Iaijutsu is a deadly Japanese sword fighting technique first developed nearly 1300 years ago.
While sword fighting has fallen by the wayside due to modern warfare techniques, Iaijutsu is still practiced as a form of exercise, and there are competitions for modern-day samurais to show off their skills.
Isao Machii, a five time world champion in the art of Iaijutsu, teamed up with robotics company Yaskawa in order to teach these kitana-wielding skills to the one-armed Motoman MH24 robot. The "Yaskawa Bushido Project" imparted Machii's technique onto the machine by covering the samurai with motion-capturing sensors in order to make a 3D rendering of the sword's path and angle during each cut. This information was then uploaded to the robot's programming, effectively teaching it how to make precise, powerful cuts all on its own
When the rise of the machines comes, as Arnold Schwarzenegger has all but promised us, it's probably best to steer clear of this one. After the robot arm was fully trained in the finer points of Iaijutsu, it performed in a contest against Machii himself. When it came down to Man vs. Machine, the robot clearly ran away with the competition.
First, it learned the four basic directions in which to cut.
It then demonstrated its strength and precision with a downward diagonal cut.
An upward cut was used to show a flower who was boss.
It used the horizontal cut to show how quickly it could blast through a line of fruit.
The true test of the robot’s agility came when it was able to split a pea pod right along the seam, as if it were nothing.
The real test came when the robot and Machii raced to see who could make 1000 cuts the fastest.
This, of course, is where the robot had its true chance to shine. During this exercise in stamina, Machii's muscles began to fatigue over time, causing the samurai to show clear signs of exhaustion. The robot did not have that problem, and was able to utilize the same technique and level of effort into its 1000th cut as it did on the very first.