One of my big aims for a number of years has to be get involved in robotic combat - that is to design, build and fight radio-controlled robots.
This blog entry goes into how people get into this sport, why it appeals so much and how I plan to get started.
What's the Appeal?
To most people in Britain, the phrase 'robatic combat' is interchangeable with 'Robot Wars'. If you have ever watched the show you will likely have seen a wide variety of creative and original designs. I would certainly describe it as a fantastic entertainment Sadly, the community of active robot builders is fairly small and I think it is a real shame. I think that it is a fantastic example of STEM being fun and I believe more children would take an interest in these subjects if they participated in robob building. If you've never seen any robotic combat have a search on YouTube for either Robot Wars or BattleBots.
Why isn't it More Popular?
Say if I felt inspired by watching Federer and wanted to give tennis a try I could go to the local club with a friend, pay £10 and pick up a racket. With robotic combat it would be harder to find a friend who is also interested, there is no local club, it's expensive to get into and requires a lot of learning even to build a bad robot.
What Could Be Done?
My personal belief is that robotic combat clubs in schools building beetlweight robots for inter-school competitions would address several of these issues: there would be guidance, community and accessible competition. Moreover, building a beetleweight is a lot less expensive than a heavyweight.
Robot combat has different weight classes. In the UK they are:
AlthoughI have lamented the lack of robot building clubs and school competitions, there are fortunately many events in various weight classes to spectate or enter:
Although Robot Wars has not had a new series commissioned, there are still televised robotic combat shows! BattleBots (USA), King of Bots (China), This is Fighting Robots (China) and Clash Bots (China) are among recent televised competitions. These are all hevyweight competitions and have all featured prominent UK roboteers.
Although I would love eventually to end up as a heavyweight competitor eventually, I have accepted that I need so start at a lower weight class. I love the idea of making robots of different types, some conventional and others quirky. I don't have the storage or the funds to do that with heavyweights so I am pretty keen to do what I can with beetleweights and featherweights. As someone who is not an engineer I will probably either start by working with a kit or building a simple axebot using easy to machine materials, such as wood or HDPE.