I decided to create a robot swordsman for my story and I would like to know exactly what are the different advantages he would possess over biological opponents. Also what design choices would make him a better swordsman? The only restrictions I have with this character are that he must be humanoid and the swords he uses aren't attached to his body.

What kind of design would he have? What inhuman characteristics would aid in swordsmanship? What kind of foul play can he add to his design to punish cheating opponents? What upgrades could make him superior to a human? How would his swordplay be different from a humans? What would be the full extent of his abilities?

Koji concept art from Alexander Snow

Possibly the remains of a gladiatorial robot (for entertainment against other robots like in Real Steel) this android was recovered by a wealthy company, who decided to use the robot as a bodyguard of sorts. His original design and programming where kept mostly the same but he also received some upgrades. The crude materials he was made of were replaced, his processors were upgraded with the best hard- and software available. (since this robot is in a futuristic setting lets not worry too much about the technology.)

So far his personality is that of a charismatic and noble warrior. He overwhelms his foes and gives them handicaps (possibly to mock them). For example if his opponent has an injured leg he will stop using the same leg. He plays fair so to speak, but whenever an opponent cheats he will cheat back. He has many tricks up his sleeve due to his gladiatorial background. He is occasionally used as a training robot, so he knows to go easy on human opponents.

enter image description here

What I'm looking for is what cheats, dirty tricks and upgrades would make a robot fencer overpowered, despite bringing a sword to a gunfight.

If you have questions simply comment and editing shall ensue. ps (please avoid putting my question on hold)

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    $\begingroup$ You asking some technical questions (like hydraulics vs artificial muscle fiber). We can't make a viable humanoid swordsman robot with today's technology. But we can make a superior swordsman robot with slightly futuristic one. Without knowing the limits of technology, it's difficult to answer this question. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 17:47
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    $\begingroup$ Perfect depth perception is an overwhelming advantage on its own. Humans will always defend near misses, a robot will ignore a slash that's a few millimeters short and counter instead. On top of that because the robot will move the minimum amount on parries and ripostes it will be much quicker than a human. (Again because humans will typically parry slightly further than the bare minimum. Even if a human parries a thrust so it misses by 3 cm that's an additional 3 cm the sword must travel on the counter.) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 23:14
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    $\begingroup$ If the opponent cheats he simply starts using 90% of his servo motor's max power. Boom, any human opponent defeated instantly, because they can't even block his hits. It was only a fair fight in the beginning because the robod massively handicapped his strength. You don't need any more tricks for dueling, because even against ranged opponents he can simply throw his sword. With perfect precision and prediction he will always hit $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 11:41
  • $\begingroup$ The simplest one is reaction time, electronics can react orders of magnitude faster than neurological connections. the robot has gut the humans throat before the human even knows he moved. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ My problem is why would this robot use swords in the first place? You'd better have a great explanation. Otherwise, why wouldn't it just use guns/lasers/other far more effective weapons? $\endgroup$
    – user91988
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 21:01

12 Answers 12


The advantages of a robot swordsman is a diffused set of vital functions. Something I point out a lot is that humans aren't really designed for combat, a especially considering the number of spots on our body that would mean instant death, or lifelong incapacitation. A robot, on the other metal hand, does not need suffer from this. Redundancies would go a long way towards making a robot all but unbeatable. (I'm assuming for this context that the humans have swords which can cut through the robot's metal body.)

Take, for instance, a question of handedness. A robot could use his right hand as easily as his left when it comes to swordplay, but only an ambidextrous swordsmaster would claim the same ability. So a robot would be fine losing a hand in combat to deliver a crippling blow, as the robot would simply switch hands.

Similarly with most cuts. Stab a man high in the chest and you're bound to hit something vital, be it the heart or lungs, and it's quite difficult to fight with that kind of injury. A robot doesn't need lungs, and with integrated power sources throughout it's body, one stab will hardly cripple it.

And, of course, any injury made to a robot can be repaired by engineers in a matter of hours. A human would need days of rest, and is incapable of recovering from certain wounds, such as regrowing limbs.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ you could add as well that being a robot it isn't limited to the material strength of muscle and bone and as such can use pneumatic or hydraulic pumps instead making them faster and stronger. Being a robot there's also no reason it has to be strictly confined to human physiology, it could have extendable arms a-la "go go gadget arms" or any number of other unfair techniques $\endgroup$
    – BKlassen
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ You could also equip the robot with hand-shaped feet so that in case it's arms are cut off, it can wield the sword using it's feet. Just make sure that all the joints have inhuman degrees of motions and you're set. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Seallussus Compare to, say, a crocodile, tiger, or eagle. That's not to say humans can't be deadly, even bare-handed - we're just not as good at it. The advantage humans possess is the mind. Humans were designed to use it and manipulate tools. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 0:16
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    $\begingroup$ Even an ambi-dextrous sword-master wouldn't be able to switch to their other hand when losing their primary one; they'd be in shock and bleeding to death. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 9:27
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    $\begingroup$ I know someone who doesn't have a dominant hand. His mother says he isn't ambidexterous, he is ambi-clumsy; apparently this is the usual situation. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 15:30

It is not a killing machine. It is a fencing master.

If the goal of the maker were to make a killing machine he would not make a swordsman. But that is not the goal: this robot prioritizes fair play and a level playing field over victory. It is bound by rules. It is a fencing robot.

The robot must therefore be defeatable by another swordsman. This is not a trivial attribute. It is not easy to hurt a machine with a sword. The swordsman robot has built in spots where a strike equals a win. Fortunately fencing as a sport already has that - a heart patch on the fencing suit. Your robot might have more than just a heart patch - places where an allowed strike equals a win and places where a strike equals a debility (noted example - a leg out of commission). If the robot is defeated it congratulates its opponent, concedes and leaves the field. Likewise the robot will stop short of killing its opponent, preferring him or her to yield. This is how the Three Musketeers fought - rule bound and the object being to defeat your opponent and make him yield (then break his sword!); killing him was an occasional but undesired outcome.

Cheating need not be punished. Cheating does not help. If kicking is against the robot's rules then if your robot is kicked, it will not help its opponent. The robot will verbally notify its opponent that the move is disallowed. A surprise attack will be considered notification that a fight is desired. But the robot is seriously strong and basically impervious to harm. Its maker wanted it to be able to fight match after match, indefinitely.

Your robot was actually created as an instructional tool. This is made evident because the humiliation it causes its opponent is due to its running commentary and advice as regards technique. It will criticize but it also compliments good technique. Also if it wins too fast it will invite its opponent to try again. The opponent so invited might not realize the robot considers him or her to have lost.

To defeat it you must play by its rules; otherwise the best you can hope for is to avoid it. This is frightening to its opponents. It is profoundly irritating to its allies who want it to be a war machine.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You could have his current owners have put in a software update to turn the fencing master into a killing machine. The coders who wrote that update did not have the same skills as the original programmer. The interface is pretty choppy. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ Great (and amusing) frame-challenge. This answer doesn't really address the technical design aspects of the OP ("what design choices would make him a better swordsman?", "What kind of muscles should he use?", "How would his swordplay be different from a humans?") The concept of the robot as an educational tool suggests answers to some of these (it may have multiple modes / difficulty settings. It may also be a bodyguard in addition to a tutor - so it tries to "train" opponents it perceives as its "students", but to efficiently incapacitate "threats". etc. etc. etc.) $\endgroup$
    – G0BLiN
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 15:02
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    $\begingroup$ You could also have its current owners / companions unaware of its original purpose - by random chance (or the machinations of someone who does understand its purpose and operation) the robot now perceives them as its "wards" - it strives to educate them (and "their peers"?) while defending them from threats - the key to this differentiation can be something superficial such as having some characteristics of the accent of the nobility of a certain nation (possibly defunct long ago), wearing a certain type of clothing, wielding a certain weapon etc. $\endgroup$
    – G0BLiN
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ You can see in my phrasing that this android is considered a character, not property. Therefore it is better to refer to it as "he". $\endgroup$
    – user69494
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ @G0BLiN - I really like your idea that this robot's current company is unaware of its original purpose! When that becomes clear later in the story a lot of its unusual behaviors will make more sense. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 15:32

For a battlefield robot that fights with swords, a humanoid frame is actually what you would try to avoid.

Your robot will want to be able to create a stable fighting platform wherever it goes, so it will likely have a low center of gravity and multiple legs. Bonus points for being able to climb walls and so on, Douglas Fairbanks Jr will have nothing on this. If each leg ends in an actuator that allows it to wield a sword at the same time, then it could move and fight in any direction. Depending on the design, it might also be able to use two swords at once, or fight "Italian" style with a sword and dagger or cloak.

enter image description here

Wouldn't giving this a sword be a great idea?

enter image description here

Italian style fencing

Given the desire for all terrain movement and possible climbing, the leg joints will not move in the same manner as human arm or leg joints, so trying to figure out what strike or parry is being used will be difficult. With fast and effective articulation in manners that no human could match, it will also be able to create systems of strikes and parries that no human could do, and it would have the inhuman reflexes to be able to throw the sword in the air and catch it with a different limb, or accurately pass the sword to a fellow swords-robot.

enter image description here

Replace the wheels with hands and the six legged robot wins

Of course, in the real world swords were rapidly overtaken by pole arms and smashing weapons to provide leverage and striking power that a sword could not, and your robot will be opposed by a huge arsenal of medieval weapons invented to deal with armoured knights. Even enemy robots wielding halberds will be able to defeat a swords wielding robot, and robot archers could span steel crossbows with over 1200 lbs of draw weight with ease.

enter image description here

Fighting with edged weapons is like this

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    $\begingroup$ I was thinking of mini-guardians from Breath of the wild: a stable platform with 4+ sturdy legs and independent lighter/retractable fighting arms $\endgroup$
    – Borgh
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 11:23

Swordman has to be fast.

Memory alloys are slow; they might be used to make his body/armor self-repair the dents.

Does "Actuators" mean electric motors, like in modern robots? They are precise, but I think you will face serious tradeoff between speed and fragility here -- fast-spinning gears will be damaged by any serious jolt, and if the motion is forcefully resisted (as in parrying), the electric motor can burn out.

Hydrolics are more reliable (and commonly used in construction equipment), but I am not sure of their speed.

Artificial muscles are in prototype stage in RL, so their full potential is stuff of sci-fi, and you can imagine them any way you want. Like human muscles, they will be vulnerable to cuts and tears.

I am actully thinking an idea of a linear motor: basically a heavy piece of iron pushed up/down a shaft by electromagnets placed around it. It should be fast, simple and resistant to jolts.

In any case, your swordsman can make himself stronger and a faster at will (at the cost of battery charge)

Addition on swordplay: a mechanic swordman can spin a sword (like general Griveous in Star War prequels). This will be a major advantage vs. another swordman, both on offence and defense, at least vs. a sword. A chain or sturdy polearm can stop the spinning sword, but that leaves wielder open to conventional sword attacks. I would recommend a curved sword to keep it from getting caught when spun.

  • $\begingroup$ A slight correction. Artificial muscles are not science fiction, engineers have been trying to design materials that act just like muscles, with both speed and strength. You can look it up if you want. $\endgroup$
    – user69494
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 14:58
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    $\begingroup$ @LiveInAmbeR I'm fairly certain it still counts as a scifi device until someone actually produces a practical example that gets real world use. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ Hydraulics is superior to anything electric. To get all of power, accuracy and fast response you need quite heavy electric motors. Hydraulics cheats by having a central pump and directing the pressure to provide bursts of power as long as the average load is moderate—which would be the case here. And linear electric motors won't help—they'll be simpler, but very heavy, and heavy goes against agile. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 21:11

I'd say that its biggest advantage is the ability to split its attention perfectly.

Humans can talk about multitasking, but we're not really good at it. The more we split our attention, the less time we give to any one task.

Computers - and by extension, Robots - don't have that problem. Multi-core processing means that when they split their attention, they're able to process two streams of information simultaneously.

For example, where a human using two swords will often only move one at a time, both together, or have to rely on a well practiced pattern, a machine could truly move them independently, responding in real time to changing conditions without aborting anything they're doing.

They would also have lower limitations on perception. They would be able to track more that's going on around them than just the opponent's weapon in front of them, making them harder to misdirect and surprise. There's also nothing to say that they would only have one set of "eyes", so not only would having 360 vision be on the table, but so would, for instance, having something on their knuckle to better see exactly where their blade is going. And again, they can consider this all simultaneously with their physical control.

There are even ways that this strength can be used as a weakness. For instance, one of the recent technological breakthroughs was a robot that could process input on its skin. The hurdle used to be that it was just too much data to deal with, but by only processing what information changes (the way humans do) it could handle it. Taking that further, a Robot using its expanded senses that's suddenly presented with too much information might find their ability to process complex thought diminished - the same way video compression gets messy when trying to handle snow.

Still, one-on-one, or even several on one, a robot would stand a much better chance than a human in its place. Just be careful of confetti cannons.

  • $\begingroup$ Should confetti guns be weaponized then? $\endgroup$
    – user69494
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ @LiveInAmbeR That's basically what chaff is... $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 12:53
  • What is the rest of the setting like? How are they fighting? Vital questions.

  • Swordsmen exist in the fist place because of a mixture of reasons relating to limitations and trying to overcome them. For example the ideal environment for a swordsmen is 1v1 fight with no to light armor. Heavy armor changes the equation, mounted combat, shield + spear vs sword..etc. So the fist choice of creating a robot swordsmen is an odd choice to see the say.

  • However if this is an entertainment robot then we can assume that it was made for a certain level of sports, not combat. For example modern Olympic fencing is about a first touch even if you get hit, for a HEMA that is suicide. So the fighting style of the robot would basically be something like movie style fighting with big wide arcs, clashing swords, telegraphing moves...etc with the sole purpose of style and looks over simple practical killer moves. So would you like something like that or it get a different combat programming in the retrofitting?

Anyway assuming it was changed with the purpose of actual combat and, for whatever stupid reason, it was not given actual proper modern weapons and armor what can we expect?

  • Reach. Simply put the ability of a spear to hit a sword, most of the time, before the sword can hit the spear is a huge advantage in fighting. So give the thing extended arms and level the playing field. Honestly a huge game changer.

  • Disarms won't work. Simple as that.

  • Grappling and bunching. Oh boy. Actual HEMA is about getting into a fight and winning it as fast as possible. So even a master swordsmen would punch, kick, and throw sand in your face if they can. Fights are dirty business survival is good enough. So would you be willing to incorporate that? They can also grab an opponents sword mid cut.

  • Little fear being hit means that it would have a more offensive style against certain opponents while at the same time their opponents would be forced to think of a way to actually deal damage to it.

  • Being a robot it would be able to fight without an arm and a leg. That means that it won't tire or lose blood, it means that small cuts and thrusts won't work. So against a human the simplest method is letting them attack and attack and attack until they simply tire out. Same with letting their arm get chopped off, assuming the opponent has a weapon capable of that, in order to deliver a killing blow.
    They can change a hand but we can't.

  • Inhuman movements. Think about how limited our arms are. I can't strike at my back without turning my body. Well. This is a robot. So if it has arms capable of delivering a strike. That is quite a game changer. It means that no matter the angle you still can strike effectively.

  • Perfect vision in armor. Again we don't know what the are fighting against. But knights had very limited armor and that meant they either sacrificed a bit of protection or vision.
    So not only can't be armored without sacrificing vision. It also means They can see a hit coming at their back. No blind spots at all.

  • Lastly If you provide more context about the world and the expected opponents it would be better. But the limitation of tech is a huge aspect here. Does it have superhuman reflexes? Can it face swords capable of cutting throw it's armor? Are shields a thing? Are firearms a thing? I personally don't get the whole noble swordsman thing tbh. Fighting is always about winning. So why would you make a bodyguard that limits itself if the opponent is limited? "All warfare is based on deception" as they say.


If we aren't worried about technology, the swordsman could be nothing but a projection of a galaxy-sized dark-matter intelligence whose arrow of time is disconnected from ours. The position of its projection in our 4 dimensional 'brane is arbitrary, and its actions and decisions are disconnected from our causal framework.

Its advantages would then be near omnipotence at human scales, and its disadvantages would be not understanding us very well (like we don't understand ants).

If we downgrade technology sufficiently, a humanoid robot like that using a sword is going to be a novelty. They are entertainment devices, not combatants.

As a bodyguard, that would then be its primary purpose. To look flashy. Something like that isn't for serious security, it is to draw the attention of those who want to attack away from the real security.

It being a swordsman would be part of the show. A sword isn't a serious weapon, no matter how strong the wielder is, in the era of modern weaponry, let alone a future where you can build a reasonably competent robot.

So it, and its ability to fight, is a distraction. It fighting "honorably" makes perfect sense, because it fighting isn't part of the real security other than a distraction. It is applying limited force, as actually blowing someone up because they are a potential isn't great legally or PR wise. But threatening them with a sword, and if they push harder injuring them, isn't as bad.

The real security would be in the form of small, non-human form, semi-autonomous drones. And the Robot could act as a UI for the important person to interact with. If the person is a celebrity, there may be a constant swarm of press-drones nearby; the security drones would look like press drones, and would be authenticating them and ensuring they (or humans near the target) aren't armed with weapons.

Low-grade incidents, like a protestor with a creme pie (whose chemical makeup is sampled before it gets close), are intercepted by the robot bodyguard.

  • $\begingroup$ " A sword isn't a serious weapon, no matter how strong the wielder is, in the era of modern weaponry," tell that to the guy who sliced up and killed 3 policemen in a row here Germany some time back. He had a machete, they had pistols. He just walked up and sliced them open. At short range, and weapon in hand, a sword can beat a gun. $\endgroup$
    – JRE
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ @JRE I don't see your point. Individuals with guns regularly and somewhat reliably kill dozen+ people. A medium-sized rock can also beat a gun, but it also isn't a serious weapon (and hasn't been for 1000s of years). $\endgroup$
    – Yakk
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Yakk A sword is a serious weapon. It has become far more situational / less general-use, and requires more training than "point-and-click". Did you know: Most "bulletproof" (actually "bullet-resistant") jackets are almost completely useless against knives and swords, by nature of their construction? This is due to the different kinetic profile of a bullet versus a blade. While you can get jackets for both, they are extra thick and heavy - because you are basically wearing a bullet-resistant jacket and a stab-resistant one at the same time. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 13:02


A Robot is roughly made of it's physical body, it's actuators and it's electronic (perceiving unit + computing unit), all these things provide fast advantages. I will divide the advantages according to the part it derives from, let's start:

Physical Body

The physical body can be made of any craftable material


  • Material based:
    • higher tensile strength
    • higher shear strength
    • higher noth impact strength
    • and so on...
  • Design based:

    • A human leaks blood upon injury, also there is a psychological impact upon lossing a limb
    • In short robot does not care if a limb is lost, and while a human will be quickly unable to fight after lossing a limb a robot can go on forever.
    • a robot can have multiple arms and legs...
    • reach

      • When fighting opponents basically stand outside of eachothers reach and go into the opponents reach to attack. This is why when you learn for example a jab in boxing you will do a little step and jab than.

      • Why is that? Coz we are unable to react to an action done in our reach. You can teach that concept fairly easily hunting beginners hand's in stick fighting. An experienced fighter can judge the opponents reach due to body and weapon. But what if our robots arms can extend while striking?

  • Armor
    • A robot can have "perfect" armor due the material it is made of.
    • A robot could implement stuff like active armor used by tanks


  • Oxidation / Corrosion
    • Material can break down due to oxidation, and while the human body does rebuild itself the whole time, a robot could only achieve this using something like nano-technology (this is far from my field of expertise so I can't really help you with that)
  • weight
    • Our robot is most likely really heavy, and will not be able to swim. It could walk underwater, but it would not be able to cross the oceans since without a boat, since the water pressure would crush it eventually.


Bascially a robot is way harder to cut than a human, also it is way more psychologically and physically resilent to injury. But a robot does need maintenance, new lubrication, and new fuel from time to time. While it can refill lube and fuel, repairing itself is only possible within limits. Also repairs are only duable if the correct equipement and material is available. A robot can fight with as many swords as it has arms, and it can gain another gamechanging advantage if it can extend it's weapons reach.


Actuator is just an engineering term for "active" parts, like pistons, engines, and so on. So it is just the thing that is responsible that a part of your robot moves. Each motion is only possible due to one or multiple actuator responsible for it.

The standard in current industry is using more actuators, since these as well as sensors are rather cheap in the current age, half a century ago motion transition was made using less actuators. See picture below (this is just a simple example, to show what this means): Actuator example


  • Strength
    • This is quite obvious, a machine is way stronger than a human.
  • Speed
    • see above ;)


  • Lubrication
    • if material with a tight fit rest long enough on each other they can weld onto eachother see: galling
    • While it is possible to build really long lasting machines, lubrication will evantually fail.
    • Lubrication or loss of all lube will not cause the robot to immediatly cease to function, but it will do so given enough time.
  • Wear
    • All moving parts will wear down over time, even with lubrication. Meaning our robot will need spare parts / spare actuators over time.


Due to galling the robot will not like sitting deactivated in a corner for years. Also will our robot require spare parts. But it is way faster and stronger than a human can be.


This are all sensors and electronic parts linked to perception. As well as robot behaviour in general (ai).


  • processing speed
    • The reaction speed to perceived information is limited due to the clock-time of the computing unit. Meaning a robot can process information faster than the human brain, depending on the used electronics.
  • attention spotlight
    • Humans can at maximum track 4 objects at once (see attention), which have to be evenly dived between 2 spaces. Meaning we got roughly 2 threads, a robot can have multiple threads, meaning it can spread it's awareness to more objects.


  • Wear
    • Electronics break down, means we need spare parts. Also if certain parts break down the robot will cease to function until it is repaired and will be unable to repair itself.


While the robot can repair itself on a mechanical level, it is rather difficult to repair it's own electronics. Since the electronics controll it's behaviour, it would require "redundant" (well not really redundant, we could use this as seperate threads) implementations (meaning if we remove board a it will still function but loose performance) and regular checks of all it's electronic parts. Or exchange parts before they expire. However this is quite a lot of work, and there still is a chance that a part breaks down before it expires so this is all kinda whacky.

Fencing / Swordstyle

One gotta get rid of the idea of fencing and thing of butchering if thinking of a "fencing" robot. Why is that? The largest factor in any fight is physics, an expert may overcome this partly due to experience and technique, but the stronger/faster guy wins.

What will our robot do? Walk to the person, lift blade, strike at person. It's strikes will be not blockable by a human, because it is a magnitude stronger. Ignoring the isane speed possible, which would make it impossible for a human to react. So yeah it will just butcher people, no fighting, no fancy sword battle, just a robot walking up and butchering people. If it has not that behaviour it is due to the inabbility (highly doubtable if one is able to build something like this) of the constructor or due to his intention.

So our robot could wipe the entire population, that is just dependant wether the humans can faster respread to wiped areas than the robot can reach not wiped areas.


What our robot dislikes, except time, is a large impact. Meaning a boulder thrown by a catapult, dropped from a wall or a cannonball. While it could be possible to absorb most of the shock using a laminate structure and non-newton liquids, I highly doubt it can do so multiple times. There is a reason why armor vests break down when beeing shot at, and our robots armor will also wear down if it is shot multiple times (or once with a large enough thing).

Electronics can also break down due to impact, a simple example is a phone breaking when dropped with no visual damage on the outside.

A human fighter would try to face it using weaponary against armor, meaning a weapon providing a long leverage, a decent weight and impact on a point. In short a warhammer. That would at least be able to damage the, if it would be hit multiple times. Thing is you gotta walk through fast moving blades to hit the robot, so I'd go with siege weaponary. A scorpion should be quite efficient.

Using nets and ropes would allow to entangle the robot and allow the attempt to bring it down, so it can be smashed with hammers.

That's it for my little excursion into mechanical engineering, feel free to ask any questions.



Humans fear death. Most humans also instinctively fear killing other humans. During the history of warfare large part of the tactics was designed to overcome this limitation, by drilling them into formations.

And still, battles weren't won like in video games, by one side losing all soldiers fighting to the death. Losing 10%-15% of soldiers usually led to the army running away in panic.

It often happened that an army routed which had actually better chances to win. In the heat of the battle you don't see very far. You only see what happens in your immediate vicinity. If the one standing by you panics, turns, and flees, you don't know the whole situation. You only know that you are now more vulnerable because your battle line has a gap right besides you. Then another one of your comrades turns and flees. If you stay you will be cut down. So you have to flee too. Even if the battle was nearly won, you don't know it. And that small panic might spread and make your whole army rout.

Robots wouldn't have such problems.


A robotic swordsman wouldn't need anything too over-the-top to be incredibly powerful. They'd have a lot of much smaller things that would give them significant advantages.

For example, one strategy used in one-on-one sword combat is to disarm your opponent. Even when your swordbot doesn't use permanently-attached weapons, it can still have mechanical interlocks (like double-jointed fingers that wrap around the hilt in both directions and lock together at the back) that prevent the sword from being dislodged. The robot can disarm a human, but not vice versa.

Taking that thought in the other direction, your robot could fairly easily disarm a human. It would be able to block an incoming blow with its off hand, grab the opponent's sword by the blade, and twist it free from his hand.

An extremely low-tech advantage that your robot could have is to buff the thing until it has a mirror-like finish all over. Fight your battles outdoors during the day. Your human opponent will constantly be blinded by the glare, but a simple optical filter makes your robot immune to it.

Any fencer will tell you that balance and footwork is key to success. You can distribute your robot's mass in a non-human-like manner to make it better at balancing. Moving a lot of mass to its off hand could allow the robot to fight in a sideways stance like a fencer, using the off hand for counterbalance like a tail.

If your robot uses a long, thin blade like a fencing foil, it would be able to strike with considerably better precision than even the best human fencer. The weapon is generally rigid and inflexible and acts like another segment of the robot's arm. The cognitive load for a robot to move from a two-segment arm to a three-segment arm is trivial. Human brains don't do that very well, as our computational power is generally limited by our biology.

Your robot swordsman would have game-changing abilities as far as sensors go. It could see its opponents equally well at night and during the day. Infrared sensors could detect when an opponent is breathing heavy and fatigued. Zoom lenses could be used to find small imperfections in the opponents armor for targeted attacks. The amount of time it would take for your robot to detect an opponent's movement and react to it would be an order of magnitude less than for a human. This allows the robot to counter/block almost any attack. When an opponent counters/parries, the robot can react fast enough to adjust the angle of attack and evade the parry.

When fighting with larger swords designed for chopping and slashing, dynamic armor would enable your robot to avoid most damage. The individual plates on his armor would have their own actuator that can tilt them in multiple directions. The robot can continually track incoming blows and re-orient the plates to ensure that each blow glances off and does a minimal amount of damage, as if it were covered in a hundred tiny bucklers. Even with static armor, it would be able to twist and re-orient its arms and body to achieve the same effect.

The best part about small advantages like this are that they can be selectively activated by the robot. Just when the human opponent thinks they're winning, the robot laughs at him and raises the difficulty level.


A robot can have a number of advantages over a human in a sword-fight, simply by virtue of its construction.

Since the robot is specified to be humanoid, its advantages will be things that it can do better than a human, not things that a robot of a different shape could do to confuse an opponent.

Firstly, humans are soft-skinned and easily damaged. When wielding edged weapons, wearing armour is highly advisable to avoid their skin being punctured or cut. Since a robot can be made from far stronger materials than human skin and flesh, it is unlikely to be damaged by a sword blow from a mere human.

Secondly, Robots may be considerably stronger than an equivalent sized human (in terms of both mass and volume). They may also be heavier, with a mass greater than that of an equivalent human.

Thirdly, a robot does not have a human's energy supply problems. Unless it runs out of energy entirely, its actuators are most likely to be designed to supply maximal output indefinitely, until its power supply runs out at least.

Fourthly, a robot may be capable of much greater precision than humans. Our senses are all 'analog' in that we can't say with any great degree of precision where the parts of our body are or where other things are. A robot may be capable of far greater accuracy and precision

Fifthly - and most important of all - a robot can be fast. If made properly, its reactions could easily outstrip those of a normal human... and this is the most critical point. As an instructor, a robot may limit its speed in order to simulate a real opponent, but it would always be able to be just that bit faster. Once the robot's decision-action loop drops below 200-250ms, the lower limit for human hand-eye co-ordination, there will be the feeling from human opponents that they are outmatched, that whatever they do, the robot can answer, and they are hard-pressed to respond.

As a human fights this robot, it may opt to introduce artificial delays into it's decision-action loop in order to simulate an unskilled opponent. To a human, it will feel as if the robot cannot respond to the human's actions, and the human will score hits against it, though of course, being armoured, it will be pretty hard to damage. Then, as it ramps up its reaction speed, the human will have to work harder and harder to make a touch, and when it gets to around 250ms reaction time, its strength, accuracy and precision will make it a very challenging opponent, and few human swordsmen other than masters of their art could score a hit.

However, as the robot continues to ramp up its speed, reducing its reaction time yet further, its human opponents will get the feeling that no matter what they do, it seems to know almost before they do it, and is already moving to counter. As its speed increases and its reaction time reduces yet further, it will seem that the robot is playing with them. No matter what they do, the robot not only anticipates, but does so with seemingly contemptuous ease, scoring hits against them even as they try to hit it, then going back to parry their own strikes.

By the time the robot gets up to its top speed and down to it's real reaction time, on the order of 25 to 50 ms (which is currently achievable and has been demonstrated with real-world technology), it could score five or more hits while its human opponent is still trying to score their first hit.

If the robot was not concerned with teaching, and simply wanted to eliminate its human opponents, it could simply walk into a massed group of human opponents, and cripple or kill them as it chose. It would hardly matter how many humans there were, unless the robot didn't have enough stored power to cut them all down. To the robot, the humans would be almost as slow as a snail trying to hit a human... or a hundred snails all trying to hit it. It wouldn't matter how many, since only a half-dozen humans at most could be close enough to reach the robot, and part of its observation-reaction loop would be prioritising its targeting and defensive actions. It would so greatly outclass its human opponents that it could choose not to kill them, to instead give them injuries that would leave them unable to continue fighting while they were futilely trying to hit the robot.


The Swordsman is an evolved weapon of combat, for use in scenarios where boarding, infiltration and assault are necessary, or where the use of projectile weapons could compromise a target (like a spaceship or aircraft).

Delivered by cloaked breaching pod, a single ninja assassin can infiltrate a craft or base, eliminate command and override all systems-- this strategy was used most effectively in the Battle of 2770, when several UNN capital ships were subverted and scuttled right at the apex of battle.

Because the role of the robot requires moving through spaces and manipulating interfaces designed for humans, ninja assassin robots are humanoid in nature. In fact, they are most effective when designed with chameleon skin to mimic the appearance of members of a crew or base garrison.

The robots are armed with a sword -- as they are incredibly fast and strong, this is usually all they need for their task, but of course they are also equipped with projectiles, flashbangs, smoke bombs and other cool ninja assassin gear.


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