The battle of robots did not justify itself

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The battle of robots did not justify itself
The battle of robots did not justify itself

The duel of huge combat humanoid robots (BCH) that took place the day before made, to put it mildly, an ambiguous impression. Let's try to dig deeper and understand why this happened.


What is BChR?

Now no one can say with certainty who first came up with the concept of huge humanoid robots. Yes, and it is quite difficult to give a certain unified image to this type of fantastic weapon: along with the evolution of fictional universes, the image of the BCH also changed. Almost stereotypical fighting humanoid robots can be seen in the popular Japanese anime "Evangelion", where one such machine can almost single-handedly decide the outcome of the battle and save all of humanity. A different concept of the BCHR is presented in the previously popular animated series "Echo Platoon", where controlled robots are similar to modern exoskeletons.


In short, the BCHR is a fictional combat unit that looks like a person (it has arms, legs, and sometimes a head) and, as a rule, is controlled by an operator sitting inside. To many people, far from developing real military equipment, this approach seems to be very justified. However, the duel that took place the other day between the two BCHR models once again showed that in a real war, most likely, we will not see anything like this. The robot is too tall and therefore vulnerable. In addition, it is noticeably more expensive than the main battle tank, whose form factor is much more thoughtful. In every way.

Duel of the century

Back in 2015, the developers of the American MegaBot Mk.II robot challenged the Japanese from Suidobashi Heavy Industry, which built the Kuratas robot, to a duel. The financing of the development of the "American" was undertaken by Autodesk. At first, they wanted to raise $ 1.8 million using crowdfunding, but the fundraising campaign failed. Apparently, the BCHR turned out to be not as interesting to the public as the ideologists of the project thought. However, the Americans still collected 550 thousand dollars. This money was enough to build an "advanced" MegaBot called MegaBot Mk.III Eagle Prime.


What are robots? They have no legs in the classical sense. The Japanese car is driven by wheels and is somewhat reminiscent of a plump agricultural tractor. "American" moves on tracks. Kuratas (at least its first version) weighs over 4 tons. It has over thirty hydraulic joints. The diesel engine allows a speed of about 10 km / h. The whole structure is controlled with the help of a touchscreen and two joysticks, which are responsible for the movements of the hands of the unit.

The American MegaBot Mk.III robot is larger. It weighs almost 12 tons, which is comparable to the mass of the Soviet BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle. If the development from the United States stands up to its full height, it will look even more impressive, like a "real" combat robot from science fiction.


Neither MegaBot nor Kuratas were ever created as combat vehicles in the truest sense of the word. Before us are just expensive toys that can be controlled from the inside and that carry fake "rockets" and "machine guns". The latter, however, even know how to shoot.

The fight itself took place in Japan and consisted of several parts, in which one Japanese and two American robots took part (but the latter, of course, could not enter the ring at the same time). The rules are simple: you need to make sure that the enemy robot is out of order or his team capitulates.

At first, the Japanese were lucky: they confidently won the first round, simply knocking over the brainchild of the United States, crashing into it with a metal hand. It was an old version of the American robot. Everything looked, I must say, spectacular, but then the show began, of little interest to wide circles.In the next round, the more advanced American Eagle Prime tried to "shoot" the Japanese car with balls, but it drove behind the barrels, so the battle quickly escalated into a burdensome positional war.

Then the Japanese for some reason launched a drone with a smoke bomb, after which Kuratas rushed into battle, probably wanting to repeat the success of the first batch. But a team from the United States managed to bring down old cars, partially blocking his path (in reality, everything looked much less certain than it seems in the text version). The MegaBot Mk.III fired a couple of shots at its enemy, and then disabled it with confident, but not very fast, metal hand strikes. This concludes the round for Kuratas.

The last, third, battle turned out to be even less successful for the Japanese. A team from the United States equipped their brainchild with a giant saw. Eagle Prime trapped the unfortunate Japanese robot and literally shredded it with this weapon. At the same time, the presenter began to rush ostentatiously, demanding that the show be stopped. As a result, the USA team won.

The saw looked really scary, but the dynamics were gone. Towards the end, the cars looked like professional heavyweight wrestlers grappling with each other. This is clearly not what the American community, who loves bright shows, expected. Strictly speaking, there was no heat of passion in all the fights at all. The cut that we were shown lasts a little less than half an hour. In reality, it took only a day to recover one robot after a round. So it makes no sense to broadcast all this live.

After watching, one of the viewers wrote that the Japanese Kuratas was originally destined for the role of a victim. Still, he looked much more modest. Well, maybe it is. We still do not know all the details of the fight, so there is no point in talking seriously about the teams' potential.


A future without a future

The battles of futuristic controlled robots can be useful in the context of the development of robotics technologies, but they are unlikely to be an interesting pastime for ordinary people. The presence of a pilot inside such a machine sharply limits the "room for maneuver": in order for people to survive, battles must take place at a very leisurely pace. Do not forget that the robot can catch fire from a sharp blow or fall. In the course of the fight, the pilots will have to think not so much about the victory as about how not to harm the opponent too much. In such conditions, talking about the spirit of competition is simply inappropriate.

Another nuance is the high complexity and high cost of such complexes. Not every team, even very talented engineers, who have even very solid sponsors, will pull the development of something like that.

In this sense, fights similar to those that we saw in the show "Battles of robots" look much more promising. Small remote-controlled robots that could use a wide variety of weapons took part there. There were both teams of professionals and amateurs who simply had nothing to occupy themselves with at their leisure.

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