Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Rumble Robots Work

        Entertainment | Toys

Play Your Cards Right
Rumble Robots come with a deck of power cards.
Rumble Robots come with a deck of power cards.

The main thing that sets Rumble Robots apart from other remote control toys are the power cards. Each Rumble Robot comes with a set of power cards, and additional cards are available in separate packs.

By sliding the right sequence of cards through a slot in the robot's head, players can activate the robot's laser defense, punching mechanism, speed and power points.

This content is not compatible on this device.

Each Rumble Robot has a card scanner slot on the back of its head.

The card reader works just like a barcode scanner at a grocery store. It has a tiny light positioned right next to a tiny light sensor. Each card has a distinctive pattern of black and white lines. When you slide the card through the slot, the beam of light passes over the line pattern. The white lines reflect a lot of light back to the sensor, but the black lines absorb most of the light (see How Light Works to find out why this happens).

The Rumble Robot's barcode scanner
The Rumble Robot's barcode scanner

Just like the infrared detector photocell, the scanner sensor translates the light pattern into an electrical signal. The robot's integrated circuit reads this signal and enables the new move or boosts the robot's power level. When the robot is defeated, or the power cuts off, the integrated circuit is reset. It has to "learn" the moves all over again.

With the popularity of Rumble Robots, we're sure to see many similar fighting toys in the future. Like Rumble Robots, these toys will combine a standard remote control system with a host of interactive features. To learn more about Rumble Robots and similar machines, check out the links on the next page.