While plenty of skill, financial investment, and time is put into building robots that can aide humanity, the military, and make our lives easier, there's also a place in the world for the more, well, crappier type of robot, the kind that doesn't really do much at all. And that place is the annual Hebocon competition.
Hebocon sees poorly built robots battle each other in "stunningly crappy sumo matches." It's a celebration of badly performing robots—some are so utterly shit they can barely move forward—built by people who lack the technical expertise to create a proper robot. Not only that, but it's a place where that is totally OK, better than OK, it's desired. After all, even crappy robots need some love too and a place to meet other crappy robots.
And battle them to the death.
The name of the championship comes from the Japanese word "Heboi." Which aptly enough means “crappy,” “unperfected,” “poor in quality,” or “poor in ability” and in the Hebocon competition it is in reference to the robots and the people who build them.
"Focus on how you can avoid using anything technical, and only try out ridiculous ideas you've never seen or heard of in your life. If things aren't looking good, then you have the right to participate in Hebocon." says their website.
The championship was founded by Hiroki Ishikawa and the inaugural event took place in 2014 in Tokyo. It was originally meant as a joke but it's grown hugely in popularity over the years and has been covered by the media. So now it's become a popular event which has branched out and now takes place in 25 countries across the globe.
2016 saw the first international contest take place, meaning it became the Hebocon World Championship and robots from across the world could enter. The bots on offer featured everything from sex toys on wheels to repurposed Happy Meals to a motorized plastic cup of noodles.
The contest awarded both the winner, the runner-up and gave out a special "The most Heboi award" voted for by the judges. But, Hebocon isn't about winning, because as the website states, "True Happiness can only be achieved through fighting hard, and then losing."