With each battle lasting less than five seconds, these merciless machines are perhaps the future of sumo.
Two metal sumo wrestlers stare at each other across the ring, waiting in stoic silence. A signal is given, and the two race towards each other in a flurry of pushes and twists. In a matter of seconds, the match is over. These sumo wrestler robots trade flesh for sturdy metal and bulk for speed. And they are not to be trifled with.
While sumo, Japan’s national sport, involves two hulking men throwing each other around using a variety of techniques (as demonstrated by schoolgirls), sumo robots do it differently.
Various modifications facilitate strategic advantage, such as slanted metal blades or wide arms to help push opponents out of the ring. They can be remote-controlled (slower pace) or autonomous (blindingly fast), and there’s nothing quite like watching two ferocious, battery-thirsty robots lunge at each other’s imaginary necks.
▼ This “wrestler’s” two arms resemble Japanese war banners.
The sumo robots give no quarter, and it’s not surprising to see a metal piece or two fly off from the fierce engagement, forcing referees to wear protective gear.
▼ This winged monster is the stuff of nightmares.
▼ A remote-controlled match is noticeably slower,
but arguably more tense and exciting to watch.
▼ Here’s footage of several tournaments compiled into one video.
This new age sumo isn’t confined to just Japan though. The last international sumo robot tournament was held in Tokyo’s Ryogoku Sumo Hall on 18 December 2016, which saw contestants from Colombia, Mexico, Turkey, and Japan pit against each other in brutal skirmishes of steel sumo. Team AVCI from Turkey won the gold in the autonomous category, while team R☆Ace from Japan clinched first place in the remote-controlled division.
The next competition, the 29th international sumo robot tournament, is scheduled to kick off on 17 December this year, and we can’t wait to see who will emerge victorious in this frenzy of machines. It’s too bad cold steel can’t have a sumo comedy routine.