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BattleBots & ESPN Strike TV Deal

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the hope-the-hosts-are-good dept.

120

NMajik writes "Although BattleBots has been largely removed from the public eye since episodes stopped airing years ago, a new deal has recently been struck with ESPN to return combat robots to the living room. Episodes will be broadcast as a series on ESPNU and ESPN2 after filmed at the competition in June 2008. This is the first notable progress towards televised combat robotics in years."

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120 comments

pretty sure (5, Funny)

deathtopaulw (1032050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712980)

we're way past stirke three with the editors inability to edit

Re:pretty sure (2, Funny)

DotNetFreak (1018190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713138)

One does wonder: How many stirkes is allowed per edirot. :D

I knew it was Zonk without looking (0, Offtopic)

fritzk3 (883083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714594)

With Zonk, it seems like there is no upper limit on "stirkes" allowed. Nearly every story that he publishes is flawed in some way.

In fact, as soon as I saw the misspelled title in my RSS feed, I thought to myself, "It's gotta be a Zonk story." Jackpot!

As I have said many times before, I've seen more screwed-up stories on Slashdot from Zonk than any other editor BY FAR. It's almost sad.

Re:pretty sure (1)

STrinity (723872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719744)

we're way past stirke three with the editors inability to edit
No initial capitalization, no punctuation, no apostrophe in "editors", and "strike" is misspelled -- but I'll just pretend you were being ironic.

Umm... Grammar? Spelling? (1, Funny)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 6 years ago | (#22712994)

I'm sorry, my interest in this story was completely overshadowed by the lack of comprehensible English in the posting... "Stirke" or "Episodes will be broadcast as a series on ESPNU and ESPN2 after filmed at the competition..." What? Me talk good english too... -Taylor

Re:Umm... Grammar? Spelling? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22713200)

>lack of comprehensible English in the posting...

Zonk fail English? That's unpossible!

Look at the keyboard! (1, Funny)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714624)

"Episodes will be broadcast as a series on ESPNU..."

Look at the "U" on the keyboard.

What's the closest key? "8"

That's right - "The Ocho" is just over the horizon!

(Now, if only all the commentators were cute blonds in dominatrix gear...)

Re:Look at the keyboard! (1)

Thalagyrt (851883) | more than 6 years ago | (#22716716)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESPNU [wikipedia.org]

However, he really is talking about ESPNU. If you even bothered to look stuff up before assuming you know everything about everything you wouldn't have made that post.

Re:Look at the keyboard! (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717844)

The parent comment has an 'off topic' mod, yet on reading the headline, my thoughts turned immediately to The Ocho. BattleBots fits right in with poker, Nascar, women's basketball, and the other stuff ESPN airs which aren't real sports.

However ESPN is the 'Entertainment and Sports Programming Network' and if fighting robots isn't a sport, it certainly is entertainment.

(Now if only all the commentators were Bob Costas in dominatrix gear...)

Ah but it's fun to speculate... (2, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713012)

o Is liquid nitrogen legal? o What about high voltage? o Blue-tack? o What's the maximum weight of demolition hammer allowed? o Are battle-bots allowed to be equipped with smooth bore cannon? o Are capacitor-fed tack welders permitted? o Cowboy Neal?

Re:Ah but it's fun to speculate... (2, Funny)

blackwing0013 (680833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713176)

How about equiping a robot with EMP?

Re:Ah but it's fun to speculate... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22713346)

Or a Tesla coil? The RF can drive pretty much any unshielded equipment, light bulbs within a few feet crazy. All of that without even worrying about the huge sparks shooting out.

Re:Ah but it's fun to speculate... (1)

artanis00 (1160791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713474)

One word: Pacemaker.

You'll probably want to stick to EM attacks that won't knock out members of the audience.

Re:Ah but it's fun to speculate... (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718560)

I remember, looking at the rules a while back, that they highly restrict things like that. No free-flying projectiles, no heat weapons, no electric weapons, no sticky traps, and so on. Combat must be physical.

It was an interesting show, although I hated how they tried to "WWF" it, and it did get a bit repetitive after a while. I think one interesting change they could do would be to ban wheels. That'd add a lot of creativity to the robot designs. A lot more snakes, walkers, perhaps even some "rollers" or "floppers".

Re:Ah but it's fun to speculate... (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713430)

A robot that plays the all time hits of Britney Spears when hit/attacked. Further attacks would continously increase the volume of the loudspeakers.

Win by default?

Re:Ah but it's fun to speculate... (3, Informative)

PhireN (916388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713546)

FTA:

New Experimental Class
For both competitions, BattleBots would like to open the door to a new "anything goes," experimental class. There are NO rules and NO weights for this class.
So the answer is yes, as long as you enter into the experimental class, otherwise check the rules.

Re:Ah but it's fun to speculate... (4, Informative)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22715066)

This guy [news.com] is going to kick ass in the experimental class.

The rules are here [battlebots.com], if you don't mind pdfs.

Weapon types that aren't allowed in the normal class include electricity and electromagnetic weapons (no EMP or Tesla coils), weapons that require significant cleanup (sand, oil, liquids, ball bearings), weapons intended to obscure vision (smoke, strobe lights), thermal weapons (no explosives or cutting torches, although you can use explosives to, say, drive a piston), mechanism fouling weapons (nets, tarps, caltrops), and no mutually destructive mechanisms.

There are also restricted weapons. Projectiles are allowed, but must be on a tether of no more than 8' in length. Covering weapons are allowed, but must be rigid and controllable. Airbags are allowed, but must conform to the rules for pneumatics, and can't be used as mechanism fouling weapons when deflated. Flywheels need to be installed properly, so that they don't fly off or apart while spinning. Large springs (20 lbs of force to extend or compress) need to be armed by the bot, not manually, and need to be able to be released manually without causing damage to the person doing the releasing.

Re:Ah but it's fun to speculate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22713792)

No, all the fun weapons are not allowed for "safety reasons".

Re:Ah but it's fun to speculate... (3, Interesting)

Merk (25521) | more than 6 years ago | (#22716656)

I think more important than what's allowed on the robots is what kind of surface will they be playing on. When they're played on very smooth, very flat surfaces, it becomes all about wedges and flippers. Every robot has a skirt with less than 1cm clearance on all sides, and the winners are the ones that can slip under that skirt.

If they changed it so that the games were played on uneven, non smooth surfaces, maybe even some dirt/grass, water, etc. you'd have to have exposed wheels / tracks. Wedges / flippers would no longer have a massive advantage.

Survival of the fittest in robot fighting competitions is, like all other survival of the fittest contests, based on the environment. If the environment is varied enough that one niche player can't dominate everything, you'll get much more interesting fights, and much more variety in design.

Re:Ah but it's fun to speculate... (3, Informative)

MattHawk (215818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719452)

Part of the reason for things being banned is a simple matter of safety. I've competed at several robot combat events with a middleweight, and even with the extremely strict safety rules and the high tech arenas, some of them are freaking dangerous. I've been within a few feet of an arena breach at one point, where some of the heavier robots hit a wall hard enough to come up over the safety stop and almost go through the bulletproof Lexan arena wall (fortunately neither robot managed to come clear out of the arena, but they knocked a wall section out and very nearly did). There have also been incidents of robots with cutting weapons putting holes clear through the wall (and at least one incident I know of where a robot put a hole in a 1/2" thick steel plate that was part of the arena safety system). The safety crew at the events takes these things very seriously - the fight IMMEDIATELY stops if there's any threat of the arena being breached, and the robots are disabled until the situation can be evaluated, but that's with the limited scope of the current rules - many of the things people would love to see in the robots would be damn near impossible to do safely around an audience.

Even if there isn't an audience, there's still the crews to think about. People have to work around the robots to repair them (many of the rules involve safeguarding the robot when it's around people), and to load them into and out of the arena. Also, some of these robots get torn up pretty badly, hence rules relating to making sure the robots aren't hazardous to clean up after they've gotten heavily damaged.

Re:Ah but it's fun to speculate... (1)

Fifth Earth (1172333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720064)

Liquid nitrogen? No liquid weapons allowed. High voltage? With permission if you want more than (IIRC) 72 volts. Blue tack? No entanglement weapons, which this would fall under. Maximum weight of hammer? Whatever fits in your weight class. Cannon? No untethered projectiles. Tack welder? Entanglement rules again (probably) as well as no open electrical discharges (as weapons--those caused by damage are of course permitted). Cowboy Neal? not a robot. (or RC machine) Also, EMPs are also not allowed, and you can't use Halon or other extinguishing gases to kill gas-powered robots. They're boring.

not robots (4, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713028)

Its mildly cool and all, but I'm sorry, remote controlled vehicles are not robots. They're kind of the complete opposite of robots.

Re:not robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22713124)

In the original Robot Wars (before TV took it) there was a class for autonomous robots.

Re:not robots (2, Interesting)

Stripe7 (571267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713154)

UAV's and other military robots are remote piloted, some are 100% remotely controlled others are semi-autonomous, we still call them all robots. The Battle-Bots are generally 100% remotely controlled, but as robot reflexes become faster than human ones, the Battle Bots will change and become more and more autonomous. Who knows, maybe the inspiration for a future War-Bot may be found in the Arena one day. What I find interesting is that Americans prefer their robots form to follow function whereas the Japanese prefer humaniform robots.

Re:not robots (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713736)

UAV = Unmanned aerial vehicle. As for the ground vehicles, they have names like explosive ordinance disposal vehicle, remote reconnaissance system, and so forth. Nobody calls them robots except for the soldiers (they're allowed to) and the ignorant (this is not meant as a jab). A boy with a remote controlled car doesn't own a robot, and neither do people who appear on TV shows like Battle Bots.

Re:not robots (1)

STrinity (723872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719804)

As for the ground vehicles, they have names like explosive ordinance disposal vehicle, remote reconnaissance system, and so forth. Nobody calls them robots except for the soldiers
So when the media talks about the police using a bomb-disposal robot to investigate a suspicious package, the reporters are soldiers? It's pretty common parlance to refer to remotely operated vehicles as robots.

Re:not robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22713896)

Oh, the Japanese have their robots' form follow function, too.

It's just that their function in Japan is being a lifelike masturbation tool.

Re:not robots (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719702)

This kind of lowered expectation creep is why terms like "artificial intelligence" and "virtual reality" don't mean the same thing they once did.

Once, "artificial intelligence" meant a self-aware machine consciousness, one that could pass any Turing test. Now it is commonly used to describe something as simple as an expert system that can employ rules to perform one specialized task.

Once, "virtual reality" referred to complete sensorium immersion into an artificial world a la "Johnny Mnemonic" or "Dreamscape." These days, any eye candy rendered from a 3D model gets the "VR" label slapped onto it.

And now, the term "robot" -- which originally meant a completely autonomous, unassisted construct -- gets applied to every waldo and semiautonomous vehicle.

I build UAVs for one of the biggest companies in the business and none of us -- not our customers, our marketdroids, nor us -- refer to our Unmanned Systems as "robots." And our vehicles possess far more autonomy than the RC cars with buzzsaws and battleaxes that are called "robots" on these TV shows. (Don't get me wrong, my fellow engineers and I would LOVE to build entries for these contests... but the only time we would call them "robots" would be when dealing with the media... even then, I would probably just say "'bot.")

And, as I am a grizzled Usenet grognard, you don't want to get me started on the widespread misuse of the term "spam." (Hint: consider "spam F5" vs. "Viagra spam.")

Re:not robots (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713294)

Yeah remote controlled cars with weapons is cool.

Automated remote controlled cars is freaking awesome. :)
A whole new field of malfunctions can occur.

We need AI. (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713472)

Battle Bots is awesome but I agree. It'd be much more impressive if they forced the bots to fend for themselves.

I always wanted to see a show that combined Battle Bots and Junkyard Wars too. You have one day and one garbage dump to put together the coolest bot you can and then have them tear each other apart. Otherwise it can become to much a competition of who can spend the most money.

I'm surprised the military doesn't sponsor these kinds of shows. It can only lead to more interest and more experience in building mechanized combat bots.

Re:We need AI. (1)

FesterDaFelcher (651853) | more than 6 years ago | (#22715846)

who can spend the most money

You obviously didn't watch a lot of competitions. How many times was a $10K all-stainless death machine taken apart by a 10yr old girl with a ladybug? A lot.

Re:We need AI. (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22716698)

YES... a much cooler show IMHO though I'd give them 3 days to do it not 1 and it would have to be a well stocked garbage dump... ie: buy out an old FRY's electronics store with all the parts still there ;-p

On ideas for weapons... how about a capacitor that discharges when your bot gets touched by another bot.... very passive aggressive but effective... just send your bot into the kill path of another and see if you can withstand the first hit long enough to totally disable the other bot. Maybe a little boring to watch though... unless it ends up setting the other bot on fire or exploding it's battery supply ;-p...

Re:not robots (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714106)

Yea, but "Remote Controlled Vehicle Wars!" or "Battle RC Machines!" isn't quite as cool a title. And I loved that show.... Anyone calling it "mild" entertainment shouldn't be given an insightful mod. I thought xfiles was sorta ok, here's my thoughts on it. Now mod me way up.

Jk of course. Loved xfiles but you see my point....

Re:not robots (2, Insightful)

BabySledge (756467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714360)

True enough..They are not robots. But they could very well be the bodies for robots. This show changed my interests from electronics to robotics and I have been back in school ever since. This show/format could produce a viable sport. As it is the original(American) spawned groups across the nation to form and compete with smaller more affordable (non autonomous(ro)BOTS. There were even a few tries at semi or fully autonomous bot battles. Hopefully it will stick around for a while this time. The USA needs something like this to spur robotics development, because right now we are a long way behind Japan, China, and Korea.

Re:not robots (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22715548)

The word Robot does not imply something is autonomous. Here are the Robotics institute of America's four classes of robots:

        * A: Handling devices with manual control
        * B: Automated handling devices with predetermined cycles
        * C: Programmable, servo-controlled robots with continuous of point-to-point trajectories
        * D: Robots capable of Type C specifications which also acquire information from the environment for intelligent motion

As you can see, battlebots clearly fall into category A.

Re:not robots (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22716016)

Being a, "robot" in most circles doesn't require autonomy. In common usage the term has grown to include automata, remote-control devices, and anything that can appear to operate in a robotic capacity.

Re:not robots (1)

prestomation (583502) | more than 6 years ago | (#22716920)

I agree. My father and my brother are heavily involved in FIRST robotics. Apparently, when it started, the competition was all autonomous. Now, they have been giving the team more and more direct control of the robot every . year

Re:not robots (1)

WhiteDragon (4556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718788)

Its mildly cool and all, but I'm sorry, remote controlled vehicles are not robots. They're kind of the complete opposite of robots.
They are robots, but they are not autonomous robots [wikipedia.org]. Wikipedia's article on robots [wikipedia.org] gives some defining characteristics of robots, but it is not a definitive list.

A big fat goatse in your face (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22713072)

GNAA rules! [twofo.co.uk]

You nerds love it.

Awesome (4, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713096)

I missed that show. My father and I did not connect on a lot of things, but robots thrashing the crap out of each other was something we could both share....

That and Betelgeuse from the Howard Stern show.

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718046)

That and Betelgeuse from the Howard Stern show.

How did you share Betelgeuse from the Howard Stern show?

Re:Awesome (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718102)

Mmmmm. Slowly with some onions and sardines. Savored every moment of it :)

Pervert!

We watched him on TV and laughed at what the chicks did for him obviously :)

About time! (4, Interesting)

iansmith (444117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713118)

My friends and I always thought that BattleBots on Comedy Central was a bad idea.

The humor was funny, but the sportscasting was awful. Weird stats, rarly any good discussion over what happened or any more details. The after-fight interviews were pretty much just, "How did you feel about winning?". And the crazy stats and numbers rarely had any relation to the judges scores, which were glossed over and never explained.

We always wished ESPN would have shown it.. THEY at least know how to host a sporting event. Hopefully they will treat Battle Bots just like any other sport this time around, explaining judge decisions, giving people a better idea of why someone wins, focusing on the exciting parts more than long, long clips about someones garage.

Here's to hoping we get lucky and ESPN doesn't screw it up this time around. :-)

Re:About time! (4, Interesting)

Matrix2110 (190829) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713164)

...My friends and I always thought that BattleBots on Comedy Central was a bad idea.

If ESPN treats the sport at least half as well as NBC did with American Gladiators, We may be in for a treat!

ESPN has a rep to keep up, and sports show crews tend to be fanatics. So there is much upside.

Re:About time! (2, Interesting)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714446)

"ESPN has a rep to keep up"

A rep to keep up? They show Scrabble tournaments!!! I saw a dominoes tourney on there once. I've also seen darts and billiards. If you've seen any of those, you'd notice the coverage crews were anything but fanatic or even enthusiastic.

Re:About time! (2, Insightful)

kalirion (728907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22715296)

The worst part is that only one or two types of bots ever got anywhere. There were some very imaginative and cool designs, but none that could compete with a simple wedge.

Re:About time! (1)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720018)

The worst part is that only one or two types of bots ever got anywhere. There were some very imaginative and cool designs, but none that could compete with a simple wedge.

****

There was one that did amazingly well, though that was different. It had a giant triangle assembly that spun. With 10lb sledgehammers on the ends. Wedge bots were helpless against it because they would get mauled before they could get in range.

Which is why they need to make it *less* restrictive. There are always ways to counter a design.

Add in a few other types of weapons and methods of powering the robot as well. The combat and lethality of the machines needs to be uncreased. ie - allow drills and ball bearings and so on(just make the floor slightly sloped a couple of degrees from the center so stuff rolls off, including dead robots)

The arena needs to have more obstacles and less things that destroy or kill the robots. Leave the destruction to the bots as much as possible.

There were several instances in Battlebots where the two bots couldn't do any damage to each other(most notably wedge bots). The bot must have a weapon capable of damaging the other one(s) that extends from its body. Otherwise you could just make a giant titanium ball and outlast the other bots. That's boring.

I'd also suggest limitations by cost as well as self-built (no sponsors allowed) and other categories.

Honestly... (2, Interesting)

xzaph (1157805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713120)

I always preferred Robotica over BattleBots - the former had interesting courses and whatnot that made things less monotonous than BattleBot's "WWE"-style straight up fight.

boring (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713140)

The idea sounds better then it is. in execution the show was slow and dull, with robots always getting stuck or unable to land the killing blow.


maybe if it got some funding behind it and some interesting idea's came out of it it's be more fun, but the designs are all predictable and revolve around the overhead axe or a flipping motion.

Re:boring (5, Interesting)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713318)

Until some real new idea comes out. On the UK 'Robot Wars' it was turning into a battle of the flippers v the axes, until innovations like HypnoDisc and Gemini appeared. HypnoDisc had a heavy horizontal spinning disk with blades, and a very low CoG. It span up until it had masses of angular momentum, and then all the other robots just bounced off it with massive gashes. Version 1 was liable to being flipped, but in the next series they added a self-righting mechanism. Gemini was a 'clusterbot': the robot split into two independent parts, each with a flipper. Combined they were below the weight limit so it was all legal. Other bots found themselves facing two small light flippers, and so couldn't use the usual tactic of pointing their dangerous end at the opponent.

Re:boring (1)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713512)

I'd like to see battles involving the house robots from the world's various iterations of robot wars.

That would be cool.

Re:boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22715922)

I thank the tubes for Robot Wars - that was all kinds of awesome. I thanked the tubes again when I found this: Spaced - Mettle [youtube.com].

we need tethered robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22720626)

Introduce a tethered robot class. Batteries are expensive, limit match length, and impose power constraints.... basically batteries limit the carnage. But if you could hook up an extension cord, you'd have a free wheeling deathbot with unlimited options for weaponry.

Robot Wars... (4, Informative)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713226)

Dunno if any of you over the other side of the pond ever got this show, it stopped in 2003, and was presented by Craig Charles (oh he of Red Dwarf fame).
Was an awesome program, with a whole load of different teams, ranging from a 13 year old girl with her Dad to a major university grad team and a Army engineers team.
Was pretty decent in it's day. Maybe they should bring this back.

Re:Robot Wars... (1)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713286)

Robot Wars was awesome! It aired here in Australia several years ago (or perhaps it was on cable?). Whatever, was definitely worth watching.

I vaguely rememember seeing the US variant, but only one episode. Certainly the UK variant had better presentation.

Re:Robot Wars... (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713320)

Yeah, the Brits always do things like this properly. Any time I watch the American versions I think "yeah, good show, but it'd be better without the commentator being a completely over-zealous tit". Jeremy Clarkson was okay in the first series, but I think Craig Charles and Phillipa Forrester were the best team.

Big battles are fun, but what you need is the extra skill and variance of the games like Gauntlet and the variety of "trials" they did :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robot_wars [wikipedia.org]

Re:Robot Wars... (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 6 years ago | (#22717860)

Sorry, but yeah, good show, but it'd be better without the commentator being a completely over-zealous tit". + Jeremy Clarkson was okay in the first series, does not compute.

Re:Robot Wars... (1)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713458)

Agreed. I saw one of the US version; it was awful, no trials, totally hammed up presenter, almost as bad as the Red Dwarf US version. Given that Craig Charles was in both Red Dwarf and Robot Wars, it's weird that the US versions of both were dreadful.

Re:Robot Wars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22713802)

I used to watch Robot Wars and Craig Charles was a great host.

I also remember when there was a sort of 'revolution' in their robot weapon designs. One team made a horizontal spinning disc that absolutely shredded every robot they came up against. Brilliant.

Re:Robot Wars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714628)

Didn't Razor also in Battlebots?

Re:Robot Wars... (1)

Rhapsody Scarlet (1139063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714910)

I really loved that show. I can remember watching the first season (which was presented by Jeremy Clarkson back then) on BBC2. It was a bit of a pity to see the gauntlet scrapped after the second season, but there were a lot of fantastic fights. Chaos 2, Hypnodisc, Bigger Brother, Tornado, Razer, some really memorable ones. Ah memories...

Don't Discount ESPN (1)

seattle-pk (1252976) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713338)

Though ESPN may seem like a junket of jocks crazy on sports, the cable network has a solid past of coverage on topics outside of conventional sports. Case in point, they have successfully covered the World Series of Poker, National Paintball Championships and soon to be MLG (Major League Gaming). Each of these areas had little to no coverage in the past, while the production quality was quite poor. The World Series of Poker after being made popular on ESPN grew into one of their most popular shows, while those familiar with paintball were very impressed with how ESPN covered the NPCC.

Of course, BattleBots and the MLG are on the peripheral of mainstream media even compared with poker or paintball. It would be surprising for either of the shows to be a run-away success, but I believe that ESPN understands how to market each show to highlight its strengths and appeal. Comedy Central approached the show more as an amusing gag and never quite found the right rules to make for an interesting fight.

While there is no guarantee for a successful show, ESPN is also the network that brought the NFL from public television to cable. If the most watched sports franchise can agree to jump ship, it has to say something about their trust in ESPN. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Re:Don't Discount ESPN (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714578)

Other than the two of the worlds most popular sports: Soccer & Rugby. Seriously: boxing, gymnastics, paintball all these 'unconventional sports' but nothing about real sports. Probably has something major to do with no 'commercial breaks'. So record the match and play it back and just insert a commercials at throw ins but don't skip play.

I've never introduced Rugby to a friend who didn't enjoy watching it over American Football.

Re:Don't Discount ESPN (1)

pshumate (1004477) | more than 6 years ago | (#22716018)

I remember a Magic:The Gathering competition on ESPN2, about ten years ago. So yeah, I agree.

And for all you Battletech fans... (3, Funny)

AceMarkE (154966) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713864)

Next up on ESPN: Davion vs Steiner, live from Solaris VII!

(maybe we should get these guys [mechaps.com] involved to speed up the process).

Kornheiser vs Wilbot (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#22713998)

I can't wait to hear those two girly men scream and nag and shriek about what a moral outrage it all is. The winner can bury an ice ax in Skip Baylis's head.

Extreemly light weight class. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714224)

I would love to see an "everything goes" very light weight class.

Electronics are pretty cheap these days, if you do not use a high end remote control and top of the line motors (that you see almost always on these shows) Use lego to build the body, and try to add some light weight damage doing weapons. Flamethrower sounds like fun. I want destruction, not the pushing around making a few dents in heavy armor battles.

Essence of nerd quote: (1)

Foolicious (895952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714236)

This is the first notable progress towards televised combat robotics in years.
"Televised combat robotics"? Very nerd. No -- very very nerd.

Computer Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714294)

Hmm anyone know of any good 'robot wars' / 'battle bots' computer game?

I hear there are some in which you can program the robots yourself yourself.
Others that you can buy upgrades, etc...

Preferably the game should have more than 16 colors. ;)

How to improve the show (5, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714348)

Since I'm happily employed and unlikely to end up as an advisor for the show, I'll throw in a few words of advice for ESPN.

1. Do something about the wedge/flipper bots. There are plenty of methods to deal with them that don't involve a simple ban on the design type. But trust me when I say that BattleBots was being done in by what appeared to be a never ending supply of squat cheese wedges.

Why spend time engineering a novel robot when you could stick a motor and a hydraulic arm into a wedge and have a good chance at winning?

2. Give them a real amount of time to fight. Comedy Central tried to cram the whole tournament into something that was far to short. Let the damned things fight.

2.1: Let the damned things fight. The course doesn't need to be 'extreme' and deadly. Sure, put in a few obstacles but don't turn the course into a third opponent. Nothing like watching a good battle only to see one opponent DQ'd after some goofy piece of scenery flips over for no reason.

Imagine watching a UFC match. The opponents have separated after an amazing show on the mat. They are circling one another, knowing that if they show the other any opening that it will be taken advantage of. This is a fight to go down in history books gentlemen. I haven't seen one like this since... Opps, there goes the trap door. Bob Tartarsky wins.

3. It doesn't need to be the WWF/WWE to be entertaining. No need for over the top announcers that act like 8 yr olds on meth. Keep the commentary on topic and interesting, not loud and idiotic.

4. This one follows number 3. We can get our bikini babes on the internet, you are not SPIKE tv.

5. Give a reasonable stipend to the robots that compete. These things are expensive, but are expected to enter into a fight where their entire investment could be flushed away. The designer of the robot shouldn't have to be a wiz at getting sponsorship. Don't ban sponsorship, but give the anti-social geeks a chance.

6. Consider price caps in addition to weight restrictions. I'd be interested in seeing the $10k robots fight the $10k robots.

Re:How to improve the show (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22717334)

... There are plenty of methods to deal with them that don't involve a simple ban on the design type. But trust me when I say that BattleBots was being done in by what appeared to be a never ending supply of squat cheese wedges.

I agree. I saw several of the champion bots -- like Vlad the Impaler -- used metal skirts around their bot to protect from flipping, AND the bot could operate upside-down if it actually did get flipped.

Ziggo was really effective against flippers and wedges. I think the bot won the Gold Nut three times for the light-weight division. He was a little bot with a spinning shell that had little blocks welded on the top, looked like an inverted dull blender. Whenever a wedge or a flipper even got near Ziggo to flip it, they just got pounded by the spinning top and thrown aside; usually quite spectacularly. :D

Re:How to improve the show (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718302)

1. Do something about the wedge/flipper bots. There are plenty of methods to deal with them that don't involve a simple ban on the design type. But trust me when I say that BattleBots was being done in by what appeared to be a never ending supply of squat cheese wedges.

I think the best way to deal with it is just for the bots to evolve. There were plenty of wedge-resistant bots showing up in later seasons, and it doesn't necessarily have to dictate the entire design. A lot of bot makers were too into making the kind of bot they wanted to make, without worrying about its vulnerabilities. If your bot is vulnerable to a simple wedge, then that's a pretty big problem.

I do remember some of the stronger flipper bots (Torro was one iirc, there were other designs from the same group in other weight classes) causing major problems, simply because with the power of their hydraulic flipper even wedge-resistant bots that could operate inverted had a hard time after being tossed five feet into the air repeatedly.

2.1: Let the damned things fight. The course doesn't need to be 'extreme' and deadly. Sure, put in a few obstacles but don't turn the course into a third opponent. Nothing like watching a good battle only to see one opponent DQ'd after some goofy piece of scenery flips over for no reason.

I kind of disagree. I think the biggest problem with at least the BattleBots arena was that the hazards weren't potent enough. Those little saws wouldn't do much damage and would only flip over the most top-heavy of bots. The only ones that had a reasonable chance of causing damage were the screws on the edges. So you'd have one bot that was a "control" type of bot, and would essentially be able to cart the other bot around the arena, and hold it over the saws which would do... nothing. Pretty disappointing for what otherwise appeared to be the superior bot/driver combination.

If you want to liken it to UFC, think of it being like a submission hold... except because your opponent is metal, squeezing them in a full nelson while pressing their face into the mat isn't very effective.

Re:How to improve the show (1)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720390)

I kind of disagree. I think the biggest problem with at least the BattleBots arena was that the hazards weren't potent enough.
****

I think that there should be real obstacles in the arena as well as varying terrains and levels. So, for instance, if you are against a wedge bot, you can just roll up onto a raised area(a few inches higher than the surrounding areas) or maybe move over to the astroturf area.

As for things that damage them, while I'm not a fan, it's mostly because you were right - they lacked any real ability to kill the bots.

1:Remove the edges/gutters. Tossing off or down a pit is lame.
2:Remove the screws and other things at the edges that they can get caught in.
3:Put in very mean weapons in the center and corners - things that are vicious and banned from the normal robots.

Flame throwers, electric shocks, electromagnets, huge spinning hammers(center of course), and so on. Designing your robot would have to take into account the hazards as well.

Re:How to improve the show (1)

deanpole (185240) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718304)

Stop the wedge-bots by adding texture to the play surface. It would force designers to include suspension and some clearance.

Re:How to improve the show (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718794)

Introduce a tethered robot class. Batteries are expensive, limit match length, and impose power constraints.... basically batteries limit the "deadliness". But if you could hook up an extension cord, you'd have a free wheeling deathbot with unlimited options for weaponry. And perhaps the added power can spur someone to create a true walker.

Re:How to improve the show (2, Interesting)

Fifth Earth (1172333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719936)

Speaking as someone who has actually competed in Battlebots, I'll address some of your questions.

1: It's a legitimate concern, one that crops up time and again in the builder community. The simple answer is, basically nothing can be done about it. We want to encourage everyone to join the sport, including people who don't have an extreme amount of technical skill, and a wesgebot is the simplest kind to build. Many teams build a wedge for their first robot, just to "learn the ropes", and then go on to build other more complex and interesting designs. We can't get rid of the wedges without scaring new competitors off, and in the end, I think it's worth it.

However, Re: the hydraulic arm, you're misunderstanding a couple things. First, I only know of two robots in the entire sport that ever used real hydraulics (not to say there aren't more, but it's extremely rare). You're probably thing either of pneumatics, or, more commonly, just regular linear electric actuators. The former is very hard to use and should never be denigrated as too easy (or boring for that matter--see Inertia Labs, The Judge and Ziggy, for example). The latter is relatively easy, but see above, and give the team credit for making a 'bot that actually does something instead of being a totally basic ramming wedge.

2: Time is money. Everyone would like to have more matches and more fighting, but it isn't cheap to run a tournament, and it isn't cheap for the teams to be at the tournament competing. Of course, better prizes and more publicity for sponsorship would fix some of this.

2.1: Yes. Most tournaments these days have very minimalist arenas, and most builders like it that way.

3: Yes.

4: Are you male? EVERYTHING needs bikini babes.

5: If ESPN can afford it, sure. but I doubt they're willing to shell out. On the other hand, ESPN coverage will be a tremendous boon for sponsorship deals. Nobody is sponsoring these days (even though for most companies a significant sponsorship deal would be a drop in the bucket) because nobody sees the competitions, but international coverage would certainly do the trick.

6: They'd have to calibrated to each other i.e. weight class AND price. I could easily make an indestructible half-ton wedge for $10k, and that would be stupid.

For my own part, I'm worried about the experimental class. As someone who has seen and been close to these things, the current crop of superheavyweight shell spinner robots genuinely scare me. In all honesty, the current standards of arena design are already not totally safe for these things to be fighting in. Any significantly larger version of these robots with the same design, which seems probable, would be quite simply a danger to the audience and everyone else around it, even within the arena. Now, I'm all for Mechadon coming out of retirement, but if I was in charge, I wouldn't let (for example) a 500-pound shell spinner actually fight in anything resembling a conventional arena.

Re:How to improve the show (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720748)

1. One of the ways that I would hope we could see less of the 'simple' (yes a relative term) wedgebots is through a greater amount of competition. Hopefully if this genre takes off, we will see a lot more competitors.

Think 'Ninja Warrior'. They give it enough time, and intially allow 100 people to participate in the first round. This gives them a good pool of talent out of which we get to see the real competitors at the other end. (Unfortunately for NW, some of the returning talent makes a simple mistake and we don't get to see them for another season. But that is a NW problem, not Battlebots) It would seem that Battlebots needs to be around long enough to get big enough for more people to participate. Even if it doesn't eliminate the wedgebots, it may at least provide us with a wider range of contestants in the early stages.

As for the 'hydraulic' arms. Thanks for the clarification, though I was mostly just referring the tactic of implementing a 'flipper arm' as a weapon when a lot of the general population seems to expect something a bit more or different.

2. Yup, hopefully as the audience grows, the money will too. That's why I'm glad this is ESPN taking over instead of SPIKE. ...

6. Agreed. It was mostly my random thoughts. I'll probably be happy with just the basic ultralight, light, medium, and heavy categories.

The experimental class would definately be something that goes way beyond the normal expectations of a battlebot tournament. I'd estimate it would have to be something like a 'season finale' or yearly tournament with some gargantuan prize attached. I could quickly see that class becoming the 'corporate' class. However, access to a good junkyard could make a very interesting competition.

You are absolutely correct that such an event could be too dangerous for the typical coverage. Of course, I also make my living working with autonomous UAVs... could be such a cool way to 'showcase' your company's latest and greatest. (please?) :)

Host? (1)

tzjanii (1170411) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714618)

Any word on whether Bill Nye will be returning?(In classic slashdot fashion, I haven't read the article yet, but I figure something like that would be summary-worthy news...) That was probably one of the few things they could have done to make a show with giant fighting machines any better, putting Bill Nye on. I would think Adam & Jaime(the Mythbusters, for those who don't know) would make pretty good hosts too, if they didn't, you know, already have their own TV show...

Re:Host? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22716290)

you do realize that jamie hyneman has a history with battlebots, right?

http://www.battlebots.com/meet_the_robots3/meet_team_profile.asp?id=47 [battlebots.com]

from wikipedia: The robot had a shell made from a wok and was spun by a lawnmower engine. Blades attached to the shell caused grievous damage to its opponents, removing bodywork and in some instances causing them to be thrown over the Lexan safety shields into the audience. After two fights it was deemed too hazardous to compete by the event supervisors and the insurance company. It was given co-champion status in exchange for withdrawing from the competition.[2]

and grant imahara of the mythbusters secondary team built deadblow, a decent ranked lightweight bot:
http://www.deadblow.net/Pages/NEWCREW.htm [deadblow.net]

Big Deal (0, Troll)

decalod85 (1214532) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714768)

Most of the matches featured what amounted to over-sized, remote control cars trying to flip each other over. Boring! I have a solution: onboard, 12 gauge shotgun!

Uh... Yeah... (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718158)

Battlebots was decent when it first came out on Comedy Central, but once they started replacing Bill Nye with porn stars, it was all down hill. I leaving that series the moment "Buddy Lee Don't Play in the Street" won a match. Now realize that this was simply a stuffed animal sitting in a remote controlled firetruck. It had no weapons at all and was torn to shred by the opposing robot, because it DID have a weapon. Watching that stupid thing win destroyed any remaining interest I had int he series. And that's not to mention the extreme boredom that became of it once everyone began using "wedge" bots.
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