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Combining Video Games with Real Robot Battles

Reach Robotics' prototypes, Brute and Berserker, fight it out. Photo courtesy of Reach Robotics.
Reach Robotics’ prototypes, Brute and Berserker, fight it out. Photo courtesy of Reach Robotics.

A small company in England is developing an interesting game that combines mobile apps with real-world, robotic combat. Using smart devices, players tell their robots — called Mecha Monsters — which actions to take in battle. Winning Mecha Monsters can level up to gain new skills.

“It’s kind of like Pokemon in real life,” explains Silas Adekunle,  CEO of Reach Robotics. Adekunle says he came up with the idea of combining bots and apps while teaching kids about robotics. “By adding gaming concepts to my lessons students were a lot more engaged,” he says.

But existing products didn’t meet his needs or expectations. So he set out to develop his own game, and founded Reach while completing his studies at Bristol Robotics Lab.

Each four-legged, Mecha Monster prototype weighs 1.3 pounds and is approximately 7.4 inches long and 3.5 inches high when in a crouched position. They connect to smart devices via Bluetooth and include an infrared camera and tracking system.

So far, Adekunle has developed two prototypes called Brute and Berserker. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Adekunle envisions players customizing their bots by purchasing additional shields. “One shield might give more defense, but slow you down a bit,” he explains. So players will have to consider their purchases wisely. Each shield will also include more information about the Mecha Monsters universe. Adekunle believes the story will be important for the game’s ongoing success.

Reach Robotics is currently looking for a second round of seed funding to perfect their prototypes. Expect a crowdfunding campaign in 2015, Adekunle says, when the bots are ready for manufacturing.

Players control their Mecha Monsters using smart devices, telling them which battle move to perform next. Photo courtesy of Reach Robotics.
Players control dueling Mecha Monsters using smart devices. Photo courtesy of Reach Robotics.