-sized, QIBBOT’s developers said, with MIT’s compact Little Hermes thought to have demonstrated the lowest latency so far.
“The robot’s latency is extremely low. Its speed is very fast, but seems not as fast as QIBBOT’s,” the developers said, expressing confidence that theirs is the “world’s fastest tele-operated robot.”
However, developers were careful to note that velocity is just one of the metrics to measure a robot’s performance and might vary depending on the machine’s mechanics and design priorities.
QIBBOT also has design issues that need fixing, they said, with plans for a new prototype that will have two arms and more joints in each, body rotation and the ability to move up and down, smooth motion with no vibrations, and “more human-like” motion styles.
Developers also promise better fighting strategies and two game modes: in addition to a human player fighting an AI opponent, two human players will be able to fight each other with their robots.
And perhaps one day, it will grow into something as exciting as the prospect of two billionaires exchanging blows in a cage.
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