At least since 1927’s “Metropolis,” and continuing into the modern era with “Transformers” and this summer’s anticipated blockbuster “Pacific Rim,” robots have been a fixture in movies and television. Some of the mechanized creations have become popular characters in their own right, from Robby the Robot of “Forbidden Planet” and the nameless robot in TV’s “Lost in Space” to those lovable droids R2-D2 and C-3PO in “Star Wars,” to name just a few.
A burgeoning TV and movie genre over the years has pitted robots in battle against one another, and for a while, the “battling robots” TV trend was popular, most notably in the Comedy Central series “BattleBots.” But that series featured robots created by home inventors doing battle. “Robot Combat League,” premiering Tuesday, Feb. 26, on Syfy, ups the ante, combining elements of “BattleBots” with cinematic robotics.
Hosted by former WWE star Chris Jericho, “Robot Combat League” features tournament-style gladiatorial combat between 8-foot-tall state-of-the-art humanoid robots controlled by “robo-jockeys.” (Think a realistic version of the movie “Real Steel.”) The series features 12 teams consisting of a fighter (the “robo-jockey”) and a robotics engineer (the “robo-tech”) from various backgrounds. Each team is paired with a unique robot and will fight in a competition using a high-tech exo-suit that translates the jockey’s movements to the robot.
The robots are designed and created by robotics expert Mark Setrakian, who has developed lifesaving robotic systems and also pioneered cutting-edge creature effects, animatronics and control technology for films such as “Men in Black” and “Hellboy.”
Setrakian combined his study of biology with engineering to create robots with uncanny organic movement. And they look pretty cool, as well – which is part of the reason why audiences have been drawn to robots for the past century.