Thursday, March 07, 2013

Fighting Robots

What happens if a couple of guys get together with some RC (Remote Control) model cars? Chances are, they will run them into each other and see who wins. Now, suppose they started armoring those cars?

That was the idea of Battlebots which had five seasons on TV between 2000 and 2003. The robots were divided into different weight classes and tried to disable each other. There were a few imitator seasons which were never as good.

Enter the Robot Combat League currently showing on Syfy. Instead of small robots on wheels operated by geeks with joysticks, these are giant humanoid robots. Each robot has a pair of operators. One maneuvers the robot and the other controls the arms with controllers that match the operator's movements. It was probably inspired by the movie Real Steel.

It sounds awesome but it isn't. There are showers of sparks which have to be rigged since the robots seem to be operated by hydraulics. Their movements are not fluid. They shuffle around, held upright by a long T-bar behind them. The arms are the main thing that moves. Except for the sparks and the trash-talking, the show is nothing but pairs of Rockem Sockem Robots ducking it out.

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