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Robot Wars Coming Stateside 229

aaronhaley writes "Reuters is reporting that Vicom will be bringing Robot wars stateside to air on several of their networks. Let's hope it's closer to the real thing that BattleBots is." And lets hope they keep the sportscaster crap to a minimum, and give us more mechanical bits.
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Robot Wars Coming Stateside

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  • by Lish ( 95509 )
    Is this the Robotica they've been advertising on TLC? Looks sweet...


  • by tcc ( 140386 )
    ne idea if it's gonna air in canada?

  • It is from TLC and if it's half as cool as the episode of Junkyard wars where they built the dragsters I'll be a happy boy.
  • Battlebots.....oh, sweet battlebots. So cool. But the announcers! They even have Bill Nye there now! I wanns see kill saws and action, not talking!
  • Please. I won't watch BattleBots just because they treat it more like football. It could really use a better focus on the technology.
  • Check your local listings!
  • by Jakob Sorrel ( 321598 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2001 @08:53PM (#316597)
    I don't deny the appeal of watching robots fight each other, but why hasn't the genre progressed beyond that?

    There are many constructive tasks that robots could compete at, but instead, producers turn out endless streams of robot battle shows. Maybe the audience demand isn't there, but I haven't even seen a more constructive show tried.

    Perhaps I'm expecting too much from television, but the potential in robotics is amazing and it's a shame that isn't demonstrated more in these shows.
  • Would those end up like the battles that Robotman [] had last month?

    Don't click here []

  • by seanw ( 45548 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2001 @08:55PM (#316599)

    > The company intends to adapt the existing U.K. series for American audiences and will also produce a U.S. version.

    does this mean I'm going to have to listen to Joe Nameth argue with Howie Long (or whatever the hell their names are) and make comments like "now what they really need to do to win the game is score some points"? maybe I'll pass.

  • Happy boy, indeed... Can't we get an full-length feature on the Asmimi robot that's going to walk around our house and give us a pat on the back when it's time to go to work?
  • Yes, the announcers/sportscasters on Battlebots are annoying. But we have to be reminded sometimes: the whole world isn't the slashdot crowd. Comedy Central/Battlebots/Everyone else involved has to try to appeal to a larger audience, including those people who watch sports with human athletes. I love the techie bits too, but I think Battlebots has a good mix - It could be all talk. At least Battlebots occasionally goes "behind the scenes" to highlight some of the robots. If everyone in the key demographics were /. readers and MIT grads, it wouldn't be an issue. But the real world has people who wanna hear silly anouncers and see things beat eachother, regardless of what the tech specifics.

    The Good Reverend
    I'm different, just like everybody else. []
  • by alewando ( 854 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2001 @08:57PM (#316602)
    The 20th century was a century of many things, not least of which was the advancement of robotics. Once battery power became truly feasible on a portable basis, and once machining was perfected on a small enough scale, robots emerged as a dominant mechanism of accomplishing what people either didn't want to do or were not well suited to doing.

    There is lots of criticism based on how robotics is demeaning to working class humans, pushing them out of dull but well-paying factory jobs. But far too long overlooked is the plight of the robots themselves.

    Most robots don't live the cushy lifestyles their celebrity brethren in Hollywood live. (Bender's cocaine and lubejob habits are well documented, for example.) Most are consigned to living in substandard conditions that we wouldn't inflict on even animals. They give of their sweat and toil until their parts wear out, upon which they are tossed onto the trash heap like soiled tissue or crunchy socks. Robots deserve better.

    But at least we can justify such casualties as "necessary" for the advancement of the arts of production and development. How can we possibly justify the glorious outlays of money and robot chattel for mere gladiatorial combat? If you cut robots, do they not grease?

    Our culture is descending into a tailspin of debauchery and gluttony where we laugh as sentient robots careen across our screens and disembowel themselves for our amusement. The mighty empire of Rome once stood where we stand, and their defeat at the hands of the Germanic barbarians is well documented. If we do not turn from this dark path, then we might too look down the barrel of a Swiss rifle and say, "Pass the popcorn, you're blocking my view of the set."
  • And lets hope they keep the sportscaster crap to a minimum, and give us more mechanical bits

    Those sportscaster guys are half the fun of the show. Have you never watched Sportscenter on ESPN? The announcers on Battlebots are a great parody of the Sportscenter guys -- that whole thing is obviously toung-in-cheek and it's funny!

  • by Octal ( 310 )
    Didn't PBS show these earlier? Also, there *was* a US robot wars, which is what the UK show is based on. The US robot wars was discontinued due to legal wranglings.
  • but would you really want a sports caster guy to try to go into the tech side of things? Id rather sit back and laugh at the commentators, when they try to explain whats going on...
  • by Kasreyn ( 233624 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2001 @09:01PM (#316606) Homepage

    Sponsored by: Killum Weapon Systems! I the only one who remembers this old Maxis gem? =)

  • The show will air on Viacom's Nickelodeon, MTV and TNN networks.

    Oh man. Does this mean we will have a Kids Battle Bots, a generation X battlebots, and a "Super football like coverage" Bottlebots?

  • Actually if this is the Robitica that TLC is showing the host/announcer is Ahmet Zappa. It looks pretty cool. Hopefully they do not resort to the fake sound effects Battlebots uses.
  • I take it a lot of people here haven't seen it yet? It is brutal!

    Yes, the losers go home in several storage crates, after the flames have been put out that is. Four large "house robots" see to it that any wussy behaviour, hesitation, or 'bot failure is rewarded by, say, being impaled on a robot-wielded drill, grilled over a flame pit, hoisted overhead for all to see and finally dumped into The Pit Of Oblivion in a cloud of smoke.

    The taking of prisoners is not permitted.

    Vik :v)

  • Actually the TNN version would be best. You have to remember this: TNN is The Nashville Network. Whenever they're not broadcasting square dancing competitons (which is actually often), it's something mechanical. NASCAR is on quite a lot and I wouldn't doubt that TNN has the record for most hours of Dukes of Hazard played. Ever.

  • I've never understood the draw with these shows. When the robots shoot missles from their fingers and lasers from their eyes, while simultaneously transforming into a tank, I'll watch.
  • Robot Wars [] (entering its fifth season) has been rebroadcasted in the United States for many years on scattered PBS stations (including WCNY []). Hosted by Craig Charles [] (best known as Red Dwarf []'s intergalactic space traveller Lister), the twenty-five minute program (no commercial interruption) is just plain, ungimmicky fun. The format is fairly simple; a series of elimination bouts, mostly involved with running some kind of guantlet. Have no fear, each show culmnates with a no-holds-barred bashing match between the survivors and the house robots. No macho BS, no WWF announcing... Robot Wars is just good British entertainment.
  • Maybe we're a little slow here in Aus, but the only robot wars we got to ever see were remotely controlled by people.

    Robot wars won't really appeal to me until the humans are taken out of the loop. A neural net willing to kill tied to a metal THAT'S entertainment!

    Heh, either that, or watching the sportscasters go nuts trying to work out what the robot is thinking...

  • by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2001 @09:13PM (#316614) Homepage
    Am I the only one that is a little sick of the remote controlled battle bots, admit it, it would be interesting to see a couple fully autonomous bots going at it, completely independent of any external control. Heck 99% of the fun would be trying to build one of these.
  • c'mon, then he wouldn't get post #3. bastard.

  • Not so! Check this [] out. Most robot competition is non-violent. Though it is fun to see parts fly.
  • There are a number of other robot competitions, but they're a lot less commercial than BattleBots and Robot Wars, so they don't get the media attention. I don't consider BB and RW to be actual robots anyway, because they're radio controlled rather than autonomous. There's a list of many of the other competitions here [].
  • There were a couple of Robot Wars specials which were shown over Christmas 2000 in the UK, the Annihalators. Six robots went into the ring, one was eliminated each round, and the last one still moving after five rounds won.

    Absolutely fantastic format - much better than anything I've seen on Battlebots since I arrived in the US. Those of you who haven't seen it are in for a real treat.

    And I've finally got my multi-system VCR so I can watch the Robot Wars tapes from the end of the last series! Hurray!

  • I should add that the reason for this is that intelligent combat is a very non-trivial AI task. BattleBots isn't really robot competition. Just fancy remote control.
  • Stick with it,, if they show season 1 first you might not be impressed. Compared to Battlebots it is tame.

    Just wait will you get the newer series, the robots have got very very good.

  • What if had it's own TV network?

    We could have tech-oriented shows like this rather than entertainment (or edutainment) versions with retarded sportscasters.

    Or more realistically, maybe slashdot could have a 2 hour per week slot on an existing network that could be subdivided for whatever shows it wants. Perhaps a mod system could be put in place to decide what airs.

  • Why? Producers know people like to watch fights, as demonstrated by action movies and the WWF.

    The good thing about robot fights is that no one gets hurt- it can satisfy the desire for violence without making us imagine performing acts of violence on other living things. Instead, it makes us want to build fighting robots to fight other robots.

    I think that if robot fighting catches on enough, it will begin to displace human fighting in entertainment, and once there are lots of robot fighting shows, we will start to see other shows with robots doing different things, as a reaction by the producers to a saturated market.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    you might want to take a look at MIT's 6.270 autonomous robot design competition. students get a bunch of legos, a microcontroller and 3 1/2 weeks to build bots for head-to-head competition. sometimes the competitions are lame, but there have been years when the robots smash each other to bits.
  • I have seen a few episodes of robot wars on public TV here -- KTEH (or was it KQED, I forget), in the Bay Area.

    It's a fun show, better than battlebots in at least these ways:

    • FIRE! FIRE! There's a fire pit, there are flamethrowers. It sure beats wimpy little raise-up saws and a big hammer.
    • House robots. The house robots were consturucted by professionals, and they look cool, and are quote good at making the contenstant's lives miserable if the fight gets boring.
    • No wedges. At least, I didn't see any. Yes, it seems that the wedge shape is the path evolution is directing "robots" down in battlebots, based on the particular set of rules chosen for the game. But they're _boring_.
    • No cheezy pro-wrestling motif. Nuff said.

  • What technology? 'tis just fancy remote control. I think the truth is that we are afraid to make real killer robots!
  • by The Fox ( 414349 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2001 @09:24PM (#316626) Homepage
    But think about this: Where would the great Australasian, Oscar winning actor, Russell "Tom Hanks tried to kidnap me" Crowe, without the great, Oscar winning movie, (drum roll please!), Gladiator!

    Imagine this: Time - 4001 AD, Place - 2000+something Academy Awards. Sentient robots have been dominating the movie industry for centuries.

    The great robot actor Ru5537 Cr0w3 is nominated for a movie about the evil Human society pitting poor innocent robots against each other in a battle to the death, for the viewers pleasure. He is up against T0m 4ank5 who starred in a pitiful movie about being stuck on a deserted asteroid with only a Imac called Wilson for company.
    The announcement comes through. "And the winner of Best Actor is... Ru5537 Cr0w3!". His career flourishes, and the movie industry is all the better for his excellent acting skills.

    This RoboWars will further art for robots for millenia, by providing material for the robo-movie industry. By sacrificing some primitive robots now, we will improve the lifestyle of robots in the future, by sparing them from having to watch the adventures of an Imac called Wilson.

    Viva la RoboWars!

    I have had my say.
  • The #1 problem with Robot Wars- only the house robots get to have cool weapons!

    The competitors themselves are very much restricted in weapons design, resulting in very wimpy 'bots that seldom do any real damage.

    We need the challenges of Robot Wars with the design rules of Battlebots.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I got too see 2 promo shows and it's not what most people hope it is. More like an "extreme" sport than anything. With lots of flashing lights, courses that look like a 12 year old designed them and a announcer that can go from 0 to annoying in about a second flat. The shows target audence is that same as the WWF or the X-games. Sadly a more toned down version of the show was made but it did not test well. Pitty.
  • Indeed -- although I find the 'remote control' version amusing enough to watch for a few minutes, it's not really what I had in mind when I first tuned in. I would be much more willing to watch something that is programmed once and then unleashed (perhaps with a remote shutdown in case it went in the wrong direction!). That would make the challenge more intriguing, rather than simply building mechanical devices that can take and give a beating.
  • by Lish ( 95509 )
    Actually I did. I don't know which networks Viacom owns, and the host is the guy who used to host that MTV quiz show (what was that called?), so the connection made sense to me. It was a serious question.


  • (pick any 3 :-P)
  • I suspect that it's not universally available - certainly KTEH in San Jose runs it .... but they also run Dr Who, Red Dwarf, .... etc things that are also not covered on the bulk of the PBS network ... and I suspect that now someone's presumeably paying big bucks for the series your local PBS station may not be able to afford to buy it
  • by mkbz ( 317881 ) <> on Tuesday April 03, 2001 @09:33PM (#316633) Homepage
    i greatly prefer battlebots to robotwars for a myriad of reasons.

    first being, watching a robot go thru an obstacle course is very, very boring.

    second, the 'house robots' on robotwars have an unreasonable advantage, and don't present the same degree of opposition to all contestants. (i.e. it seems that some people get a much harder wallop than others.) and they do actual serious destruction to competitors robots, which stifles innovation (why would i want to invest a great deal of money/time into a robot if their much-too-favored 'house robot' snips and blowtorches and spikes the hell out of it?)

    i think the head to head competition as seen in battlebots is the best combination of testing the builders' mechanical prowess AND driving abilities, with just enough arena obstacle to keep them on their toes. it's challenging a driver (or team) to be on both offense and defense simultaneously, while needing to be keenly aware of their environment (to avoid the arena hazards).

    the robotwars 'courses' leave hardly enough room to maneuver, and by the time one gets themselves pointed in the right direction, there's already one or several hulking 'house robots' there waiting to take your creation to bits.

    that's just my $0.02. oh, and the announcer on robotwars is so annoying i sometimes consider avoiding the program because of him alone. (too bad TLC seems to have found someone even MORE annoying for robotica :\ ).
  • Well, i'd certainly watch a lot of SlashTV.. but realistically i think it'd probably be at least 50% anime.
  • They already have that in the UK. It's called Techno Games [].

  • Actually a similar argument was used to justify a kuro5hin poll over who would take over after the US was crushed. Or something similar.

    ICQ 77863057
  • Robot Warz (the british version anyways) isn't exactly what I'd be looking forward to. Sure the host was Lister from Red Dwarf, but obstical courses? Come on!

    Let's just admit what we really want: MECHS! (oops, please don't sue, Wizards of the Coast, since that's a copyrighted term and all)

    We want MECHS. We want Mechs to do battle, not to do a robot version of American Gladiators (which is exactly what Robot Wars is!)

    I'm looking forward to Battlebots 2020, personally. Just imagine what that will be like!
  • Anything else you could have robots do would be nowhere near as cool as having them fight. Need proof?

    Bob the Angry Flower - The Inner Light []
    Check it out.

  • There are many constructive tasks that robots could compete at

    So, TV producers should go into a Toyota plant and see how many welds a robot could make in a day? If you wanted competition, its productivity could be measured against other robots from GM and Ford plants.

    Perhaps I'm expecting too much from television

    Yup. Sure are.

    the potential in robotics is amazing and it's a shame that isn't demonstrated more in these shows.

    Battlebots doesn't have any robots on the show. They're all remote-control cars. Saying robotics has something to do with it is a misnomer.

  • Hey, what about 'who's line is it anyway'? That didn' well you have a point
  • I don't deny the appeal of watching robots fight each other, but why hasn't the genre progressed beyond that?

    Because it's not legal to film PEOPLE killing each other!

    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • i greatly prefer battlebots to robotwars for a myriad of reasons.

    first being, watching a robot go thru an obstacle course is very, very boring.
    Well, I disagree, but the producers of Robot Wars apparently agreed with you. In the first episode of "Robot Wars UK" (the new season) which KLRU showed, was 7 one-on-one duels (with the house robots, of course). I tend to agree with you about the house robots not going after both contestants in the same fashion (following one contestant out of the PPZ, while the other goes in and out of it without being attacked), but I enjoy the house robots themselves, expecially when one of the contestants does get the upper hand.

    the announcer on robotwars is so annoying
    Now what's your problem with Lister? ;)
  • Here in New Zealand we have the pleasure of seeing both BattleBots from the US and RobotWars from the UK.

    There is no question which is the better.

    RobotWars has far cooler, deadler robots, the 4 house robots in particular are not to be messed with. I'm talking chain saws, flame throwers, "jaws of life" (should that be jaws of death I wonder), real nasty stuff. Add to that the better hazards like a pit and a flame grill and you really do get more action.

    They actually go through the pits and look at the robots.

    The show lasts an hour, with twice as many bouts. No stupid "sports casting".

    And best of all, it's not dumbed down for the American audience.

    We also see Scrapheap Challenge, and don't have to endure the stupid rebadging to "Junkyard Wars".

    James Sleeman
  • Because it's not legal to film PEOPLE killing each other!
    Hey, you gave me an idea! Killer Robots vs. people. The robots, as long as they were real robots rather than tele-operated mechanisms, would provide a perfect legal loophole against murder charges. If no one controlled them, who could be charged with murder? Now this would attract some real sickos that wanted to watch robots "CRUSH, KILL, DESTROY" and otherwise mangle people. I know if it ever gets on TV, I will be glad to have my TiVo!
  • There are many constructive tasks that robots could compete at, but instead, producers turn out endless streams of robot battle shows.

    Yes, there are many tasks worthy of competition... but fighting is the best. I'd rather watch robots bursting into flames than robots cooperating to put a ball in a goal, or irrigate crops. Ack.
  • by StenD ( 34260 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2001 @10:49PM (#316654)
    Battlebots doesn't have any robots on the show. They're all remote-control cars. Saying robotics has something to do with it is a misnomer.
    Perhaps not to a purist, but the robotics is the study of robots, and one of the dictionary definitions of a robot is a machine or device that operates automatically or by remote control [].
  • I just saw on TechTV, Robot Sumo Wrestling. These are actual robots, constructed from the ground up to push the opponent out of a ring.

    The sample robot I saw is the current American champion, it runs on assembler code, which is placed on the machine via an RJ-45 port (I'm not sure if it's ethernet or an RS-232 adapter).

    The robots are so powerful, a full-sized man could not push the American champion out of the ring (this was Martin Sargent, a bit skinny, but still a full-sized man). This is achieved (at least in this particular robot) through the use of a vacuum pump, which sucks the robot to smooth flooring. When it needs to move, it rolls along on rubber treads.

    I watched Battlebots once, but couldn't stand it. Part of it was the general pointlessness, and part of it was the fact that I couldn't stop thinking of WCW/WWF wrestling.

    What we really need is a telecast of the Robot Sumo Wrestling.

    A new year calls for a new signature.

  • The problem with ANY of these shows is what they attempt. Robotics is cutting edge, which means if you want something to work REALLY well, you have to make it top-of-the-line. Making top of the line stuff takes time, research, and lots of knowledge, parts and money.

    This is something you can't get EVERY week in a television show. It takes a really long time. And when you make something that good, you don't want to just wreck it. Its an academic achievement, after all.

    Real robotics just isn't that exciting. Being a member of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems at my college, we're making something that moves on its own and records and responds to Video...THAT'S IT. Its actually not far behind the times, and ahead of the industry as it is.

    Its just not a lot of fun to watch remote control cars move around...

    Of course, you could just build sophistocated remote control cars and CALL it robotics...or BattleBots.

  • The robots are so powerful, a full-sized man could not push the American champion out of the ring (this was Martin Sargent, a bit skinny, but still a full-sized man). This is achieved (at least in this particular robot) through the use of a vacuum pump, which sucks the...

    I got that far and had the most vivid image of the human not leaving the ring because the robot had a suction device attatched to the guy's, erm, ...

    Ah, nevermind...
  • The allure of robot wars/battle bots/whatever is not watching them maneuver or negotiate obstacles; it's seeing machines get mashed! Just like with Motor Racing, there is an unwritten rule; audiences will pay to see destruction!

    The truth of the matter is that most competitor-built robots are pretty useless and inflict little damage on others robots, therefore, to up the 'destruction quota' Robot Wars has 'House Robots' that will beat up on any robot that breaks or ventures into the wrong area of the arena!

    Also, I read a post by someone who thinks watching autonomous robots fight would be fun.
    [BZZZT] Wrong.
    Having actually built several autonomous robots [] I can tell you that it would be the most BORING program ever to grace the beloved CRT. why?
    1. The sheer difficulty in building a machine that can drive itself is staggering! Car engineers have tried this for decades without success.
    2. Once you've got it to maneuver, how does the damn thing know where the opposition are? let alone where the walls and obstacles are! How do you tell the difference between robots and obstacles? Mind-bogglingly difficult.
    3. Assuming you got your robot to do the above, you then actually have to have a reasonably destructive weapon in order to win! and use it correctly! How do you test this? You cant just turn on this autonomous, chainsaw weilding maniac in your living room!!!

    At the end of all this, you'd have a program that involved lots of huge, hideously complex machines mercilessly attacking the walls, floors, etc. A highlight would be when one actually drove in a straight line before deciding that an object in the distance was actually an enemy and proceeding to kill thin air. Admittedly it might be interesting for Software people to try and analyze the logic beneath their behavior, but for Joe Shmoe it'd be dull, dull, dull.

    Asimov would not be impressed.

  • >Having watched Robot Wars quite a lot afterall,
    (>it's hosted by Lister off Red Dwarf)

    That would be Craig Charles.

    Robot Wars is much much better than Battle Bots.
    We get Battle Bots here in the UK (forget which channel).
    I watched it once, and thought it was rather rubbish.

    The robots were no better than some from Robot Wars, too.

    -- And let there be light... so he fluffed the light spell
  • Not... Quite.

    One person I know of is currently working on his Battlebot right now, and the basis for it is going to be a heavily modified Linux Router Project disk, using CompactFlash for the "disk", one of the Linux BIOS projects for boot, and a couple of wireless LAN cards for controls. He's keeping a radio in it for backup, but I'm betting that Battlebots won't ever be the same again.

    Not to mention the fact that there's a lot more tech in the R/C and Ham Radio worlds than most purely computer geeks want to give them credit for.

  • by kyz ( 225372 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @01:59AM (#316706) Homepage
    Am I the only one that is a little sick of the remote controlled battle bots, admit it, it would be interesting to see a couple fully autonomous bots going at it, completely independent of any external control.

    I agree that such a thing would be interesting. However, I also think computing Bayesian belief networks is fun. I don't believe either would make good TV.
    I think that kids fighting each other with robots they built themselves is good TV. It's a battle. It's gladitorial combat. It's war. It's real. It's the clashing of metallic bone and sinew. You're not watching two AI computer programs at work, completely ignorant to the skill and ingenuity of thought processes that went on to build them.

    Heck 99% of the fun would be trying to build one of these.

    Indeed. Only 1% of the fun could be shared with the viewers.

    If you want a program which was carefully constructed to share the joy of constructing machines to do some task, Junkyard Wars / Scrapheap Challenge is what you want to watch.
  • The irony is that when the program first started; to try out the format; the program makers asked a few brits to make some robots and then played them off against the robots from the American Battlebots program.

    The Americans slaughtered the UK bots.

    Looks like the shoe might be on the other foot now though.
  • 'Robot' is the Czech word for slave. Introduced in the film 'Metropolis'.

    Karel Capek (diacritics missing) in theater play "Rossum's Universal Robots". From Czech for "work".
  • Actually, in addition to RobotWars (which I find hugely enjoyable), the BBC has run a Robot Olympics event for two years running now, and some of that has been very enjoyable too. It has included
    • swimming
    • rope climbing
    • short and long distance races for several different classes including walkers
    • maze solving
    • football

    Having said that, I'm currently in a RobotWars team...

  • Wasn't that because the American and British "formulae" (to borrow a term from motor-racing) were different?


  • The #1 problem with Robot Wars- only the house robots get to have cool weapons! The competitors themselves are very much restricted in weapons design, resulting in very wimpy 'bots that seldom do any real damage.

    This is, indeed, a problem. We were working on the design of a weapon which would inject a two-part, structural chemical foam into other robots to burst them apart, but this is banned by the rules. So is enough flame to do any damage to anything, so are untethered projectiles, so is even water (again, we thought injecting salt water into an opponent could do quite interesting things to its electrics...).

    But the most irritating rule of all is that if you do any damage to the house robots, you have to pay for it! I thought Hypno-Disk [] was being very wussy last year in not attacking the house 'bots, but having read that I understand why. For those who haven't seen it, Hypno-Disk does not send it's opponents home in packing cases. If they can find bits big enough to fit in a shoe box, they're lucky.

  • Its on ch 36 In Providence RI on saturday nights. We love it!

    Free Database Hosting []

  • I have competed in RobotWars UK for the last 3 years, and have enjoyed most of my time building and competing with other robot builders.

    However the production company are quite mean. We fought on a Monday, won our first round battles, and then were told to go home for 3 days until the semi finals. Its not like we were expecting 4 Star accomodation or anything, a B&B would do. The production company wouldn't pay our travel expenses either, and award no prize to the winner other than a small trophy (that has been made by another competitor in the past, as they were too cheap to make one themselves).

    As most of you probably know robotwars is different to battlebots. In battlebots if there is a KO the battle stops, everyine goes away with their machine mostly intact. Whereas in RW if your robot is disabled, the house robots come in and beat the crap out of your robot, which weighs less than half what the house robots weigh.

    Now the production company are going to film a US robot wars, heres some details from an email received by a US robot builder:-

    **Stop Press ** Stop Press ** Stop Press ** Stop Press ** Stop Press **


    will take place from June 27 to July 1, 2001 in London, England.

    Winners will automatically qualify for the
    to be held on July 1, 2001 in central London
    with prize money totaling over $50,000.

    The qualifying process for the US Championship will take place throughout the United States over the next few months.
    All teams who qualify will be flown to the United Kingdom to take part in the mechanized mother of all wars being recorded exclusively for American Network TV.

    We will supply...

    * All freight and international flight arrangements. *
    * All international travel and hotel costs. *
    * A $2000 appearance fee per qualifying robot. *

    If you want to be part of the original largest and fastest growing robotic sport in the world, please contact the US Robot Wars Headquarters immediately.

    E-mail us NOW at

    Your robot MUST be built in accordance with the current
    "US ROBOTWARS Rules & Regulations."
    If you do not have a copy of these rules, please email us immediately.
    It is essential that you build to these rules as they differ from others currently available.

    Contact Details:

    Technical Inquiries:

    ...Let the Wars begin

    We havent even been told when we are required for filming!

  • I don't get it. On the early series of Robot Wars in Britain, various people (mainly some guy with a long beard) were introduced as being 'the champion of Robot Wars in the US', 'the founder of Robot Wars' and so on. This led me to think that the British Robot Wars was just an adaptation of an American show.

    Then I heard some mumblings on Slashdot about how Robot Wars had died / sold out, the original creator had been crushed by the soulless TV networks, et cetera.

    Now it seems that Robot Wars is being imported to America from the UK. But is it actually a re-import?
  • Why has nobody come out with an update of Robosport? It had a madly devoted cult following, and it would be almost uniquely well-suited to Internet play.

    You can find the original on some of the abandonware sites, but the copy-protection scheme (one of those wheel match-up things) has thus far foiled me from reliving the good old days.


  • by walnut ( 78312 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @04:19AM (#316725)
    What you are looking for is called the RoboCup. It is a AI/Robotics research competition where teams of 6 robots (2 defenders, 2 forwards, a goalie and a coach - the last sounds a bit funny) compete against eachother in a game of soccer.

    The goal is to beat the real world cup team by 2050.

    There are like four leagues (including a sony abio league). I think the big catch is that each team has to deliver a paper on AI/Robotics, on top of designing 6 robots...
  • The obstacle courses were scrapped after the first few series of Robot Wars. That's when I stopped watching - endless robot battles with nothing else are a bit too monotonous.

    The house robots are usually much tougher than the competing robots, but they don't have an 'advantage' because they are not part of the competition. Normally they act only when you go around the edge of the arena, or are pushed there. Myself I find the 'perimeter patrol zone' with Killalot and chums much more interesting than Battlebots' rather limp ramps and saws.

    Craig Charles _is_ annoying, it's true; but he doesn't talk for very long (unlike the two Battlebots presenters). If you've been watching the first series, with Jeremy Clarkson, be happy that he gets replaced soon.
  • But Millionaire was based on The $64000 Question.
  • I'm in the UK too. I love Robot Wars, its a very cool program with some real ingenoius designs. But Battlebots is just terrible. I couldn't watch more than 5 mintures before I had to turn the TV off. Its no wonder so many Americans want to go out and shoot each other, there's obviously sod all decent TV. Why not shoot those commentators. That I *would* like to see.
  • by tb3 ( 313150 )
    The first televised version of this was "Robot Wars" in the U.K. Their website [] mentions that "Robot Wars" is coming to the U.S. soon, but provides no further information. BTW, if you want to argue the merits of U.K. vs. U.S. robots, go to the message board at their site, the debate has been raging for months.
    Battlebots is the first U.S. version, seen on Comedy Central in the U.S., The Comedy Channel in Canada, and BB2 in the U.K. Some of the robots from the British series appeared in Battlebots and did rather well. The rules and weight classes differ between the two shows. Battlebots info is here. []
    Finally, TLC, one of the Discovery channel networks has a series called "Robotica" which starts airing tonight at 9:00 PM E.S.T. It seems to be a hybrid of RobotWars and BattleBots, but there's not much information on the website [].
    Information about the robots can be found on the Robotwars and Battlebots websites, and many of the robots (or their builders) have their own sites, with more technical info than you can easy digest in one sitting. Take a look at the Suicidal Tendencies site [] and look at how they machined the individual tractor treads out of aluminium blocks. These people are fanatical!
  • To paraphrase a message above, "there's the whole problem of Brits not getting most of the humor...". With only one "u" in "humor".

    The format of Battlebots is a parody of American sports (with two "s"es), pro wrestling in particular. As for the violence, I guess Brits would rather see the competitors get sliced and diced by the house robots than fight each other. And I guess you can't see any point to the driving skills needed in Battlebots, because after all, the Brits don't have NASCAR.

  • if you do any damage to the house robots, you have to pay for it!

    That's sick. It's obviously just a way to make sure that the house robots continue to look tougher than they really are. I hope somoene with deep pockets decides "what the heck" and takes one of them out sometime.


  • by iapetus ( 24050 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @06:03AM (#316748) Homepage
    Heck 99% of the fun would be trying to build one of these.

    Yes. Unfortunately, programs like this are made for the fun of the watching audience, who pay for the programs, and that's 1% of the fun. Why watch a handful of robots wandering around an arena trying to locate each other and failing when you can see Hypnodisc rip something to pieces?

    (Yes, I'd find it interesting too. But only if we got to see source code...)

  • The word 'robot' was invented by a Czech playwrights Karel and Josef Capek [] and first appeared in Karel's 1921 play R.U.R. [] (Rossum's Universal Robots). It is derived from the Czech word 'robota', which means "servitude, forced labor".

    In the play, humanoid worker robots rise up and destroy their human masters.

    Ironically, Josef died as a slave himself, in one of Hitler's concentration camp in 1945. Mercifully, his brother died before the war but not before the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia.

  • by kyz ( 225372 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @06:19AM (#316751) Homepage
    of course it would take a hell of a lot more skill to build a fully autonomous robot then it does to build a fancy rc car

    Apples and oranges. In Robot Wars, you have a lot of engineering work to do. Consider material stresses and tolerances, operating parameters for your industrial-strength batteries, motors and cylinders, Newtonian physics (A spike punch is useless! What part of "equal and opposite reaction" don't they get?), interior design, redundancy (so your robot can't be disabled with a tap in one little place), safety, and, of course, how to be strong against a large variety of opponents without vastly changing the design of the robot.

    In short, if you're building an RC car for Robot Wars, you've got the wrong idea. If you're writing any software for your robot, you've severely got the wrong idea; it's an engineering contest, not a computing one.
  • here's the whole problem of Brits not getting most of the humor.

    Ah! There was humour (with two u's)? Must have missed that. I just found it, well, loud and annoying. Read American.
  • You are certainly not the only one, my friend. I've been saying this for the longest time. There have been those that said watching autonomous robots stumble around in the arena looking for each other would be dull. To them I say, only if they're designed badly. And bad design is something that is everywhere. But I firmly believe that it could be done. Here's my suggestion to anyone who wants to earn my respect building a battle *BOT*: make it fully autonomous, but use your remote control for a "coach". Use it to tell your robot "Whoa, buddy, wrong way", or "WATCH OUT, HE'S COMING RIGHT AT YOU!" Leave the rest up to him (or her ;).

    I've been thinking about this for a long time, and I am completely convinced that it could work out. The idea is to put a semi-autonomous (fully autonomous, but with optional "coaching" from a human) into the official BattleBots arena - in other words, pitting it against human drivers.

    Laugh if you want, but I could truly feel proud of myself if I had built a ROBOT (not some RC car with a hammer on the end) that could get in just one good hit on its enemy, even if it got smashed to bits immediately after. But it could, with lots of work, be much more successful than that. (Have you seen the humans driving their "bots"? Many times it's like they've never driven it in their life. How often do the hammer ones ever actually *make contact*? Darn near never. Now THAT is boring, in my opinion.)

    I think it can be done. No - I KNOW it can be done. I may even try and do it. I'm not sure I can justify shelling out $thousands just to get ripped to pieces (and they all do eventually).

    [Blatant plug - Join the Indiana University Robotics Club!!!]

  • I can honestly say that the sportscaster
    crap is kept to a minimum - but I'm guessing that that's because the English are not very good at it

    Woah there! More likely the "sportscaster crap" is not present in the BBC programme because it is cheesy, pointless, unconvincing and a general waste of time!!!


  • by Tony Shepps ( 333 ) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:25AM (#316774) Homepage
    In my humble opinion.

    Production problems in Battlebots:

    • Scale ignored in shooting the battles. I was amazed to learn that the weight limit of some of the heavy classes is over 300 pounds. You aren't given a sense of how big and destructive these bots really are. Either some off-battle time should be spent watching a competitor destroying a common household object, or the playing field should be littered with things we recognize.
    • Rules encourage lame battles. If one bot is just a tiny little wedge and the other has a huge mighty pick-axe, you know already the wedge is going to win. That's just plain wrong. Also, I was watching an episode where all three matches ended in utterly lame mechanical failures. Not KOs, just "...something's happened to his power. Now let's watch the contentant moving the joysticks in all directions and shrugging, for thirty seconds." Yawn.
    • On air talent. What talent. Bill Nye is tragically underutilized and the rest of the team is, tragically, utilized. The interviews are meaningless, too short, and don't tell us very much. The announcers are predictable. Their faux excitement is faux.
    • Everything else. Let's see, they refer to squares instead of corners for some unknown reason, announce the winning "square" even though we don't remember which bot was in which square. They have a referee whose job it is, apparently, turn on the power to the arena. Their use and choice of music is poor. The lighting is unexciting. Their description of the bots doesn't include details that would make it interesting. The viewer finds it impossible to pick a favorite, which is probably OK because the best bots lose anyway.

    This is a country that specializes in making uneventful, boring activities exciting on TV. Battlebots manages to make a very exciting premise boring and uneventful.

  • I can't wait for the survivor robots. Imagine, living only off of 12 mb of ram, running W2k pro, and multitasking!!
  • Nick Hancock? I don't think so.

    For series 4 (just finished over here) the main presenter was Craig Charles, as has already been noted. He was assisted in the pits by Julia Peel, and the commentator was the same as it always has been :- Jonathon Pearce, a very shouty man who made his name commentating on football matches for Capital Radio.

    In previous seasons Phillippa Forrester was in the pits, and for the first season Jeremy Clarkson was the main presenter, but Nick Hancock's never had anything to do with the show.
  • Yes, the great junkyard seeding question. See The NERDS website [] for details

    In short: most cars in a junkyard will run fine. Most are gotten rid of when a part fails, the body rusts through or the car hits a tree and it's not worth fixing. Most junkyards pull the engines on the car since it's generally more valuable than the body: JW just leaves them in. There are a lot of other odd things you wouldn't expect to find there.

    However, the yard is seeded with certain items that are required for safety or that couldn't be found or hacked up. Examples: the rocket motors and the steam boilers and engines. You can't get a profesionally built steam boiler certified in England in less than ten hours, much less a hack job.

    Given some of the amazing bodge jobs I do see (cutting a propellor out of a chunk of wood with a chainsaw, or a 3000 RPM water pump made from a brake rotor and some welded on bits.) I'm willing to cut them slack


  • Sounds like you are describing the V1 - with a little more size information, I would be able to tell you for sure, but it does sound like the V1, which was an actual pulse jet engine from a WWII German V1 "buzzbomb", but mounted on a radio controlled "cart". The thing is huge (15-20 feet long), with the business end around 3 feet in diameter - did it have a large engine on one end driving what appeared to be a blower? Did the flame shoot out many feet?

    Just from your description - that sounds about right? It also sounds like you didn't have any ear protection. I went to the Phoenix show (96?) and even with ear-plugs, the sonic noise was deafening. It is surprising you managed to keep your hearing.

    BTW - as far as pulsejets are concerned, they are not pleasant to be around. Last year a small demo was given by Pauline and Co. in a warehouse in South Phoenix (ChemLab), which I helped to set up - a demo of a small (but damn powerful) pulsejet that was going to be used on a hovercraft for a future show (which was supposed to be in Phoenix, but got nixed hardtime by the PFD - thanks, bastards!). Amazingly loud! Mark told us about doing some testing runs on another pulsejet, and being around it running for about 30 minutes. He said he stopped the engine, and felt tingly all over. Soon he felt real bad - basically his nerves (from the vibration waves) had become hyper-sensitive, where the slightest noise or touch caused great pain - he said it was like this for about a week. Not fun...

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • When the Americans came over first time it was mainly development- the competitors had been at it for a couple of years in US, whereas the British had only had a minimal amount of time and hadn't had much chance to see what worked.

    This time? It's hard to say. The basic robot design rules are pretty similar as far as I know; but small differences can make a big difference to the result. Still, some of the robots in the UK are pretty good... as are some of the robots in the US.

    My feeling is that some of the better robots in the UK are more adaptable or rounded somehow, but I'm not sure why.
  • if you've ever played Core Wars, you'll note that about 90% of games end in a draw.
    With mechanical failures, programming oversights, poor sensory technology, I don't think we're at a point where this could get very exiting. Half the time these automated robots just stumble off into a corner, oblivious to eachother.
  • hey, I've seen fire on at least two occasions on battlebots, and smoke on many other occasions.

    My favorite was when Dissector was caught in the championship match, his hammer got stuck in the killsaw slot, and he was immobilized, but he rolled back and got the arm of the hammer across the killsaw, and basically cut off his own appendage to get free - and he ended up winning that match for the championship. That was awesome. You could not have scripted that fight better.

    Wedges DO seem to be the direction going in Battlebots, but I don't think we've heard the last word on spinners, considering Ziggo won the middleweight nut. Backlash did great last season, Toro was awesome, with that super powerful flipper bar, Vlad will be back, king of brute force bashing (I loved how he got wasted, flipped over twice, and he righted himself twice, then he got stuck under the hammer which broke off his little piston thing for righting himself). Plus, even though Mechadon and Snake were losers, that guy keeps coming back with these incredibly beautiful designs (which in my opinion, should be granted an asthetics category for a golden nut).

    The ones I particularly hate in Battlebots are the two-wheelers that either spin or flip back and forth. They just seem kind of cheesy - and they're totally not at all fun to watch if the driver doesn't know how to.
  • I really do like Battlebots, but maybe that's because I always fast forward through the commentators crap. PVR's and Battlebots are the perfect combo, you can watch a half hour episode in about 10 minutes.

    I WOULD like to see a rumble, all the bots vs. the commentators. superheavyweight would be fun.
  • Heck 99% of the fun would be trying to build one of these.

    For a similar, but much cheaper thrill, you might wanna check out the Mindrover [] demo.

  • The rules for Robot Wars weapons limit how destructive a robot can be, and the design of the challenges make 'destructive power' a lower priority.

    This is as opposed to Battlebots, where the sole challenge is to outlast or disable the opposing robot.

    I've seen most of the Robot Wars episodes that PBS has shown over the last two years, and I don't recall any bot with real damaging weapons except the house robots. The rules forbidding hardened steel really cripple Robot Wars weaponry.

  • If the robots are deliberately programmed to kill people, there's no more loophole than there is in "I didn't kill him, I just pulled the trigger, it was the bullet that killed him".

    Use an analogy that makes sense. You operate a gun. Of course you are responsible if you shoot someone. A better analogy would be to ask whether the gun manufacturer is guilty of manslaughter if some guy blows his own brains out with the gun. A robot is not under your control (which is why those remote control vehicles on BattleBots are not robots). If you create one and clearly proclaim that it is programmed to kill people, you're not responsible if some numb-nuts gets into a cage with it. Want to really make sure? Have the guy fighting it be the one that turns it on.

  • OK, Brit and long-term Robot Wars fan here.

    I _don't_ _like_ Hypnodisc.

    Look at most of the robots and they win by incapacitating their opponents somehow or (occasionally) throwing them out of the arena. Hello, Chaos 2.

    Hypnodisc, quite openly, set out to _destroy_ their competitors. Not just incapacitate so that it can't work without a few hours work but destroy. As a modelmaker (Meccano - Erector for the Americans here) and general creative person, I don't like the idea of deliberate, needless destruction of creative works.

    Hypnodisc have, regularly, reduced their competitors to small parts. In the last series they even destroyed a few batteries. This after the other robot had been clearly defeated and stood no chance of recovery. Yes, I know the whole point is to defeat your opponents in battle, but this is little more than mutilating the corpse.

    They are bullies, plain and simple, and I _wish_ they'd change the rules to allow the referees to stop a fight or penalise this form of action.
  • Scale: Robot Wars get round this by actually showing competitors and robots together, regularly. Or watching those things have to be carted into the arena.

    Wedges: Give them time. That was the case in series 1 of Robot Wars. Series 2, out pops Cassius. The reaction when Cassius proved able to right themselves was amazing. Almost no-one had seen that one coming. Series 3, most of the successful robots could self-right or run upside down, series 4 no-one got any distance if flipping them was actually a problem. It will wake up.

    I must admit, from all I've seen of the US robots so far they're dreadful compared to the state of the art over here. We've had longer to develop them, but still...
  • Hmm. Good questions. I expect I'll get back to you tomorrow.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"