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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

No Holds Barred: Ross Mead, Robo-Tech on Robot Combat League 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman speaks with Robot Combat League robo-tech Ross Mead.

A robo-tech controls the bottom half of the eight-foot tall robots, with the top half controlled by a robo-jockey, as these robots are sent to fight one another in the Robot Combat League.

When Ross Mead is not helping to smash giant robots, he is a PhD research student at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, focusing, of course on robotics. While his goal there is to help develop robots which could assist people in their homes and daily lives, his experience in the Robot Combat League has left its mark on him.

"I was Iron Man," he said in this interview, which was recorded Wednesday on Skype. "You can't get away from the superhero aspect of this. I was driving this gigantic robot. No one can really say that. There are 24 people on the planet Earth who can say that right now. That's pretty incredible. That's really freaking awesome."

Adding that he already missed doing the show, whose episodes have already all been filmed, and that he would do it again, he said, "I wish everyone could experience it because it was absolutely incredible. It's a life-changing experience."

We get our first chance to see Ross Mead in action this coming Tuesday, March 12, when he teams with MMA fighter Andrew Montanez on the robot A.X.E. as it battles Game Over. In the other fight on that show, Robo Hammer, with MMA fighter Amanda Lucas as the robo-jockey, fights Drone Strike.

The Robot Combat League is telecast on the Syfy network in the U.S. and on Space in Canada.

Our discussion with him also touched on the relation of human fighting to robot fighting. He has some training in boxing and martial arts and is a fan of MMA, but he explained just how a background in human fighting is both "a blessing and a curse" for developing techniques for robot fighting. We discussed just where the technology is at now for robot fighting, some of the ethical questions of it as this new sport evolves, how many including boxing trainer Freddy Roach believe that robot fighting may one day replace or surpass human fighting in popularity, how he got involved with it, and much more.

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