Let's Make Robots!

Robot Combat League

A new TV show, Robot Combat League starts on SiFi channel. 8:00PM Arizona time but check your local listings.

Only caught a brief teaser last night but it looks pretty good. I just hope it isn't just hollywood's idea of fighting robots that are nothing more than men with vacuume-formed plastic body parts attached. We'll see:-)

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My interview with one of the contestants, robotics engineer Annika O'Brien, is published on MAKE.

I watched the first episode thanks to the link provided by IG. I was thoroughly disapointed.

Although full radio control would have been nice I could apreciate that the steel frame holding the robot up and the hydraulic and control cables were necessary to cut cost. The real disapointments were:

Very slow movement. If the player moved too quick with left / right upper cuts then the robot arms could not match the speed and just did a little dance.

Under powered, these robots can barely scratch the paint on an opponent let alone damage it.

Very very fake. the sparks were not electrical sparks, they were from a special effect device. At one point I could see them coming from a tube, not wires.

I suspect that some of the panels are held on by electromagnets and can be dropped at any time to look like the robot was damaged. In the beginning one panel dropped off pre-maturely before the fight even began.

I suspect the so called repairs consist of replacing burned out spark tubes and topping up the fluids used for the fake smoke and hydraulic leaks.

I suspect that all people involved have had to sign a contract saying they won't spill the beans on this and will lie if neccessary to keep the money.


If someone can prove me wrong then please do.

I think you are being too critical. Yes, there are serious limitiations on the technology. Yes, a lot of things are done to make it look dramatic when a hit is taken. However, it is the first time someone has created a competition like this. Give it some time.

I'll have to re-watch the episode and try to see what you are talking about with the panel dropping off pre-maturely. 

I think the biggest problem is they seem to be using very slow hydraulics. I have built a machine using pneumatics before. They would be much better suited for the upper half of the body. They can move much quicker and absorb some impact as the air in the rams can compress.

The results would have been lighter, faster arms that would have made the fighting action far more impressive without doing serious damage to the robots.

Good point. This guy I know Tim Laursen builds robotic MIDI-driven robot drummers with pnuematic pistons. Some of them could really pack a punch. 

A combo of hydrolics for slow power and pnuematics for high speed would have been exciting to see.

I wanted to like it.  I told myself I would like.  I promised myself I would like it.  I hated it.

Its more like professional wrestling than it should be.  Everything is clearly faked.  Where do all the sparks come from?  And the smoke?  All the damage is apparently intentional, and the teams don't have anything close to a real roboticist on them.  What does a K list celebrity know about fixing a robot?

The biggest problem in my mind is that they are obviously not standing on their own.  Don't believe me, watch it again and seen their "feet" scoot across the floor.  They can't be pushed over, they don't have on board brains, they can't move more than a little bit from side to side. Its just rock'em sock'em robots.  There is no skill, no competition, and barely any real robotics. (animatronics, yes)



I have to say I'm really impressed by the design of these robots. But how much did it cost to get them all running? Not to mention that they will have to repair them constantly... I don't know about you guys, but I  don't think this is gonna last long.

I just keep thinking that in 10, 20+ years the robots of the future are going to look back at our behavior today and make humans pay... Stephen

I completely agree with your thinking Proto.

Love the show and the design of the bots. Now, the question is, who is going to make android remote controlled replicas?