Float like a botterfly: This robotic punching bag will dodge your blows

When robots eventually rise up, they will do so with force. They will kick in our doors, drag us out by our ankles, and make us repent for every lewd question we ever asked Siri.

That day is hopefully some ways away.

But in 2018, the robot revolt is playing out in a much more subtle fashion. Not with the brute force of Mike Tyson’s uppercut but with the subtle jukes and fades of Muhammad Ali.

Enter BotBoxer. From what we can tell, it’s the first robotic punching bag designed to simulate a real opponent with the added bonus of making you look like a fumbling fool. Unlike your boring old punching bag, BotBoxer can “see,” “feel,” and “react.” It can dodge punches, nonverbally taunt, and maybe even train you into a better boxer.

Developed by sports simulator company SkyTechSport, BotBoxer works something like an arcade game.

It’s engaged and calibrated using a control panel next to the punching bag. Once powered on, the machine then uses an array of sensors that enable it to track and dodge oncoming punches.

Alex Golunov, project leader at SkyTechSport, told Digital Trends, “When you press ‘box,’ you will notice two lines of infrared illuminators light up on both sides of the fence of the machine. At that moment, we engage a system of high-speed cameras that track the position of fists, elbows, shoulders, and torso. We then use this data to predict where your punch will be coming from and engage three electric motors to move the target away from the oncoming blow.”

SkyTechSport designed Botboxer to be faster than professionals. Whereas average human reaction time is about 230 microseconds, and a pro’s reaction time is about 150 microseconds, BotBoxer, when dialed up to 10, can react in just 75 microseconds.

Olympic medalist Tony Jeffries had a go at BotBoxer and said, “That bag is unbelievable. I know I can punch fast, but this thing was even faster! Is this the future for boxing training?”

Maybe for you, Jeffries, but it’s doubtful most amateurs will see the robotic bag in a gym near them. SkyTechSport is currently taking $990 deposits on the $24,900 machine, which is scheduled to ship in September.

Until then, free demonstrations are being held every Tuesday and Thursday in Los Angeles at 5553 Hollywood Boulevard. So go spar a robot and tell us how it goes.

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