Your Crappy Robot Can Duke It Out At Hebocon

A contest for the humble, everyday robot maker.
August 9, 2016, 3:06pm

It's cute, it's crummy, it's completely second rate—it's Hebocon, a contest for robots made by the common, "technically-unskilled" man.

Sure it'd be cool to build an ultra cool, technologically advanced robot and have it face off against other robots of its caliber, but let's be realistic: how many of us really have the engineering acumen, or the time, to build a robot like that and enroll it in an elite contest like BattleBots? Besides, the humble Hebocon bots make this makeshift contest so endearing.

Hebocon began in Japan in 2014 and has spread now to 25 countries. The rules are pretty basic: if you fall over, or accidentally fall out of the sumo ring, you're out. And in the case of a tie, the robot who travels the farthest across the table wins.

The contest's handicap system is meant to discourage higher tech robots. As this video by Hebocon UK host Tom Scott describes, "Hebocon is now about winning. It's about heboiness." In other words, the scrappier the better, just so long as your makeshift bot makes it through the contest.

With all standards out the window, robots entered into Hebocon come in all shapes and sizes, with their equalizing factor being how little each of them can actually accomplish. As pictured in the video, there's the stuffed animal Pikachu bot, the mini toilet bot, Coca Cola can bot, and the doll bot with a detached leg and a detached head, strewn willy nilly upon a bot wheelchair.

While these robots are next to useless, watching them duke it out is easily as entertaining as watching legitimate robots in legitimate contests with real rules and standards. Hebocon is so bad it's good.