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400 Battle Bots Fight, Toss Enemies At RoboGames Competition

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the why-are-we-training-them-to-fight dept.

Robotics 58

Andre writes "The 6th annual RoboGames were held in San Francisco last weekend. They welcomed a horde of 400 non-sentient, metallic warriors to do violent battle — against each other, of course. This army of remote-controlled and autonomous combat robots, along with walking humanoids, soccer 'bots, sumo 'bots and even androids that do kung-fu, was put to the test. Among the big winners was Canadian-made 'Ziggy' — one of the combatants in the 340-pound, super-heavyweight division (the biggest division) — who took home a gold medal for the fourth year in a row. The bionic brute proved its might against its final opponent, the 'Juggernaut,' by tossing it around like an empty pop can (and promptly making a mockery of its name) using a pneumatic flipper. Ziggy's newly-improved weapon results in unwanted (but totally cool) free-flying lessons for its opponents. At full power, the flipper can launch an opponent to the arena ceiling."

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Hasta la vista (2, Funny)

juanergie (909157) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402693)


Entertainment & Economic Woes (1)

PopeAlien (164869) | more than 5 years ago | (#28411977)

Battlebots at a bankers convention []

It may not do any good, but there's something to be said for entertainment value.

Best... Competition (1)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402729)


The arena ceiling!? (4, Interesting)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402731)

That is *awesome*. How is this not on TV anymore? Anyone know if it's on the Internet someplace? (other than really awful shaky YouTube crap.)

Re:The arena ceiling!? (1)

dunezone (899268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403353)

They had Battlebots on Comedy Central for a few years. In all honesty it was pretty boring and they cut Upright Citizens Brigade because of it.

The robots would fail after one or two hits. There was never really any massive destruction of the robots since when someone lost they wouldn't destroy the other robot out of respect or something.

Grant from Mythbusters, I think won the competition in the end, built a robot like the one in the videos from the article, would go really fast, slide under the competitor and flip it around.

Re:The arena ceiling!? (1)

dunezone (899268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403367)

Whoops, mistake, Grant actually built a robot with a hammer that beat the living crap out of robots, his was actually pretty cool. []

Re:The arena ceiling!? (2, Insightful)

hairykrishna (740240) | more than 5 years ago | (#28405933)

It was boring because, like the UK Robot Wars, they made the program entirely wrong. Nobody cares about the teams back story. The commentators knew nothing about it and added nothing. In a half hour program there was about 5 minutes of actual robots fighting.

There was potential there. Some battles were entertaining. It's also not true to say that there was ever any massive destruction (in the UK one at least). The 'spinners' with 30kg+ flywheels occasionally totally annihilated an opponent. 'Razer' in the UK also finished of a number of opponents with a hydraulically powered crushing weapon in a fairly permanent way.

Re:The arena ceiling!? (1)

mjensen (118105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28406375)

I remember Mouser-Mecha-Catbot getting caught in the corner with the 200 pound sledge. Pounded _flat_ with the arena operator laughing maniacally, and the owner pounding on the arena to get his bot out. The match was done and there was a winner, but the carnage continued.

Re:The arena ceiling!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28409871)

I think my favorite was the original Mauler from the first season run. Something that resembled a black ugly can and had quite a crude construction. But for all that it was, it was effective. (Seemed to cause the most actual destruction of any bot I saw in that show.) Once that high speed spinning flail got going, it was something to see. An example of rotating kinetic energy at its finest. It just had to get close and pieces of the other bots would be scattered on the arena walls. And after all that epic destruction, I was disappointed that a gear ring had sheared and failed leaving it only to be defeated by some kind of flipper and/or hammer bot. (But the bots that defeated it were nothing on the level desribed in the summary.)

First rule of Robot Fight club (4, Funny)

gijoel (628142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402743)

Is we don't talk about robot fight club. The Second rule is ...

*pulls out a flash card*

Oh, ah no smoking.

Re:First rule of Robot Fight club (1)

zygotic mitosis (833691) | more than 5 years ago | (#28405363)

Why aren't we allowed to smoke?

Shhh... We're not supposed to talk about it.

Flipbots = imba (3, Informative)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402747)

I remember watching battlebots and the matches were always good unless one of the bots was a flipbot (what ziggy is, and now almost all of them are cause it's an incredibly overpowered design) and feel that in such competitions flipbots should be banned.

Re:Flipbots = imba (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28402817)

Wah wah wah. The rules already ban a ton of potential weapons. The result? Matches (as seen on Comedy Central) were often extremely boring. Maybe it would be a better competition, but watching big hunks of metal ineffectually clunking into each other is not interesting.

Re:Flipbots = imba (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28402847)

Yes, soon as they started banning weapons I lost interest, what's the point in watching a "competition" that is fixed so the best can not compete. Instead they should have anything goes and let people come up with counters and more interesting designs if they want to stay in the game. There is no reason flipping has to be a match ending move.

Re:Flipbots = imba (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402897)

No projectiles and no flip bots = huge range of possibilities. The ONLY type of bot used after flip bots were shown to be impossible to beat were flip bots vs flip bots, which is incredibly fucking boring.

Re:Flipbots = imba (2, Insightful)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402947)

There was a good episode of UK scrapheap challenge where the teams converted full-size remote control cars for a smackdown in an arena marked out in a field.

Lots of energy, noise, damage and spectacle and the teams were safely 300 metres away on a hill. theres no reason they cant do that here. just isolate the audience and get some decent weapons going on.

Re:Flipbots = imba (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403059)

I'm saying no projectiles for a venue such as battlebots, but in an area that would make it legitimately possible with minimal to reasonable risk of danger? I'm all for homemade railguns and the like, that would be amazing.

Get DARPA (US Military) funding for this . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403153)

. . . why the hell not? They seem to be really interested in robot drones these days. And they already fund an "Robot SUV through the desert" challenge. The next phase should be robots, that can take out other robots. Maybe flip bots will prevail? Or maybe a Dalek-Thingie with a chainsaw will slice it in half first? Ok, The Doctor's K-9, armed with a Hellfire missle?

Only empirical evidence will tell us. Wake up DARPA! Get that checkbook out, real soon!

Now *that* would be entertainment.

Actually, now that I think about it, they probably already stage these exhibitions at Aberdeen Proving Ground . . . but the public is not invited to watch.

Re:Flipbots = imba (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28414139)

I'm not familiar with Battlebots on Comedy Central, but a couple of years ago, BBC 2 had a couple of seasons of Robot Wars, which was absolutely brilliant. It had flip bots which were indeed powerful, but also a lot of fun. Chaos 2 would often flip its opponent completely out of the arena. But flipping was by no means the only competitive weapon; Hypnodisk had a small blade on a heavy flywheel that literally tore its opponents apart. Great fun, and it did very well in the competition.

Shame they canceled it, though. There's not much on BBC 2 these days.

Flipbots are weak (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403559)

I say don't ban flipbots.

Flipbots are weak, a team just needs to exploit the weakness. Look at Ziggy, after it flips you it's totally exposed.

What about an Enveloper bot that grabs the flipper as it is thrust underneath and uses the combination of the flip and its own mass to tear the flipper off?

What about a Foldbot that when you flip it, simply has half of it fold over the other half and use the action to drive a spike into the other bot?

That's a lot of energy the flipbots are giving away for free. Don't let it go to waste.

Re:Flipbots are weak (1)

Auraiken (862386) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404023)

Completely agree with this in every way except a few issues. These competitions usually have weight restrictions and creating such a bot to combat the flipper genre is mighty hard to do without adding more weight or taking the place of more armor. Also, the complexity of the mechanism and the difficulty of pulling it all off during the competition makes me think that there should be some allowances given to bots that aren't of the flipper variety.

I would think that the competition should give advanced notice that they would be giving more leeway to experimental robots so that the competition actually has some differences over the years and not be dominated by single types.

Re:Flipbots are weak (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404185)

Ziggy is only an example of a superheavy flipbot. I saw one entrant on battlebots that was a dual sided flipper, the arm could be used to flip bots over, as well as flip the bot itself over (the flipper went both ways, and the bot was workable in the same way.

Re:Flipbots are weak (1)

Anonymatt (1272506) | more than 5 years ago | (#28407139)

There're other types to fight before you happened to get to a flipbot. Maybe in a few years there'll be autonomous subsystems that control responses to things like flipping apparatus. You know, robot vision to track parts. You could have a camera onboard that feeds to the operators. It would track movement and the operator could assist in guiding its tracking by selecting paths with a stylus or something.

Re:Flipbots = imba (1)

InfernalRuss (1180857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404975)

In UK's robot wars series there were always 2 robots that stood out to me "Razer" and "hypnodisc" these things were lethal! []

Re:Flipbots = imba (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28421153)

I miss hypnodisc...first time I saw that beast go to work...damn! What a monster.

Re:Flipbots = imba (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 5 years ago | (#28405743)

Robot wars here in the UK had a few contenders for alternate paradigms - there was one particularly expensive and high-tech bot that had a stabbing axe that could punch through a respectable layer of armour. There was also one that had a spiked flywheel that debuted by tearing a schoolboy entry into tiny chunks.

Problem is, if you don't have something to right yourself after a flip, you may as well just throw in the towel on your first match against a flipping bot. There was an early episode, a previously-dominating flipper bot got turned over by a wedge bot, and we thought it was all over, the announcer called it for the wedge and then the flipper bot promptly did a sumersault. The idea of self-righting never entered our minds until it happened in that match.

Re:Flipbots = imba (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28414267)

Pretty soon, every decent robot had some sort of self-righting mechanism, though. You simply need one to compete. And people got pretty creative about self-righters too.

Re:Flipbots = imba (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28412771)

Wow, this brings me back. I remember when I was in high school thinking that the flip-bot would have been beatable simply by taking advantage of it's limited range. I always thought that a pair of pikes on each face of a bot would keep the flip-bot at a distance and something like a Giant Hammer or maybe an Industrial Saw would finish the job. The pikes would first keep the Flip-bot at a distance preventing it from getting underneath the center of gravity and also act as a range finder for the weapon. There must have been something in the rules because it just seemed to obvious to me. It's a shame that by the time I had the money and know how to build one the show was off the air so I lost interest.

Re:Flipbots = imba (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28414289)

What would stop the flipper from flipping the spikes up? The flipper doesn't have to get below the center of gravity, it just has to get below any part of the robot that's firmly attached to the rest. A spike will do, although the flipper has to be tough enough not to get pierced by the spike, I guess.

400 ACs Fight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28402767)

Toss firsties at FrostPost competition

Arena ceiling? (1)

Mystra007 (1003560) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402785)

Arena Ceiling Cat is dodging incoming flying robots...

im not fooled (4, Funny)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402865)

Yeah thats how it starts off "ohhh awwww look cute little robots arent they funny"

Then later its with the running and the screaming and the shooting and buildings blowing up the time travel. Then its with the "Hello this is a final recorded message from john connor last of the humans"

Re:im not fooled (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28403009)

lol @ Jurassic Park + Terminator

Good thing Bob wasn't there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28402867)

He'd have torn that Flipper to shreds with a DFA attack!

Oh sure, he'd probably have a few broken bones to hide, but who wouldn't believe a BBS operator in Muncie could program a fully mobile humanoid robot?

Was Homer participating? (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402883)

I won't spoil this but if you haven't seen the episode of the Simpson's where Bart is "helped" by Homer to compete in a robot competition you absolutely must. I think it was one of the funniest episodes EVER at least for us slashdotters. (Funnier even than the treehouse of horrors!).

Has anyone ever been caught "participating" in one of these events in the way Homer did?

Re:Was Homer participating? (1)

lamadude (1270542) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403371)

The episode is called "I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot" and it's episode 9 of season 15

Re:Was Homer participating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28404219)

Bob Herzog did it in Muncie, but I'm not sure if he was caught.

Re:Was Homer participating? (1)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 5 years ago | (#28405937)

Danny Baker did it with an R2D2. It was so good it even fooled darth Vader, and he BUILT the thing.

'bots? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28402939)

Remote control cars with armor and weapons strapped on actually.

I understand that the reason for the form factor in this environment, but please, let's be realistic about this. This isn't anything exciting from a tech perspective. Hell, I could have seen the -exact same- thing 9 years ago on the original battlebots. At least that had Bill Nye.

Re:'bots? (1)

Auraiken (862386) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404045)

You should support this anyways as it's the newer field of using robots for entertainment value. This is literally giving us hobbyists a way to increase civilian sponsorship of robotics technology advancement as opposed to just the military path we're used to. (2, Informative)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 5 years ago | (#28402969)

As someone who works in the ABC/ESPN hierarchy, and is also a big nerd, I was blown away when rumor was that ESPN was bringing back the BattleBots brand to television. Eventually it was official that ESPN was looking to display a robot fighting competition on ESPNU (the College brand for ESPN) and see how much interest there was in it. The competition was between College teams and wasn't nearly the production level of the BattleBots show that was on Comedy Central years before.

And unfortunately that all fell through...nothing ever came out of it. ESPN didn't show any robot competition on any of its branded stations (or even on the web at ESPN360).

BattleBots on Comedy Central was amazing back in the day. High end production values, commentary and color analysis, and of course machines killing each other. Live crowd reactions, story lines, personalities (of the drivers)....I can't believe ESPN missed this opportunity. [] []

I guess CBS Sports Online is going to put up footage eventually of the competition.

Either way I remember rooting for Bio-Hazard vs Vlad the Impaler as much as I root for Sox vs Yankees.

I wish stuff like this would make a comeback. Especially because it's a nice way to generate interest in science, robotics, mechanics, engineering, math, and critical thinking skills for children as well as highly entertaining.

Lastly YouTube proving it's worth for me once again: []

I think you can figure out what kind of videos are on that channel... (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403209)

Either way I remember rooting for Bio-Hazard vs Vlad the Impaler as much as I root for Sox vs Yankees.

I didn't. Sox v Yankees involve teams you can't help but to take sides. Bio-Hazard vs Vlad was a better match because I was rooting for victory. No matter who took it in the end.

BattleBots sucked because they were not bots (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403525)

Battlebots did indeed have production values, but I always hated the show because they were just fancy remote controlled cars.

I want to see real human crafted AI having to decide what is up in the arena with saws and flame and terrible liquids. I want spectators to be required to sit no less than a half-mile away behind protective screens - and also have to wear goggles and helmets.

Robot fighting could be really fun, if done right. (1)

c (8461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403751)

> BattleBots on Comedy Central was amazing back in the day.

Yes, it certainly was "amazing". They took a 30 minute show which they could have filled start-to-finish with footage of RC vehicles beating the crap out of each other, and they added all the assorted filler junk like questionable"expert" analysis and commentary, talking head interviews, builder backgrounds, etc. Oh, and some random supermodel down in "the pit".

The end result was more like pro-wrestling than anything I could recognize as a science show.

c. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28407191) [] I think you can figure out what kind of videos are on that channel

Robot porn?

Ignore the "battle bots". Check out the humanoids. (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403011)

The "battle bots" are mostly the usual stupid R/C "battery-motor-wheels" stuff. But some of the humanoid hobbyist robots on display are getting good. Dynamixel servos, which have useful feedback to the controller, are taking over. (They have a 1mb/sec polled serial link shared by all the servos. It's RS-485, which is 1970s technology, but that's progress over the usual one-way PWM interface.) The latest prototype Dynamixel servos can reach 500 degrees/sec, which means there's hope of making legged running work. Some of the humanoid robots have a 6DOF inertial unit, although balancing software is way below the Big Dog level and none of the humanoids had force-sensing feet.

The better hobbyist humanoids are almost at the hardware level at which Asimo/Big Dog performance becomes possible. The more advanced robot hobbyists now understand about ZMP. We're getting there.

For better coverage, see Robots-Dreams [] , which also covers the Japanese hobbyist robot scene.

Re:Ignore the "battle bots". Check out the humanoi (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404289)

Thanks for the link. Something like this [] (or this [] ) is a lot more interesting (IMO) than the rolling wedge type of robot that's so common in this type of competition.

So... (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403461)

...when the robots eventually take over and kill all humans, do you think this day will be remembered as sort of a Robot Memorial Day? Will it be marked like we mark 9/11 or 12/7?

'Remote-Control Autonomous' (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28403463)

Alright, what the hell does 'remote-control autonomous' even mean? I think we're getting scammed by calling it that. If it's just 'remote control', then I doubt very much it's what could be called 'robot'. Robotic, maybe, but otherwise it's just humans against humans.

"non-sentient" for now. This technology will lead (1)

Dr_Ken (1163339) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404325)

ultimately to an actual Terminator style killer android. It's bound to. Give America's boundless and insatiable Pentagon and its parasitical enable in the military/industrial complex some group within the political class will urge the military brass to build them. Look at the logic. DARPA money for the universities and think tanks, big contract money for the war industries, big new budgets for the Pentagon, jobs for congressional supporters districts, and no more worrying about casualty reports on the Six O'clock news. Everyone body wins! Until Sky Net nukes us all. []

*not* 400, it was 63 - I was there (3, Informative)

societyofrobots (1396043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28404849)

There were only ~63 battlebots there. The other robots were mostly autonomous, and were not involved in combat.

Flippers and Wedges (1)

PrimalChrome (186162) | more than 5 years ago | (#28406463)

I really wish they would ditch the flat floor concept in RC bot combat. It leads to very boring battles largely between flippers and wedges zipping around. If it were run on a dirt or sculpted 3D course, competitor tactics and design would be more radical/diverse to compensate. Wedges and flippers would be useless with 30 degree slopes and hilltops.

Re:Flippers and Wedges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28411331)

Agreed. It would open up new vulnerabilities (large rubber tires, for example), and allow sub-challenges like king of the hill.

Further, I think any scrap that falls off a bot during competition should be left in the arena.

Ziggy? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28406803)

Deploy all ZIGS! For great justice!
I for one welcome our new robotic overlords.

Boring (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 5 years ago | (#28409377)

I've watched countless battles but I can't muster 1/10th of the enthusiasm some of these announcers seem to have. They're literally losing their mind when all the bots are doing is sitting there bumping in to each other. They desperately need to relax the rules on weapons. I assume this is why we don't see projectiles, explosives, electric shock, etc. As well as form factor. I can't imagine faced with all the flipper bots that someone hasn't just thought "Why don't I turn this guy into some kind of human style shape, or something without a circular base?"

keep the competitors safe in protected booths and let the bots loose with crazy weapons and arenas. It might prove to be actually be interesting.

MindRover: The Europa Project (1)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 5 years ago | (#28410817)

I just wanted to take a moment to remember MindRover [] , a great game that never really got to see it's full potential.

For the uninformed, MindRover was a game where you'd build autonomous robots and program them for a wide range of events, ranging from races to combat. The programming was done through a process called "wiring", where you'd link your robot's physical components (sensors, motors, weapons, etc...) to logic circuits of varying complexity through flow charts.

(It sounds tedious, but it gets to be fun once you figure out how it works.)

The game originally started out on Windows and was later ported to linux and Mac OS X.

If you can still find it, it's worth a look.

In the mean time, has anyone found some other robotics apps like MindRover? I found one called WebBots [] a few months ago, but it carries a $3,200 price tag. (Not exactly ideal for "playing around"...)

Re:MindRover: The Europa Project (1)

TheGothicGuardian (1138155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28415133)

Although not entirely in the same line as MindRover, I used to play Robot Arena and, later, Robot Arena 2: Design And Destroy [] , which consisted of creating and wiring a robot which you then manually control in combat against either AI or human opponents, in arenas featuring hazards (hammers, electricity, saws, etc.) and ramps and pits. Besides direct combat, there were also King of the Hill and Tabletop competitions, the former consisting of competing for time on top of a hill, and the latter consisting of a battle that takes place on top of a balancing plane that leans toward the side holding the most weight, the goal of which is to either destroy the opponents, or knock them over the edge.
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