Robot Combat League Brings Rockem Sockem Robots to Life on Syfy


So, you remember Real Steel, that one movie that came out a couple years ago? People build huge robots that beat each other up, lots of emotions, all that? Looks like it didn’t take very long for Real Steel to become, well, real.

Tonight at 10:00 Eastern, you can tune in to SyFy to catch the premiere of the Robot Combat League, hosted by former professional wrestler Chris Jericho. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like – robots fighting. It’s being presented as a reality show, with 12 teams of two people being paired up with one robot, with the goal of becoming champions and winning $100,000. When the robots meet in the ring, one team member will be controlling the finer points of the robotics, while the other member will be fitted with a metallic contraption that will allow them to control the robot’s upper movements. Again, it’s pretty much like the movie – the user punches, the robot will punch in the same way.

Lost in the fact that it is a television show is that this is actually a pretty amazingly advanced display of robotics. Even more impressive is that the creation of all 12 robots to be used in the show were overseen by one man, Mark Setrakian. These robots are no joke as fighters – their punches will be packing thousands of pounds of pressure – Setrakian describes what the in-ring experience would be as “standing in the middle of a car crash.” On top of that, they’ll be sturdy enough to take a few punches and not drop to the ground in a heap.

The contestants won’t exactly fade into the background, either. The field includes the daughter of George Lucas, who happens to be an MMA fighter, and a guy who happens to have some robotics chops himself – the NASA engineer responsible for building the Curiosity rover. In general, the teams will have one person with a fighting background and one person with a robotics background. That means the episode where the teammates have to swap roles and then really dramatic music plays and everyone kinda stares at each other with gaping mouths is inevitable.

As exciting as this is, we should stop to remember the Robot Combat League’s television forerunner – the Comedy Central classic BattleBots. We only had it for two years, but a magnificent two years it was. The metallic carnage was not to be missed.