Picture a robot.

Is it a mechanical assistant, ready to augment humans in the most menial tasks? Is it a fancy robot equipped with artificial intelligence from a science fiction film? What about a robotic sumo wrestler?

Bet you didn’t think of that.

There is actually a whole industry of people using robots in spectator sports. Many are familiar with Battlebots, but that’s not the only way robots can duke it out in the battlefield. Introducing: Robo-Sumo, or pepe-sumo. Much like the original sport of Sumo, the goal is not to destroy the opponent robot or turn it into a heaping pile of junk, but to push it out of a ring. That may not sound like much, but the execution is oh so entertaining.

What’s more, these bots are not controlled by humans at all; they are completely autonomous. In a way, they don’t duke it out because they’re told to, but because they want to.

The robots are outfitted with various sensors to detect opponents and a creative array of mechanical arms, lifts, and sheer brute force to accomplish their goals. Their tactics vary: some robots are fast, zipping all around the ring looking for a killing blow. Others are slow and bulky, able to withstand constant pushing by the faster robots.

This may seem like a highly informal sport, but extensive rules have been set up, governing everything from the size of the ring to the use of jamming and flammable materials.


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