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Blogs > About Sumo 3Kg and moving on

por Raul Lapeira en fecha 2016-12-23

Autonomous sumo 3Kgs is a traditional category when it comes to robotic competitions, it has been happening since the eighties in Japan and in the XXI century it got widespread adoption through Europe and America, now is a growing trend in Latin America.

In the Spanish National Robotics League the Sumo 3Kg category was the most followed and participated category (apart from introductory categories) through 2000 until 2010 (league founded in 2008). But in the last years there has been a huge decrease on number of robots and interest has reduced with no sight of improving due to a number of reasons:

  • The quality is near perfection: With the given set of rules the Sumo category can not improve much more, you can put more sensors in robots or spend more in motors, but in general the lack of a complex environment makes this competition and almost industrial scenario, there is no 鈥渟ervice robotics鈥 involved, it is just a strong robot with little intelligence in a very controlled scenario. For example: winners robots are programmed with microcontrollers and of course there is no pattern matching or artificial vision, just the most expensive and fast industrial sensors.
  • The price is what matters: Is practically impossible to see a robot winning that is not of the highest possible price, it is similar to 鈥淩obot Wars鈥 in that budget plays the primary role when it comes to scoring among the best, making it sad in comparison with other categories where technical quality and creativity plays a major role.
  • The show is limited and unappreciable: Sumo matches are decided in less that half a second usually, making it boring to watch, also even with slow mos, because one move usually decides it all, and if that is not the case then there is no appreciation of the algorithmics involved in the match, it just looks like a sumo turning around scanning for other robots.
  • Cheating and rule stretching plays a major role: The oldest cheat in sumo 3kgs is making the robot start before the 5 second limit, this has happened since the category started, but from time to time a rule changes makes it possible for this to happen again. One workaround is to make the judge mark the beginning of the match, but this makes the competition even less human-approachable as there is zero participation from the builders in the match, not even starting the robot. In the All Japan one year two of the favorite robots were disqualified for damaging the tatami, which is a pretty ambiguous decision to take as a judge, this means that 鈥渞elatively damaging鈥 the tatami is a factor in winning.

As of now Sumo with wheels is a category that should be left to events like Hobocon or kids competitions or even 鈥渃losed kits鈥 events, but trying to get Sumo to University or Professional grade is an error that we learned not to do in the last years. There was a moment for Sumo to be innovative and effort-related and that was when programming a microcontroller was a challenge, now that is just clicking two buttons in Arduino, whoever decided to introduce metallic tatamis, I don't know what he was thinking, clearly not in human-approachable robotics.

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