Servo Motor Samurai

When you think of servo motors, you almost certainly do not think of sword-wielding Japanese warriors. It would be strange if you did. When most people think of servos, they think of industrial automation, or the packaging industry, or maybe even the servo motors found in everyday items like a DVD player or an electric toothbrush, but not East Asian swordsmen who live their lives by a code of honor. However, a group of Japanese engineers have developed an industrial robot that will forever have you associating servos with samurai.

Engineers at Yaskawa Electric Corporation, a company that like Indramat specializes in servo motors, servo drives, and motion controllers, have built Motoman-MH24, an industrial robot capable of recreating the powerful and precise movements of a samurai.

Isao Machii is a master swordsman holding numerous world records for his abilities with a sword. He’s even sliced a BB gun pellet as it was flying through the air at around 200 mph. The engineers at Yaskawa capture Machii’s movements using a motion tracking suit. These movements were then uploaded to Motoman-MH24’s software, enabling the robot to chop, hack, and slash like a samurai.

Motoman and Machii then had a highly-produced showdown to showcase the robot’s abilities. The face-off begins with simple cuts of a rolled mat and then ramps up to a very dramatic, “Thousand Cuts”, but the most impressive feat may be when the robot splits a pea pod with a single swing.

There’s really no practical use for a sword slinging industrial robot, but the exhibition is more of a demonstration of the robot’s precision, accuracy, and learning ability rather than a pitch for a dueling automaton.

Industrial robots are becoming more advanced and more impressive every day. The speed, precision, and general capabilities of industrial robots is at an unprecedented level, and they will only continue to get better.