In the thrilling final fight scene in the 2011 Hollywood sci-fi hit Real Steel, two colossal robots engage in an electrifying boxing match under the guidance of their human handlers.

Now, that spectacle has been brought to life, thanks to a Chinese team of engineers and their spectacular creation – Qibbot.

A teleoperated one-armed robot designed to mirror the real movements of a skilled human fighter, Qibbot takes its cues from its operators – just like “Atom” in Real Steel, operated by Hugh Jackman’s underdog protagonist Charlie, a former boxer who guides his robot to that extraordinary comeback.

Like Charlie, the operators of Qibbot can control its actions from the sidelines, as a ringside coach might do.

The Qibo Robot Company in China’s eastern Shandong province, which developed the Qibbot, recently posted a demonstration video online that has so far attracted thousands of views.

In it, Qibbot is shown to display a mind-boggling latency or response delay time of only 12 milliseconds – a new height for teleoperated robot systems. It is the “world’s fastest” telerobot, its creators claim on the company website.

The primary technical challenge for fast teleoperated robots is not their speed itself but responsiveness relative to the operator’s actions.

In scenarios such as sports competitions, crime-fighting, military operations and more, the robot’s response time is of utmost importance – as even the slightest delay can have severe consequences.

Qibo Robot founder Geng Tao said more than 95 per cent of teleoperated robots across the world are designed for medium to low-speed tasks, and exhibit noticeable delays in response, with latencies usually exceeding 100 milliseconds.

In contrast, Qibbot boasts an impressively low latency of just 12 milliseconds during high-speed operations, which is less than 1/15th of the time it takes to blink, Geng told the Post on Tuesday. This means operators can hardly feel the latency, he said.

Teleoperated robots rely on a combination of factors to optimise speed and performance. To achieve remarkable speed and extremely low latency, the Qibbot team focused on addressing mechanical and controller challenges.

For Qibbot’s control algorithm, Geng and his colleagues introduced a novel “feed-forward” controller in addition to the conventional feedback controller. This real-time predictor anticipates system delays and responds in advance, offsetting some of the latency caused by mechanical systems and virtual reality devices.

Rather than mainstream industrial robots designed to replace humans in monotonous, labour-intensive or hazardous tasks, developing a futuristic robot with cutting-edge features – akin to Boston Dynamics’ agile humanoid robot Atlas – had been a dream and vision for Geng and his colleagues, he told the Post.

Worldwide, only a few robots have achieved super-low latency rapid teleoperation, but they are small in size, and their teleoperation devices are complex. This is where Qibbot stands tall – as high as 1.9 metres (6.2 feet).

Its arm extends to 1.5m and the single-armed version alone weighs as much as 140kg (307 pounds).

“Boxing robots should be big,” Geng said.

The thunderous punches, impactful collisions, and floor vibrations caused by the 140kg robot’s swift movements would deliver a breathtaking and slightly fearful experience, he added.

The Qibbot project was initiated in 2019, and it took the team three years to develop the first-generation model. It then took another year of fine-tuning before the Qibbot was launched in June.

Geng said the three-member team is planning to create an upgraded version of Qibbot by the end of this year, with two arms, more joints in each arm and smoother moves.

According to