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Combat Robot Redux

Posted July 08, 2015 10:02 AM by HUSH
Pathfinder Tags: DIY entertainment robot robot combat

In engineering and in entertainment, concepts are often cyclical. For iterative engineering, prototyping, analyzing and refining are successive tasks that will repair or improve past designs. This is what leads to a new iPhone every year, for better or worse. In entertainment, there are repetitive viewing trends. Right now zombies are "hot," just as they were in the' 70s and '80s, before then existing as a niche genre until a new popularity boom in the late 2000s.

The same can be said of the latest engineering and entertainment mash-up, that being the newest incarnation of BattleBots. The show originally ran for five seasons on Comedy Central, right around the time of other mechanical DIY shows such as Scrapheap Challenge (aka Junkyard Wars) and Monster Garage. The original series drew serious competitors, such as 3/5 of the Mythbusters team, and Bill Nye served as technical expert (right when he wasn't cool, between the times he was/is).

Even though the original series (and other robot combat shows) were cancelled long ago, it wouldn't be the end of the sport. Dozens of other smaller competitions have existed for years (even an Olympics-the RoboGames) and in the 13 years off air some technology upgrades promise for a more powerful show. Most notable is the vast improvements in batteries. In recent years robots have thrown competitors straight out of the arena, so the arena-already made of steel floors and framing with polycarbonate panels-needs to be considerably stronger this time around. The organizers called it "bombproof."

(Side note: there is some debate as the whether these are just RCs or robots. I made no distinction.)

Spinner and lawnmower-style bots seem to inflict the most damage, but a simple wedge with powerful traction can be hard to stop too. Until recently, flame throwers were amongst the list of banned weapons. They're now allowed but are mostly ineffective against competitors. Other banned weapons include radio jammers, electric shock, liquids, entanglements, lasers and halcon gas, which can be used to extinguish internal combustion engines. Otherwise all other weapons and implements can be used.

Robots teams spend months or years custom manufacturing their robots. Winners ultimately receive a cash prize, but it's often not enough to pay for the build and all the repairs. It's not just engineers entering either, but they typically have the best developed designs. Though they are competitors, opposing teams are often friendly and even help repair or troubleshoot malfunctions. There is a comradery found in the mechanical mayhem they're there to unleash, and everyone wants to put on a good show.

Is the world ready for another round of robotic rumbles? Seemingly so. Despite a chilly domestic reception, Pacific Rim--a 2013 film about giant robots that fight monsters--earned over $400 million and a sequel. In a weird blend between BattleBots and Pacific Rim, two large robot manufacturers are set to pit their giant robots in an epic duel.

Japanese manufacturer Suidobashi Heavy Industry will enter the Kurata, a 12-foot-tall 9,000 lb. mecha armed with bottle rockets and BB gatling guns (pictured far left). It's opponent will be the 15-foot-tall, 12,000 lb. mecha Mark II, built by U.S.-based MegaBot (close left), which is armed with twin paintball gatling guns. The exact parameters of the fight are unknown, but it's slated for summer 2016.

I wouldn't call BattleBots enlightening entertainment, but it might be worthwhile for the engineers and technicians who don't want to spend every minute analyzing everything on the screen. Sometimes it's fun to just watch stuff break. It might even inspire a CR4er to build their own combat robot.

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#1

Re: Combat Robot Redux

07/08/2015 12:59 PM

How about FRAGBOT.

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#2

Re: Combat Robot Redux

07/08/2015 3:41 PM

The new series is worth watching from both an engineering and entertainment point of view.

Technology has moved forward and so have the weapons and engineering behind the designs. I don't remember flamethrowers being allowed in the old series but I do remember no entanglement devices.

http://9gag.com/tv/p/a9Mexw/battlebots-2015-complete-control-vs-ghost-raptor

The best thing about the new series is although it is a big budget affair the production isn't too over the top, over done American cheesy. That is a death sentence for shows where the Engineering and the Engineers ARE the program, not some idiot reality TV manager who thinks he knows what the public wants.

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#6
In reply to #2

Re: Combat Robot Redux

04/10/2017 12:06 PM

The periodically televised show of Battlebots could be made even more entertaining by applying the approach of NCAA basketball, but instead of Regional Champions in their Final Four, there could be robotic Type-Champions...

Such as, Horizontal-spinners, Vertical-Spinners/sawers, Vertical-Smashers/axers, and remaining/combo-others...

That way, the horizontal-spinner champion would face-off against either the vertical-spinner champion, or the vertical-smasher-champion, or the other-champion, and the remaining two would face-off against each other, for a more dramatic robotic-final-four...

The final four champions could then each be then awarded a half-size giant-nut-trophy for being a Type-Champion...

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#3

Re: Combat Robot Redux

07/09/2015 10:28 AM

You missed Robot combat league on SYFY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNlnJ_M1vEk

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Re: Combat Robot Redux

07/09/2015 3:20 PM

Ah yes, Robot combat league. TV's answer to "Hey why don't we make a robot boxing TV series based on the movie "Real Steel"!".

Worked surprisingly well. Who would have thought tethered hydraulic robots with twin drivers would work as a TV show concept.

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#5

Re: Combat Robot Redux

03/20/2017 1:02 PM

I'm not too sure about all this, but, isn't ''summer 2016'' already over?...

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