Get ready to rumble! According to Entertainment Weekly, the Syfy channel has greenlit and shot the first season of a new show where eight-foot tall, 1,000 pound state-of-the-art humanoid robots will battle each other in a boxing cage until one of the robots is defeated. The new series, called Robot Combat League will feature huge robots pounding away at each other “in a satisfying shower of sparks and gushing hydraulic fluid”. The robots will be controlled by human “shadow boxers” whose movement are translated via software and mimicked by the battling robots.
Syfy president Mark Stern told ET:
“It has always been our desire — and it’s really come around perennially — to update and do Battle Bots for the new century. Can we do Real Steel? [referring to the movie] Are we at a place where you can do real bipedal robots? Every time we tried to to do it the project was stymied by the technology.”
Now the technology is ready for prime-time. The show is the brain-child of veteran reality TV show producer Craig Plestis and robotics expert Mark Setrakian. Lest you think two eight-foot killer robotic warriors are out of reach and not feasible until 2050 or later, remember that Setrakian’s resume includes development of life-saving robotic systems, robotic creature special effects, animatronics, and robotic control technology for films such as Men in Black and Hellboy. Plestis and Setrakian proved to Syfy that the required robotic technology was possible by demonstrating a robotic warrior tearing a VW Beetle car to shreds. Yes, the battles are going to be mind-boggling.
“Setrakian created a robotics system that can mimic a human’s actions and movements. We’ve had robots decapitated, we’ve had robots cut in half. It was truly spectacular.”
The only feature that keeps the robots from being totally autonomous is a stabilizing bar that “prevents the top-heavy machines from toppling over during fighting and help controls the bot’s movement across the ring.” It is hoped that “version 2.0” of the show will be able to eliminate the stabilizing bar entirely.
The Robot Combat League will feature 12 teams each consisting of a fighter (“robo-jockey”) and a robotics engineer (“robo-tech”). The robo-jockeys will come from various backgrounds including an MMA fighter, a professional race-car driver, an Olympic athlete, and a National Guard helicopter pilot. Each fight consists of three rounds with the winning team advancing to the next round. If a robot is disabled, the team has 20 minutes to make the robot functional again and get it back in the ring.
Robot Combat League premieres on 2/26/2013 on Syfy.