Behold! A samurai vs a robot
A one-armed robot designed by Yaskawa, and a samurai master go head-to-head. The samurai vs robot competition breaks down into four categories.
If you had asked me as a kid if I thought there would ever be a day when groups are holding samurai vs robot competitions, I would have obviously said hell yes. If anything, I’m a little mad that it took this long.
In the demonstration captured on video below, the Yaskawa Corporation wheeled out a one-armed robot that has the ability to mimic some difficult and powerful human moves. To illustrate that point, Yaskawa also brought out Iaijyutsu Master, Isao Machii. The company then inadvertently shat all over his life.
To begin with, Yaskawa chucked Machii into a motion tracking outfit, and 3D mapped his movements in order to give the robot a baseline to work from. With that information loaded up, the robot and Machii proceeded into a series of four events.
The art of Bushido, known in Japan as the “Way of the Warrior,” dates back centuries. The katana blade alone dates back nearly 1,000 years. All of that means nothing to a one-armed robot.
The idea of robots using swords is alarmingly common. A few months back, a pair of robotic arms went at it. According to Popular Science, Japan’s Maniki Labs managed to create a robot that briefly managed to parry a human attack. Yaskawa’s exhibit, however, went way beyond that.
It’s a bit depressing really. Machii has dedicated his life to the art of swordsmanship, and one robot comes out after a fancy bit of programming and is like, “Whatever, bro. That all there is to this whole ‘swording’ thing?”
The competition/exhibition is broken up into four categories: Diagonal Cut, Rising Cut, Horizontal Cut, and the co-op Thousand Cuts. In each event, Machii starts off by showing the robot how it’s done. The robot them imitates the master.
At first, the robot just mimics, but then in the Horizontal Cut it starts to show off a bit when it cuts a pea pod in half. For the final event, the robot and Machii strike a combined 1,000 times.
Machii looks fairly crestfallen throughout. He has kind of a “what the hell am I doing here” sort of look on his face.
The robot doesn’t tire, has even more control than a master, swings with the force of a mechanical arm, and can learn by mimicking others. Fortunately, Machii has the edge in footwork. Granted, he’s a fleshy meatbag compared to the robot, but we aren’t quite ready to welcome our robotic overlords quite yet.