Meet Qibbot: World's fastest human-controlled fighting bot

A three-member team spent four years building the low-latency bot which responds faster than the time it takes for an eye to blink.
Ameya Paleja
Qibbot in action during its match with Ai-guided bot
Qibbot in action during its match with Ai-guided bot

Qibbot/ YouTube 

Shandong, China-based Qibot Robot Company claims to have built the world's fastest boxer bot. Standing over six feet (1.9 m) tall, the bot is a single-handed robot that can be teleoperated and has a response delay time of just 12 milliseconds, which according to the company, makes it the world's fastest, the South China Morning Post reported.

Just as robots are being built to replace humans in tedious and repetitive tasks, they are also great alternatives facing violence. Militaries worldwide are looking to increase the use of drones to keep humans out of danger zones, and robot wars aren't an alien concept for most people today.

If you have watched the Hugh Jackman-starred Real Steel or Guillermo del Toro-directed Pacific Rim, you are no stranger to big robots battling it out, controlled by their human handlers. What these science fiction features do not focus on, however, is the typical delay that robots take in processing these commands.

Building the world's fastest telebot

Qibo founder Geng Tao noticed the delays associated with telerobots and found that as many as 95 percent of these bots were built for medium-to-low-speed tasks. Even among them, the delay in responses is quite noticeable, exceeding 100 milliseconds.

Only a few robots have achieved super-low latency, but these are small in size, and their teleoperation is quite complex. So, Tao set his team an uphill challenge of building a big bot with low latency.

A three-member team began working on it in 2019 and spent the next three years developing a first-generation model. Another year later, Qibbot was unveiled with one arm that can extend nearly five feet (1.5 m) and pack quite a punch.

To optimize speed and performance concerns, the team focused on addressing the mechanical and controller challenges on the bot. In the control algorithm, the team introduced a "feed-forward" controller alongside the feedback controller, which is standard for such systems. The new controller's job is to anticipate system delays and respond to offset latency caused by mechanical systems and virtual reality devices used by human controllers.

Fight it out with AI

To test how well Qibbot responds, the team set up a boxing match with another bot guided by artificial intelligence (AI). The team equipped the AI with tools to help it generate fighting strategies, make sense of attacks and defense, and even learn the skill on the go. The AI-guided bot and Qibbot then faced off in this match, moments of which were captured in the clip below.

The Qibbot team claims that it achieved a low latency of 12 milliseconds which is much shorter than the time it takes to blink an eye and helps the controller avoid feeling the latency.

The team is improving the bot further, equipping it with another arm and more joints to make its movements smoother.