Cloudrobots: Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots reborn

If you’re old enough to remember the original Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, you’d never mistake the stiff, jerky movements of those small plastic combatants for the smooth, cat-like moves of boxing legends such as Muhammad Ali or Smokin’ Joe Frazier. Cloudrobot aims to change that.

At Toy Fair 2013 in New York, TTTech, a Hungary-based robotics company, showed off a prototype of Cloudrobot, a sophisticated, smooth-moving fighting robot that can bob and weave and duck as it throws jabs and hooks at its opponent. The only thing missing was the trash talking—but that can be supplied by the humans who manage them with remote control units.

During a demonstration in the company’s small Toy Fair 2013 booth, two tough-looking black aluminum Cloudrobots with small boxing gloves sparred using punches and feints that looked fairly believable. There were no knockdowns, but the winning robot made sure onlookers knew it by raising its arms.

In addition to the remote controls, the Cloudrobots can be controlled with smartphone apps or even over the Internet with human combatants in distant locations. In other words, someone with two Cloudrobots in Budapest and an opponent with two units in New York could fight over the Internet and have the same fight occurring in two places with every punch and step mimicked in both locations.

Balint Helyes, CTO of TTTech, said his company was at Toy Fair 2013 looking for partners who could help remake the Cloudrobot prototypes into affordable consumer toys and market them. While the prototype robots looked like finished products, they had numerous external wires linking their moving parts—a shortcoming that will be addressed before Cloudrobots go into mass production, said Helyes.

He said he was hoping that manufacturing partners could be found and a consumer product brought to market in a year or so. That gives plenty of time for prospective cyber-pugilists to polish their trash talk.

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