Robot Samurai Defeats Record-Holding Japanese Swordsman

Two Japanese sword masters recently faced off in a test of skill and precision. One, Guinness World Record-holding swordsman Isao Machii, came to greatness thanks to Japanese society’s proud and ancient samurai tradition. In stark contrast, the other sword master, a samurai robot called the Yaskawa Motoman MH-24, was born of Japan’s cutting-edge technological prowess. Perhaps nothing shows the two sides of Japan better than a test of tradition versus technology like this one.

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Isao Machii’s abilities are pretty much superhuman.

The human in the tale, Machii, holds not one but five Guinness World Records for swordsmanship. His feats include slicing in half a 200-plus mph BB pellet fired at him, as well as beating records such as “fastest 1,000 Iaido sword cuts” (36 minutes and 4 seconds). Yet, we already know who the victor in this story will be.

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A less traditional case of ‘pupil beats sensei.’

The competition was the idea of the Japanese company behind the Motoman robot arm, Yaskawa. It was meant as a showcase of what the robot samurai could do. After scanning Machii’s moves digitally, the MH-24 learned to copy them. The machine had Machii’s movements input into its memory after they were recorded using a very precise 3-D motion detection suit. Then, the robot samurai could perform those same moves itself. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the Motoman unit displayed greater precision, able to perform both diagonal and horizontal cuts extremely accurately. It showed this by chopping lengthwise a narrow bean pod. The only thing the MH-24 didn’t beat Machii at was speed, with the human slightly edging out the machine.

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More robot samurai in the future? Dawn of the Age of the Machines?

Okay, so perhaps this test doesn’t quite spell a science fiction-ish world takeover by machines, but it is fairly likely that we will have more robot samurai defeating human swordsmanship champions and record holders. We have also seen automatons that can cook meals or fire weapons more accurately than humans. And, yes, robots’ high precision, ability to work without getting tired, and lack of emotion are certainly key ingredients for a high-precision killing machine. But, for now at least, this Motoman MH-series robot arm is certainly content enough to perform its duties in industrial applications quickly, precisely, and efficiently.