Katana-wielding robots battle each other with deadly precision (VIDEO)

Katana-wielding robots battle each other with deadly precision (VIDEO)
A Swiss robotics company has created a viral video of a ballet-like battle between katana-wielding machines. The demonstration shows the precision of the robots at a time the company is investing in artificial intelligence.

The orange robotic arms each hold their own traditional Japanese sword, and match each other move for move, like mechanical versions of the Dread Pirate Roberts and Inigo Montoya. Of course, with only one arm, neither bot is left-handed (or right-handed, for that matter).

“If you are expecting to see an epic duel where one robot hacks another to death, well, that does not happen here (obviously, these machines are rather expensive),” From Quarks to Stars noted. “Ultimately, the fight looks a little more like a dance.”

The precision of the robots is what their maker, ABB Robotics, is known for, according to the Nerdist. The company’s predecessors introduced Europe to many of the cutting-edge technologies of the 20th Century, including steam turbines, transformer stations and industrial robots. The two companies merged into ABB in 1988, with its first robotic innovation coming with 1998’s FlexPicker, a delta robot uniquely designed for the picking and packing industry.

The demonstration bots show the exactitude for which ABB’s industrial robots are known.

“Precision is precision when you’re dealing with robots, whether it’s keeping sword points in contact or sorting food for mass distribution,” Nerdist reported. “Just as long as ABB’s robots don’t decide to turn their katanas on humans we’ll probably be OK.”

Others welcomed the precision with which our new robot overlords could kill us.

“You could arm your robots with boring old firearms, or you could train your robots to FIGHT WITH KATANAS,” io9 noted. “If the robot uprising happens, at least we'll be able to admire their precise swordplay ballet before they run us through.”

And the robot uprising could happen with ABB’s investment in Vicarious, an artificial intelligence research company. At the beginning of November, the Swiss company’s venture capital unit contributed $12 million in the San Francisco-based start-up. Vicarious says its algorithms are aimed at achieving “human-level intelligence in vision, language, and motor control,” and it has been focusing first on visual perception, VentureBeat reported.

“This partnership is a perfect fit. ABB is a pioneer in the robotics industry, with a global installed base of more 250,000 industrial robots to improve productivity, quality and worker safety, while Vicarious has positioned itself to do the same for AI,” said Girish Nadkarni, Head of ABB Technology Ventures, in a press release.

Vicarious is aiming to develop human-level intelligence in vision, language and motor control for robots, Reuters reported. Nadkarni said this would help ABB to develop robots able to recognize objects and their attributes.

"That would be a significant step up for any form of automation or machine learning," he said.

ABB’s demonstration robots have learned quite a bit, including playing snooker and balancing Fanta cans. And, of course, battling with katanas. But some of the video’s viewers still wished for something more epic.

“I just wish they were not only arms, but humanoid robots fighting — giant humanoid robots,” Omar Kardoudi of Gizmodo Australia wrote of the duel.

For now, ABB's fully programmable Lego robot will have to suffice.