MaU Hebocon 2018

The robotics competition for the technically ungifted

Malmo University - April 20th, 2018

18.00 to 20.30 / competition starts at 19.00

Project kindly sponsored by

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What is Hebocon?

(words by Daiju Ishikawa, Hebocon Master)

Hebocon is a robot sumo-wrestling competition for those who are not technically gifted. It is a competition where crappy robots that can just barely move gather and somehow manage to engage in odd, awkward battles. To my knowledge, this is the only robot contest in the world where people with no technical capabilities to make robots are presented prizes.

In July 19, 2014, the first Hebocon competition was organized and held by Hebocon Master Daiju Ishikawa in Tokyo, Japan. After a video about the competition was included in the Jury Selections of the Japan Media Arts Festival, held by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs, Hebocon has made media appearances in many countries, and now, it looks like Hebocon is about to go international.

Heboi? What does it mean?

The word Hebocon derives from the Japanese word Heboi, it is written like:

The Japanese adjective Heboi is used to describe something that is technically poor, or low in quality. The object of Hebocon is to enjoy Heboiness. There are two aspects of Heboiness in Hebocon.

1: Heboi robots

Heboi robots do not even move properly, and may break at the slightest impact. It will even fail to move forward smoothly. Such robots are worthless from an engineering standpoint, but they possess an appeal that impressive robots just do not have.

For example, say there is a baby who has just turned one, toddling about. You may find the sight of the baby trying to walk adorable. The same thing can be said about Heboi robots; there is something adorable about robots that don’t even have their parts functioning properly trying to somehow engage in battle.

In addition, Heboi robots are prone to suffer from “technical difficulties.” Although a baby would not lose a leg when they fail to walk properly, a Heboi robot would. One Heboi robot’s body was thrown out of the ring as the robot’s tires accelerated too much; another Heboi robot’s motor would just be dead all the sudden. Hebocon is ridden with such accidents, and it is such incidents that make Hebocon all the more exciting.

2: Heboi creators

Why are some robots so Heboi? That is because their creators have Heboi technical abilities.

A creator with low technical capabilities does not factor in their own incompetence. They are likely to think of an amazing robot with all sorts of cool features before they actually go about trying to build it. In time, they will realize that they do not have the ability to realize the super robot in their mind, and so they make the compromise to build a simple robot instead. However, they will not be able to build even the simple robot they thought of, and so they will make yet another compromise, and end up building what we talked about earlier: a Heboi robot.

Other types of Heboi creators will lose interest in the middle of making their robot, and get sloppy with their work; not even bother to test out if a feature of the robot actually functions; and in some cases, give up participating in the competition all together. But it’s all good: that is what makes Hebocon what it is.

A good look at a participating robot reveals the human weakness of its creator. This is another factor that makes Hebocon interesting. Observing the robots in Hebocon is like reading confessional literature. That’s why I always say “Hebocon is not engineering; it is literature.”

Is it possible to make a robot with no technical skill?

Yes, of course it is. Go into a toy store and buy one of those moving toy dogs, rip off its exterior, and stick some cardboard on there, and you’d be looking at your original robot. Get some pieces of wood, sharpen them, and give your robot some horns: your robot’s attacking ability has just sky-rocketed. You might even get more creative and install a motorized weapon onto your robot. Didn’t quite work out? That’s Okay! That is what we call Heboi. Grab that faulty robot of yours, and participate in a Hebocon competition!

In Japan, a company called TAMIYA sells an easy-to-assemble kit of motorized toys. Perhaps similar products are for sale in your country. Such products can easily be modified, so they are perfect material for building a robot. Although you may end up worsening how the toy moves by attempting to modify it, that’s okay! That is what we call Heboi. Enjoy the fact that it doesn’t move right!

Rules and More

Learn More

You should probably check Hebocon's official site.

Hebocon's site


There are some limitations to your robot, please read the official rules

Official rules

Join Malmo's Competition

Subscribe your team by simply filling a form.



Event arranged by the Institute of Interactive Objects.

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Come and make your robot at Malmo University

If you feel like making your robot in the company of others, Malmo University students from the Interaction Design programme have decided to have an open evening on April 18th where they will build and help building robots to those coming by.
Get more information about this event by visiting this page