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Robotics Entertainment Games

400 Battle Bots Fight, Toss Enemies At RoboGames Competition 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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400 Battle Bots Fight, Toss Enemies At RoboGames Competition

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  • baby

  • The arena ceiling!? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JCSoRocks ( 1142053 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @01:09PM (#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.)
    • 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 compet
      • Whoops, mistake, Grant actually built a robot with a hammer that beat the living crap out of robots, his was actually pretty cool.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadblow [wikipedia.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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 U

      • by mjensen ( 118105 )

        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.

  • by gijoel ( 628142 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @01:11PM (#28402743)
    Is we don't talk about robot fight club. The Second rule is ...

    *pulls out a flash card*

    Oh, ah no smoking.
  • Flipbots = imba (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hubbell ( 850646 ) <brianhubbellii@l ... m minus math_god> on Saturday June 20, 2009 @01:11PM (#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.
    • 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'

      • 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 notic

      • by Hubbell ( 850646 )
        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.
      • 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.

    • In UK's robot wars series there were always 2 robots that stood out to me "Razer" and "hypnodisc" these things were lethal! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCzrBR3cyCg [youtube.com]
    • 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-do

      • by mcvos ( 645701 )

        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.

  • Arena Ceiling Cat is dodging incoming flying robots...
  • by sentientbeing ( 688713 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @01:26PM (#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"
  • 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?

  • 'bots? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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.

    • 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.
  • ESPN....man.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by VinylRecords ( 1292374 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @01:39PM (#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.

    http://science.slashdot.org/story/08/03/11/064233/BattleBots-amp-ESPN-Strike-TV-Deal [slashdot.org]
    http://www.battlebots.com/BattleBots.com/Events.html [battlebots.com]

    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:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/Battlebotvideos [youtube.com]

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

    • 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 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.

    • by c ( 8461 )

      > 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 scienc

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @01:44PM (#28403011) Homepage

    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 [robots-dreams.com], which also covers the Japanese hobbyist robot scene.

  • ...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?

  • 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.

  • 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
  • by societyofrobots ( 1396043 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @06:22PM (#28404849)

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

  • 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.
  • 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 st

  • I just wanted to take a moment to remember MindRover [cnet.com], 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 f

    • Although not entirely in the same line as MindRover, I used to play Robot Arena and, later, Robot Arena 2: Design And Destroy [wikipedia.org], 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

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