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R/C Min-Mech Battle Arena

Full-sized mechs are just taking too damn long to come around.
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First, a little bit of background - I, like almost everyone else on the planet, have wanted to ride/own a mech ever since I was a child. Unfortunately, roboticists and engineers are taking a little too long in bringing my dream to fruitation. In Japan, however, there is currently a competition known as ROBO-ONE for small humanoid robots. The robots are remote-controlled and they wrestle other robots for the championship title. They move pretty fluidly, rapidly, have some pretty cool moves, and are relatively cheap. They're basically mini-mechs.

Now for my idea - I envision a room with a bunch of small cockpit pods into which combatants step into. Within the cockpit, the players will find all of the buttons, switches, and levers that are necessary to control a mech along with a nice assortment of screens and monitors. Additionally, the cockpits will be mounted on a hydrolic frame. Each cockpit controls a small mech (probably 6-8 inches tall, a foot at most) via remote control. The mechs are placed in a battle arena simulating a variety of battlefields and conditions using miniature models and what not. The mech's head houses a camera - what the mech sees, the player sees from the cockpit. Overlayed on the images recieved from the mech are targetting reticles, ammo counts, radars, etc.

The environment in which the mechs fight wil be semi-destructable. The mechs could be made to fire small projectiles or battle it out via augmented reality. In addtion, as the mech recieves damage, pieces of its armor and body will fall off (the parts can be put back on after the battle). As the mech takes steps, moves, and takes battle damage, the cockpit will shake accordingly.

The advantage of this over just playing a mech video game is the spectator element - people would be able to watch the action, while the players would feel like they are really a part of a battle. It's a little like the difference between riding in a go-kart and playing a video game about go-karts or playing paintball vs. an FPS on your PC. The only reason I mention augmented reality is for the sake of logisitics.

A system like this could also be applied to R/C tanks, boats, cars, airplanes (dogfights!), submarines, etc. Hell you could even combine all of those vehicles on one battlefield for a truly epic battle!

prototrance, Aug 04 2007


       Great idea. I think it'd be an advantage to have a top-down view, so you'd have to restrict all the players to the "robot's eye view". Stereo cameras would be good too.
Srimech, Aug 04 2007

       Mechs - bah. Anyone who entered a mech in one of the extant "Robot Wars" type competitions would see it tipped over, then spanked soundly by anything on treads or wheels. Bipedal is just not a good shape for a war machine. Also, it seems to me that those who are enamored of mechs are gamers, and have no ability to build a machine. I am sure that anyone with the time and ability to build such a machine would ask to be paid top dollar before letting some gamer jump into the cockpit and destroy the robot.   

       As regards spectator robot battles, I was thinking about this recently while looking at the old Robot Battles programming site. I had a hoot with that, and with its Apple II predecessor. I was in the mood to watch a good battle or 2, but could not find video anywhere.
bungston, Aug 05 2007

       Yeah, look what happened to the AT-AT's on Hoth.
wagster, Aug 05 2007

       Granted, Robot Wars and Battlebots robots are very specialized to their arena. Many of them would founder helplessly on any sort of rough terrain (I know, I used to build them). For a while there was a push for "off-road" Battlebots, but it never really caught on.
5th Earth, Aug 05 2007

       There was a guy who built a full size mech in his garden as a playhouse for his kids. It was really good but it didn't move. I've looked for the link but I can't find it.
wagster, Aug 05 2007

       Like bungston I never quite understood the fascination with bipedal robots. On rough terrain a four or more legged vehicle would seem much better and even then I think it'd be beaten by a tracked or wheeled vehicle designed for that terrain.   

       However, that doesn't detract from this idea. If people are fighting pre-built, well matched robots it doesn't really matter what form they're in.
Srimech, Aug 05 2007

       It says a lot about humankind that we get new robot technology and want to use it for fighting each other. I wonder what Asimov would have thought.
wagster, Aug 05 2007


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