The battling bots in Hugh Jackman's Real Steel look far too CG to get me excited over the idea of programmed pugilists battling to the death. But this real life set of giant, tele-operated robotic arms are without doubt the future of televised combat. And probably handy for doing real work too.
Built by Salt Lake City's Raytheon-Sarcos, the massive arms are attached to a modified Ditch Witch making them fully mobile, and are controlled by a human operator who's strapped into what's often referred to as a Waldo system. The operator's shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand movements are all translated to the robotic arms in real time, requiring absolutely no previous training. And the rig even provides force feedback as the user moves, so they know when the arms have lifted something particularly heavy, or hit something immovable.
Unfortunately the limited imaginations of the engineers who built the arms see it primarily being used in dangerous working conditions, even being remotely operated from miles away in situations that are inhospitable to humans. But I predict it won't be long until we see a couple of these battling it out in a back alley. [KSL News Utah via Geekologie]