SyFy, which in the past few years has expanded on its science fiction offerings with wrestling matches and reality competition shows, has decided to throw all of its programming into a blender. The result is Robot Combat League, a reality competition series in which engineers construct robots that fight each other for prize money.
The robots are controlled from off stage by real-life professional fighters, including MMA fighter Amanda Lucas, whose shadow-boxing moves are translated via motion control (à la Wii) to the robots in the ring.
Syfy president Mark Stern was quick to point out the various things they ripped off when creating the new series:
“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? 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. Up until we actually saw them in the ring fighting, we didn’t think it would work. 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.”
Battle Bots used small, toy-car-like robots that attacked each other with saw blades and hammers as their builders operated them by remote control (Fun Fact: One of the builders was Mythbuster‘s Grant Imahara, which explains why he makes robots so often for his new show).
Robot Combat League‘s contenders are much more impressive, weighing in at a thousand pounds a piece. The real question is, how maneuverable will the new bots be? Walking is very difficult from an engineering standpoint, and walking robots probably wouldn’t be stable enough to take (or even throw) a single punch. Are we going to end up with two immovable robots, punching each other like Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots? We’ll find out when the show premieres in February.
Here’s a clip from Battle Bots (featuring Grant Imahara) for comparison: