Last week, while attending Microsoft’s TechEd event in Orlando, I saw a line of guys hanging out at what looked like a boxing ring. I went to check it out and saw two life-sized robots beating the hell out of each other, just like the old Rock-Em Sock-Em game. These are called "BoxingBots" and they were built by Microsoft's Coding4Fun team, that shows off just-for-fun coding projects on their website.
The six-foot tall bots are pneumatic, using pressurized gas for mechanical motion. In this case, the bots use two 2.5-gallon tanks of compressed air at 150 psi. Players control the bots with a Kinect for Windows-enabled PC that reads their movements and maps out their body through a series of dots displayed on screen. Once the player’s dots are in balance and the bots are gassed up, the punches can be thrown. Players deliver punches with a full arm stroke, once the bots are close enough. Leaning forward moves the robot forward on its four omni-directional wheels.
When they throw a punch or lean forward to move the bot, that information is sent to the administrator PC, which can override, reset or pause the game, just in case things get out of hand. Players aim their bot's blows at the center target of the opponent machine's chest. The target is powered by Phidgets LED controller board and when hit enough times the bot is “knocked out.” (Phidgets-based systems are popular with robot lovers because they allow robots to be controlled by a simple PC and are low cost.)
Want to make your own boxing robot? Check out this link to download the code. Take a look at me demo-ing the bots and getting robotically KO'ed in the video below: