Punching Pro - a sparring apparatus that fights back
By Ben Coxworth
April 12, 2011
Kris Tressider may not be a boxer, but he is a fitness nut with a background in gymnastics and martial arts. It therefore isn't surprising that some time ago, the Australian draftsman invested in a punching bag to add to his daily workout. It wasn't long, however, before he began to get bored of simply slugging away at the defenseless bag. To make things more interesting, he created the Punching Pro – a one-off sparring apparatus that is built not only to receive blows, but also to deliver them via its extending robotic arms.
The Punching Pro's articulated steel arms are driven by two 12-volt windshield wiper motors, which run off mains power. Each arm swivels on a golf-cart-wheel-derived rotational shoulder axis, and incorporates a bending cable-controlled elbow. This feature allows the arms to tuck, swing and extend, not unlike a human's.
The height of the apparatus and the reach of the arms can be adjusted to suit individual users, as can the speed at which the device throws punches. Weights can be added to its base, to keep it stable.
While a cam mechanism ensures that the arms will always swing in a non-conflicting alternating left-right pattern, individual controls for each arm are said to add a degree of unpredictability to the Pro's actions. A third motor can also be added, which introduces random combinations of hooks and jabs to the mix.
A padded torso absorbs what body shots the user is able to get in, while the spring-loaded neck causes the head to snap back when receiving blows. When blocked by the user, the arms pause without affecting the internal timing mechanism – this is said to lower the risk of the device actually harming its human sparring partner.
"I have made recent modifications to the drive system to make the arms a lot more flexible and able to take a lot more punishment," Tressider told Gizmag. "The next step is to start working on the software side of things so that it can change modes automatically (it has hundreds of different modes which are currently changed manually with dials and switches).
I have had some interest from various boxing clubs and other individuals who are keen to test out the robot, and even try to buy one, but really I am still seeking funding or investment to help bring the product to the next level, and to the market."
Ultimately, Kris hopes to be able to sell the Punching Pro for a retail price of under US$1,000.