Mano y mano, hand to hand combat. The way that we have fought for centuries. But then, in a staggering twist of fate, BBC decided to up the game. Roboto y roboto. The Robot Wars. Possibly the technological highlight of late 90’s, the original series ran for three years before petering out in early 2001. But it’s back and better than ever.
Robot Wars has some fairly strict rules of entry, mainly that you have to know exactly what you’re doing. All the teams involved had some amazing levels of knowledge between them. Yes, one robot did have a blade that spun at 2500RPM – but that was due the technological expertise of the team behind it. And another robot was specially equipped with what amounted to bullet-proof glass – because the creator has been fighting robots for a long time and knows what they are capable of. That’s two robots out of the eight that graced the first show and forty of the season.
Traditionally, the first two rounds are two bouts of four-way fights with the victims randomly selected. Each individual robot can cost up to £25,000. At those numbers, you’re looking at the cost of a small house in each round. The first bracket was comprised of Kill-E-Crank-E, Nuts, returning champion Razer and Terrorhurtz.
Despite a few close calls, the first to fall was Kill-E-Crank-E after Razer went to drop it in the pit and KECE was able to move just enough to drag them both in. Nuts and Terrorhurtz won by default.
I actually have some inside information (I’ve always wanted to say that) on Team Nuts. Each team is granted £1000 to buy supplies for their robots. Team Nuts – as you can probably tell from the googly eyes – only used the money they were given. Oh, and their concept design wasn’t a tiny model or whipped up on the computer – it was a Pringles can.
Following the destruction of the each round, the teams are given only two hours to fix any problems with their machines.
Taking up the second bracket came Behemoth, Bonk, Carbide and The General. Carbide was particularly fearsome out of the lot. Its main weapon is a rotating blade at the front of the machine which spins at 2500RPM and reaches speeds of over 200MPH.
Behemoth was the other strong contender with a solid body and a flipping mechanism that would also right the machine if it was flipped. With several traps built into the arena and flipping a favorite, this robot is one of the smartest designs I’ve seen in either iteration of the show. Despite ultimately losing, Bonk had similar armour to what is used on tanks – that should give you some idea of what these machines are capable of.
Head To Head
If I’m brutally honest, Nuts doesn’t really have much of a standing amongst the finalists. Behemoth is a sound tactical tank and Terrorhurtz and Carbide pack some serious punch. Nuts is the scampy little thing that runs around screaming before flipping into the walls.
During the adjustments and fixes between rounds, you can really see the sportsmanship. Carbide suffered some minor damage to the motor during its last fight and Team Terrorhurtz – their rivals in the next round – actually drop by to see how they can help and offer some advice. The match between the two is terrifying – Carbide has the deadly spinning saw but Terrorhurtz is actually bulletproof. During the match, Terrorhurtz doesn’t even use axe before pushing Carbide into the pit.
When Nuts faced off against Behemoth, things didn’t really go very normally. Nuts seems incapable of actually getting flipped effectively but lacks proper offensive weaponry. The round eventually drew to a close with neither side defeated. The judges then ruled based on control, damage and aggression in favour of Behemoth.
The Final Result
I would love to continue writing about this triumphant comeback for the franchise but this article is long enough already. So here’s how the last two fights went down.
Carbide V Nuts
Fighting for third, this one was quite funny. Carbide took an early lead and destroyed the protective ring around Nuts. The little machine died quickly after that. Amazingly, about midway through the match, part of Nuts was somehow flung into the screen over one of the booths.
Terrorhurtz V Behemoth
This was quite an easy win. Terrorhurtz was designed to roll square on it’s back and then use the axe to push itself back to its wheels. Well, it almost worked. Behemoth was able to roll it successfully but the axe failed to work and the machine was stuck on it’s back. Because it was no longer able to move, the judges were forced to label it a KO.
Did It Work?
Things were a lot different back when the first show was on television. Robot Wars has been almost completely redesigned and the new format actually works well. But something that really hurt me was learning why so many problems kept happening with the participants – too many transmitters. The reason the weapons kept failing was the signals were blocked by the sheer amount of transmissions in the warehouse.
This is why Team Carbide thought they were suffering a connection problem and Terrorhurtz was unable to properly use their axe a lot of the time. At one point, Team Nuts tried to get their creation to spin in circles to use their chain weapon – a decoy bot spun instead. When Carbide and Behemoth faced off for the last time, Behemoth was only able to spin in small circles as Carbide forced them into the pit. A lot of the fights would have gone a lot differently if they had had proper control over their machines.
Despite the setbacks, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. The judges were fair and the machines amazing. Even after Nuts suffered another defeat, Dr Noel Sharkey pointed out that it was created by a bunch of students who were completely new at the entire affair and operated with a tiny budget. All in all, Robot Wars is off to a good start and looks ready to take the world by storm once again.