Video: Mech Warfare Rocks RoboGames 2012

We've got some incredible exclusive video from inside the 2012 Mech Warfare arena at RoboGames

2 min read
Video: Mech Warfare Rocks RoboGames 2012

BAM! Cut together, edited, and polished (sorta) is the official (or whatever) RoboGames Mech Warfare 2012 video extravaganza! I say "extravaganza" because we have for you not one, not two, but three videos of this epic event of epicness.

The first video includes lots of clips and a few almost-complete battles from throughout the competition from both day one and day two. Not included is the final deathmatch between Immortal and Insanity Wolf; since this montage-style vid is already pushing nine minutes we'll have the final for you separately.


Insanity Wolf (the giant black mech) made it to the final round and faced off against Immortal (the slightly-less-giant gold-ish mech). As you'll see, speed and maneuverability, as opposed to firepower, helped each robot make it to the end of the bracket, and the last battle was a serious contest of skill. And definitely firepower.



Lastly, we've got footage of an international hardcore fight between three mechs armed with actual rocket launchers. Due to safety concerns, the match took place in one of the ant-weight battlebot arenas. Ultimately, victory went to the last robot standing. Sort of.


The competition this year was a huge improvement over last year, thanks in no small part to locating the arena itself as far away as possible from the wireless interference caused by the rest of the RoboGames competition. Also, the majority of the mechs made it all the way through the competition without suffering catastrophic mechanical failures, which is a notable achievement. Now that the arena and the associate infrastructure (wireless controllers, video feeds, scoring system, etc.) are all working reliably, Mech Warfare seems destined for greatness and probably the Olympics, but until that happens, keep up to date with the sport at the website below.

[ Mech Warfare ]

[ RoboGames 2012 ]

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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