Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

A Brief History Of The Demise Of Battle Bots
Popular Science ^ | 06.19.2013 | By Kelsey D. Atherton

Posted on 01/11/2014 7:30:19 PM PST by Jet Jaguar

Blame the wedges!

Robot battling was poised to become a true sport of the future. It had all the right elements: mad science, gladiatorial combat, plucky garage inventors, and televised action. So what killed it? A brutally effective, utterly simple machine called the wedge bot.

The wedge-style bot killed robot wars because it was invincible, which in the end made it boring. Yesterday SB Nation published a fascinating full history of BattleBots, which is a great, though giant, read.

But the mechanical evil that is the wedge bot deserves special attention. Competitions originally focused on robots using arms and blades and blunt objects to bash and slash and break each other apart. Wedge Bots had one simple, cunning attack: slide a wedge under another robot, flip it onto its back, and watch it flail about like a dying cockroach. Here is the timeline of how it managed to make killer robot duels boring.

1994 An exhibition and competition of garage-built robot warriors begins in San Francisco. Wedge bots are mercifully absent.

1995 The wedge bot premiers! Compared with its blade-swinging, hammer-bashing competitors, it is a unique and clever alternative. No one knew what to make of it. It won handily, with speed and novelty making up for its admittedly dull design. Watch the death of the sport below:

February 1998 BBC creates a "Robot Wars" TV show that lasts for five years. Wedges are a constant presence.

August 2000 Televised robot competition "BattleBots" starts airing on Comedy Central. By the time the show ended in 2002, "robot Darwinism," the term coined by battling robot pioneer Pete Abrahamson, has left the field with only three major robot archetypes: 1. Lifters, which had wedged sides and could use forklift-like prongs to flip pure wedges. 2. Spinners, which were smooth, circular wedges with blades on their bottom side for disabling and breaking lifters. 3. Pure wedges, which could still flip spinners.

What should have been an exciting, diverse sport is stuck at rock paper scissors.

February 2013 Noting the design dead-end created by "BattleBots" constraints on weight, size, and power, SyFy channel show "Robot Fighting League" premiers, with an important, wedge-proof requirement: all robots must be bipedal.

Not only does "Robot Fighting League" ban wedge robots, but all of the machines are created by the same designer. If robot Darwinism made the game boring, maybe robot intelligent design can keep it intresting.


TOPICS: History; Hobbies; TV/Movies
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 01/11/2014 7:30:19 PM PST by Jet Jaguar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

How about rules and design parameters? Just think’n.


2 posted on 01/11/2014 7:41:51 PM PST by slouper
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

3 posted on 01/11/2014 7:43:10 PM PST by Redcitizen (Never bring a tank to a Chuck Norris fight.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

I used to love BattleBots. Jamie and Adam from Mythbusters had some great entries. But yeah, wedges made it boring in the end.


4 posted on 01/11/2014 7:49:52 PM PST by Hugin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

With a bipedal rule I foresee low centers of gravity and large feet.


5 posted on 01/11/2014 7:51:24 PM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek

Agree.


6 posted on 01/11/2014 7:52:23 PM PST by Jet Jaguar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar
Time to resume the games and let Google in. It would get a LOT more interesting with recent developments.


7 posted on 01/11/2014 7:53:05 PM PST by ProtectOurFreedom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

If they want to make it interesting and drive them to develop new forms they should ditch the arena format. If you put them outside on varied terrain like water, sand, mud, rock, etc it could become very interesting.

In fact I’d put multiple teams on the battlefield and let them go at it with multiple bots for each team.


8 posted on 01/11/2014 7:58:27 PM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

GREENPEACE BOTS


9 posted on 01/11/2014 7:59:44 PM PST by JoeProBono (SOME IMAGES MAY BE DISTURBING VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED;-{)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar
Robot battling was poised to become a true sport of the future. It had all the right elements: mad science, gladiatorial combat, plucky garage inventors, and televised action. So what killed it? A brutally effective, utterly simple machine called the wedge bot.

The wedge-style bot killed robot wars because it was invincible, which in the end made it boring. Yesterday SB Nation published a fascinating full history of BattleBots, which is a great, though giant, read.

But the mechanical evil that is the wedge bot deserves special attention. Competitions originally focused on robots using arms and blades and blunt objects to bash and slash and break each other apart. Wedge Bots had one simple, cunning attack: slide a wedge under another robot, flip it onto its back, and watch it flail about like a dying cockroach. Here is the timeline of how it managed to make killer robot duels boring.

I don't remember the wedge-bots being the death knell of the program, although yes they were nigh-invincible. It was the Whyachi 'bots that IMO killed the program. Barely moveable heavyweight "shufflebots" with constantly-spinning hammers that made sure any opposition left the ring in pieces:


10 posted on 01/11/2014 8:04:34 PM PST by Alex Murphy ("the defacto Leader of the FR Calvinist Protestant Brigades")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

Battle bots was alot of fun to watch for awhile.


11 posted on 01/11/2014 8:06:13 PM PST by skyman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

You get the feeling that there’s an important lesson in this, but I’ll be darned if I can put my finger on what it is.


12 posted on 01/11/2014 8:07:23 PM PST by Yardstick
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

“Robot Fighting League” is stupid

I loved “Robot Wars”


13 posted on 01/11/2014 8:11:09 PM PST by GeronL (Extra Large Cheesy Over-Stuffed Hobbit)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ProtectOurFreedom

make it an outdoor sport, allow flying robots


14 posted on 01/11/2014 8:12:00 PM PST by GeronL (Extra Large Cheesy Over-Stuffed Hobbit)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek

I totally agree with that idea


15 posted on 01/11/2014 8:12:34 PM PST by GeronL (Extra Large Cheesy Over-Stuffed Hobbit)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Yardstick
"You get the feeling that there’s an important lesson in this, but I’ll be darned if I can put my finger on what it is."

1. We need to protect the losing designs because they are endangered species.

2. We need to make sure every robot has a positive experiences and leaves with its self-esteem intact (even if its gears aren't).

;-)

16 posted on 01/11/2014 8:13:14 PM PST by MV=PY (The Magic Question: Who's paying for it?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

The wedge won on the even (flat) playing field. Now, bring back the games with un-even playing fields. Also, quad-copters in play; that would be cool..


17 posted on 01/11/2014 8:14:46 PM PST by Ghost of SVR4 (So many are so hopelessly dependent on the government that they will fight to protect it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MV=PY
1. We need to protect the losing designs because they are endangered species.
2. We need to make sure every robot has a positive experiences and leaves with its self-esteem intact (even if its gears aren't).

3. It's all fun and games until someone loses a $200 actuator.

18 posted on 01/11/2014 8:16:09 PM PST by Alex Murphy ("the defacto Leader of the FR Calvinist Protestant Brigades")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar
August 2000 Televised robot competition "BattleBots" starts airing on Comedy Central.

A Network now only known for smirking, snarky leftists.

19 posted on 01/11/2014 8:24:09 PM PST by Last Dakotan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Yardstick
Lack of imagination or technological lag:

A cube design with wheels on each face, or movable ones.

A sphere with helper wheels, unscoopable.

A killer bot inside the flipped bot.

An EMP bot.

Good grief, people, use your imagination and quit whining/
20 posted on 01/11/2014 8:27:39 PM PST by 867V309 (I love potatoes-except, of course, Lena Dunham)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: skyman

I was fat dumb and happy watching Battlebots until they inexplicably ( to me ) canceled it. I don’t think it was a technical issue. Just the usual ratings game.


21 posted on 01/11/2014 8:30:59 PM PST by dr_lew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

Go big or go home.

22 posted on 01/11/2014 8:42:40 PM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: martin_fierro

There you go.


23 posted on 01/11/2014 8:44:04 PM PST by Jet Jaguar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Redcitizen

Yes, 50 cal machine guns and rockets.


24 posted on 01/11/2014 9:07:18 PM PST by headstamp 2 (What would Scooby do?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

I remember watching a documentary about a robot battle (the first?) at MIT. It was called King of The Hill. All students had the same parts to work with. There was a hill with two opposing slopes. The winner was “Whoever got the highest up the slope. It was a hoot. They followed a few kids around as they made their robots. They had the competition. Most of the kids tried to build fast robots to get to the top first. Some built tall robots. One kid built a killer robot. The look on the other kids faces when he knocked their robots off the hill was priceless. It taught them to listen carefully and to anticipate what others might do.


25 posted on 01/11/2014 9:08:27 PM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MV=PY

#3 The robots should be allowed to join a union.


26 posted on 01/11/2014 9:09:13 PM PST by headstamp 2 (What would Scooby do?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

I so loved those shows.

They need to totally bring this back with a drone category.


27 posted on 01/11/2014 9:14:12 PM PST by VanDeKoik
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dr_lew

I enjoyed it as well.


28 posted on 01/11/2014 9:16:08 PM PST by Jet Jaguar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: headstamp 2

Exactly! Now there’s a battle bot fight I want to see.


29 posted on 01/11/2014 9:54:51 PM PST by Redcitizen (Never bring a tank to a Chuck Norris fight.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: Redcitizen

LOVED LOVED LOVED all those shows !

Long live Vlad the impaler !


30 posted on 01/11/2014 9:59:10 PM PST by bicyclerepair (TERM LIMITS TERM LIMITS TERM LIMITS)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: GeronL

make it an outdoor sport, allow flying robots

Great idea! Let ‘em carry Hellfire’s too!!


31 posted on 01/11/2014 10:30:52 PM PST by Afterguard (Liberals will let you do anything you want, as long as it's mandatory.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

“Razer” huh?
That’s nothing!
Here’s the REAL champion:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25zh2Z0Z3JA

Nobody beats MiniFridge!


32 posted on 01/11/2014 11:13:10 PM PST by mkleesma (`Call to me, and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.')
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jet Jaguar

A lot of the success of the wedge is due to the (at the time) impracticalness of fast walker bots. You can’t tip a 6-leg bot if all you can do is lift one foot. Now that walkers are more feasible, it might be possible to bring back Battlebots. As others mention, varying the arena terrain would also negate a lot of the wedge’s effectiveness. Processing power is also a lot more substantial now, which would make self-righting bots more possible. A bot with a suspension system and the positioning sensors from a smartphone might be able to stay balanced without the need for a really complex controller.


33 posted on 01/12/2014 12:26:14 AM PST by Little Pig (Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: cripplecreek

Precisely, hard flat arenas produced a winning design. Change that surface and that design is no longer a winner.


34 posted on 01/12/2014 3:36:38 AM PST by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Afterguard

That would be awesome


35 posted on 01/12/2014 10:39:55 AM PST by GeronL (Extra Large Cheesy Over-Stuffed Hobbit)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: bicyclerepair

Vlad had to be one of the top three most effective and famous bots on that show. Good choice!


36 posted on 01/12/2014 12:18:00 PM PST by Redcitizen (Never bring a tank to a Chuck Norris fight.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: 867V309

Yup, the sphere was my preferred design. Something that would roll without external protrusions (very heavy controlled counterweight inside), with powered spikes to snap out & in for damage. Wedge would do nothing, while the weight and spikes tear it up.


37 posted on 01/12/2014 1:40:07 PM PST by ctdonath2 (Making good people helpless doesn't make bad people harmless.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson