Subscribe to Breaking News emails

You have successfully subscribed to the Breaking News email.

Subscribe today to be the first to to know about breaking news and special reports.

Swordsman vs. Machine: Robotic Arm and Samurai Face Off

by Devin Coldewey /  / Updated 
Yaskawa Electric Corporation

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

The swordfighting skills of the Japanese samurai are the stuff of legend, but are they in danger of being replaced by robots, like so many others? The MOTOMAN-MH24 robotic arm in this very-well-produced video makes a good case for it, but that's only because it is mimicking exactly the movements of Isao Machii, record-holding master of the Iaijyutsu sword style. Japanese industrial equipment company Yaskawa tracked his motion much the way filmmakers do for computer-generated movies, then fed that information into a highly mobile robot arm. The result is what you see:

Not pictured is the amount of tweaking and redos surely required by the robot, which, powerful and agile as it is, can't automatically adjust mid-swing. Machines like this may be precise, but they lack adaptability. One place it seems to shine is in the final "thousand cuts" section — an endurance slicing match, at the end of which Machii is visibly sweating and winded. The robot, of course, is ready for a thousand more.

Related: Robots Gather in California to Compete for DARPA Prize

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news