Tested Meets the New BattleBots!

BattleBots is coming back, and we couldn’t be more excited! We’ve been granted exclusive access to the BattleBots pit, where teams from all around the world have brought their new robots to be tested in the combat arena. In the first of a three-part series, we meet with eight of the teams to learn about their robots’ fighting potential and how new technology has changed how BattleBots are built.

Shot and edited by Joey Fameli

Comments (23)

23 thoughts on “Tested Meets the New BattleBots!

  1. That looks absolutely amazing and I am so bummed out! I had purchased tickets for Saturday’s taping session and had even booked my airline flight from Seattle to San Francisco but had to cancel my trip when the logistics of getting to the venue started falling apart. I am still kicking myself for not trying harder. Looking forward to the rest of Tested’s coverage and, of course, the premiere next weekend on TV.

  2. Thanks for filming this up-close look at the new Battlebots, Norm & Joey!

    I can’t wait to watch the new season of robot mayhem on ABC. 👍

  3. Norm, your presentation style has really gotten top notch! Relaxed and talking freely like the bit at the end does draw the audience in because the excitement just isn’t fake.

    Great segment.

  4. Flamethrowers? Multiple robots from a team in the ring at the same time? It sounds like the rules have changed from previous Battlebots & Robotwars competitions. I haven’t found the latest version of the rules yet, but I wonder if shooting projectiles/liquids or dropping traps would also be allowed.

  5. Did they kill off the simple designs that are essentially super low wedges that flipped bots and the spinning chassis bots? They seemed to dominate the sport iirc. Also I like that they allowed the witch doctor team to use two smaller bots, though I dont feel like they will get very far with their designs, curious if their opponent has to kill the main bot, both bots, or either bot.

    Hope we get to see the other teams that are competing in upcoming videos before the start of the show.

  6. Muffley Blendo was a great initially, but trumped quickly by the evolving design of the opponents, if I recall correctly. It would need a major redesign to be competitive today.

  7. I’m almost ashamed to admit how excited I am about this. I literally started jumping up and down in my living room when I saw a commercial for this last week. Strangely my wife didn’t even flinch at the sight of a grown man hopping up and down and giggling… I’m starting to think she may be growing overly accustomed to my weirdness.

    But I remember watching robot wars as a kid and dreaming of competing in it some day. I had some pretty awesome ideas for a battle robot but I doubt I will ever realize the dream of building one. Still I am ecstatic that fighting robots are finally entering the mainstream media again. This is the kind of thing that really sparks imaginations and creativity. I genuinely feel that we need the next generations of curious minds exposed more to things like this and less American Idol and other “Reality TV.”

    But now that we got a chance to see some of the robots that will be competing I am even more excited. Some of the designs are very ingenious I can’t wait to actually see them going at it.

  8. I remember being glued to the TV as a kid watching Battlebots and Robots Wars, even so far as to build my own mini Battlebots out of Lego and make them fight!

    Now I’m twitching with anticipation for the premiere next weekend and will watch every moment of the show and behind the scenes info I can get my hands on. Can’t wait to see what Tested has in store since they have the exclusive access in the pits!

  9. I’m curious why I’ve only seen the robots have either minimal internal structure or just CNC’d blocks of metal. Ribs and spars would greatly increase the strength of the skin while giving space in the internal structure to run electronics, wires, and hydraulic systems.

  10. If I recall correctly, Jamie said the spinning chassis bots (I assume you mean bots such as Blendo) starting having trouble because they were no longer allowed to spin up before the round began. Since it took a lot of time to get up to speed, they ended up being stationary targets while gathering speed (Jamie used to spin Blendo up to speed using a drill that went though a hole in the top). As competition caught on, they designed wedge/flippers and bots with impact-absorbing armor that stopped their momentum without taking too much damage and forced them to spin back up. Also, IIRC when Blendo returned in Battlebots, the arena had anti-spinner measures like immovable objects.

    Video of a much beefier Jamie firing up Blendo:

    Not sure why there aren’t just a ton of flippers, though. As you say, my memory is that every winning bot was a wedge with an arm or piston firing upward. Maybe as spinning weapons got more powerful they became vulnerable to devastating attacks from the back?

  11. Usually it’s about the amount of time it takes to design, the manufacturing capabilities you have access to, and cost. Designing and making square solid blocks is a lot easier than hogging out a billet to make a fancy ribbed structure or joining together pieces. Additionally, anything that is big and costly probably means you can’t replace it if you break it.

    This is a battle bot I worked on slightly while in college: it wont let me post the picture http://www.lazytd.com/rc/rcg/bane.jpg

    Welded together ribs with a spinning weapon (not installed in the picture). It was super strong, but we couldn’t do much to fix it if it took any real damage. After testing and finding out the motors weren’t even close to being powerful enough we also couldn’t go back and add more room. The closer you can keep your design, especially first generation builds, to a lego set the better.

    We didn’t pay for the machining by the way. That bot started as a senior design project and had the machining/welding donated (as far as I ever heard). It would have been way to expensive to self fund something like that.

  12. Not to sound like I’m putting you down here, that bot is amazing looking, but that sounds like a lack of experience with designing structures to be repaired.

    Aircraft and large watercraft are designed to have easily repairable structures with ribs and spars being riveted on for easy remove and replace repairs. Welding creates a stronger bond, but that isn’t necessarily the best option. A riveted structure has multiple fail points along it where several sections can fail while others will still hold. After the battle it’s also easy to replace.

    In the Air Force we would have templates for cutting out ribs from sheet metal and forms for bending it into shape. This way it might take a few minutes to create a small rib, but we would have many already pre-made because the structure of the same aircraft type over a fleet is modular such that we could just as often remove a part from a Hangar Queen to put on the aircraft we were repairing. It’s also an incredibly robust system and survives impacts of several tons of weight during a hard landing with only minor damage (like popped rivets and some mostly cosmetic warping of the external structure)

    It’s interesting that you mention keeping it like a lego kit as much as possible, because the modern aircraft design is more like an Erector set than anything else.

    The idea isn’t that you’d mill out ribs and spars from a block, it’s that you’d make many many forms out of sheet metal and build it into the structure. You can add holes into ribs to reduce weight or run objects through. You can keep multiple copies of the entire structure on hand, as each individual part is easily replaceable and much cheaper than milled alternatives.

  13. It really doesn’t want me to respond… so bullet point version:

    -You’re right we lacked experience at working with sheet metal. We didn’t design it, just took it over when battlebots came back to life for a trade conference out of the blue. It suffered a fire prior to this, so it wasn’t really in working order either. There are a lot of ways I’d like to redesign it with 10 years of hindsight.

    -The problem is added complexity with ribbed structures. More parts, and thin members mean you need to know where your force is going. If you take a force in a way you weren’t expecting it can buckle/crush.

    -We probably would have been alright but https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV5Io6ZKT2Y spinners like to tear sheet metal so we/I were a little worried.

    -I was actually going to say Erector set first, but this website seems to favor lego. This robot was in no way an erector set.

    -The pillow blocks for the bearings are likely either machined or COT’s, so it’s an easy jump to make that into the primary structure if machined. There is no right way though, and people have tried some really awesome structures. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razer_(robot)

    -Website for battle bot parts: http://www.robotmarketplace.com/store.html

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