YASKAWA BUSHIDO PROJECT

Machii Isao is an Iaido master and an expert sword wielder.  He holds five Guinness World Records including “fastest 1,000 iaido sword cuts (36 min 4 sec)” and “most iaido sword cuts to one mat” (8), but you might know him as the real-life “fruit ninja” if you saw some of his stints up on YouTube, including slicing a BB pellet in half as it was fired towards him at 200 mph.

It’s a rare sight indeed to see such a massive display of both showmanship and art. But what happens when you pair a world-class swordsman, like Machi Isao, with an industrial robot, like MOTOMAN-MH24. Well, I won’t bore you with too many details, but suffice to say we’re in for quite the show.

samurai bot

Image: YASKAWA BUSHIDO PROJECT

Of course, the two didn’t battle each other, but competed in Iaido tests like cutting mats and flowers in various cross-sectional directions. A highlight was when the robot horizontally sliced string beans measuring just 1cm in thickness!

At the end, the ultimate test unfolds: the famous 1,000 iaido sword cut challenge. Ultimately, both man and machine end up victorious, leaving behind a litter of straw and sweat as a testament to the very first “Senbongiri battle between the pinnacle of robotics and the peak of humanity.”

It was no easy feat to program the Motoman-mh24- – a high precision industrial robot developed by one of the leading Japanese corporations in the field, Yaskawa. First, a 3D motion-detection suit strapped to Machii’s body recorded every breath and subtle movement of the sword he made.

These same movements are then inputted into the robot’s memory, which acts as a mechanical copy cat — quite similar to the robot chef we mentioned earlier on ZME.  Secondly, giving a freakin’ samurai sword to a robot can be dangerous.

The katana used by the bot was a high-quality blade from the Edo Period personally selected by Mr. Machii. Quality or not, that didn’t stop the bot from breaking a sword or two. Maybe that’s why the cameraman had to wear an armor and helmet at all times.

Scene from the making of. Image: YASKAWA BUSHIDO PROJECT

Scene from the making of. Image: YASKAWA BUSHIDO PROJECT

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