Japanese engineers have come up with a robot that can copy the moves of a samurai sword master and then beat his “teacher” in a fight.
The samurai machine carries out hard-angled cuts with speed and precision – without breaking sweat. Among the robot’s most spectacular accomplishments is a party trick: being able to slice a runner bean length ways. They have presented a video showing what happens when their industrial robot—Motoman MH24—is placed in competition with a world-famous sword master. Welcome to a Yaskawa challenge, featuring a robot and human expert engaging in a display of skills around bamboo poles. Essentially, this is a challenge where viewers can witness the performance reach of a modern-day industrial robot. Qualities such as “agility,” “accuracy” and “flexibility” were on trial—could the robot stand up to the real sword master? In comes Isao Machii, iaijutsu (a sword technique cultivated from ancient times) Master, and five-time world record holder. As a sword technique, iaijutsu teaches how to draw quickly. Machii’s fans worldwide know him for his feats, and supporters say he can take the level of eye/hand coordination higher than anyone else. Case in point: his having cut a speeding bullet in mid-air with his sword. At a firing range outside the hills of Los Angeles, he was shown a BB gun pellet which he was to slice with his sword. He did.
Credit: Yaskawa Electric Corporation
The video shows a team member readying the Motoman-MH24 industrial robot. (“Motoman” is actually the company’s line of Motoman industrial robots and robotic systems.)
The Malay Mail Online said the robot and Machii were surrounded by a manmade bamboo grove “and to make it even more authentic, the MH24 was equipped with a real katana, made in the Edo period.” (The Japanese sword, katana, is a martial art discipline in the education of the classical warrior. The katana is a work of high craftsmanship.)
“We analyzed Machii’s sword technique in 3D,” said the company team. They reproduced the movements in their industrial robot. Test sequences carried out to test the skills of Machii against the robot’s were to cut in four directions; a diagonal cut; rising cut; horizontal cut; and the show-stopper, a thousand cuts. “While Machii looks visibly tired towards the end of the final ‘1000 cuts’ scene, his mechanical counterpart could probably go on for at least an extra 2000,” commented Emiko Jozuka in Motherboard.