Tabletop battle robot does tai chi, karate

Is it a video game come to life, an educational toy, or a developer's platform? Yup, says the company behind it.

What is it about humans? We see a robot, we immediately want to know how it'll fare in battle against another robot.

Playing right into that hardwired need is a new home robot from Pilot Labs called the Moorebot Zeus Battle Robot, which is now available on Amazon.

Living up to its name, the platform was designed to fight other robots. Given what's under the hood, this real-life avatar seems more than capable of fulfilling that primary objective.

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"This might be most competitive fighter and robot athlete in the world," says Jun Ye, CEO of Shenzhen-based Pilot Labs. "From Boxing to Kung Fu to Karate to Robot Olympics."

At 14 inches and nearly five pounds, this thing is hefty. The humanoid is actuated by 22 metal-geared servo motors, each rated with a 25Kg punch force. The little fighter actually delivers punches at a speed of 150m/sec, meaning it's only a matter of time before someone accidentally gets their teeth knocked in messing around with one of these.

Although the robot is designed to fight other robots -- and in particular other Zeus robots, since consumers don't have many off-the-shelf battle bot options -- Pilot Labs is also marketing Zeus to hobbyists and developers who might use the robot as a platform for further customization.

Because you assemble the robot at home, Zeus is also being marketed as an educational toy that can teach kids (the big kind as well as the little ones) about robotics.

With that fragmented marketing strategy, Pilot Labs could be in for a bumpy launch. The educational robot market is already saturated, with brands like Lego and Wonder Workshop out to solid leads.

The market for battle robots, meanwhile, isn't well-developed; the hobby remains niche worldwide.

As a remote controlled humanoid and not an autonomous sensor platform, it's unclear how useful Zeus would be to robotics developers. Considering it costs $1600, vying for customers in any of these three challenging markets would be tough, but tackling all three at the same time seems unwise.

Still, for unbridled cool factor I'm guessing this robot will gain some early adopters, and it could become an underground hit via YouTube, which might spur sales.

Zeus operates for about 50 minutes on a charge. It comes preprogrammed with a number of fighting moves, and it can also be customized with an included graphical programming tool.