The middleweight classes are  favored for their high action.

The middleweight classes are favored for their high action.

We’re only a couple months in, and 2015 has already been a good year for robot combat. Battle Bots is back, and RoboGames ran a successful competition this past weekend. Make: was on-site at the San Mateo (California) County Event Center to see contributor Zachary Lytle and many others compete in the ant-weight (one-pound) division. Lytle, who wound up taking home the gold, gave us some insight into the competition and what makes it special.

Lytle, also the founder of Bot Bash, which brings small combat robots to birthday parties and other events, has been a regular RoboGames competitor. He’s had enough success over the years that, in the final match of the weekend, his competitor had designed a robot specifically to target Lytle’s bot, The Bomb. Lytle showed that it’s about driver skill as well as bot design, sticking close to his competitor so the bot couldn’t get up to full speed, and winning in about 40 seconds.

RoboGames is about more than just combat, however. There are 54 events, including several based on humanoid robots. “The combat is what draws the crowd,” says David Calkins, RoboGames founder. Attendees, he points out, often wind up competing the next year. But it can be a big investment, especially if you’re building the larger robots. “It takes a lot of commitment to build something that you know is going to get destroyed, and yet you’re doing it for the love of that competitiveness,” says Calkins.

Calkins and RoboGames raised $40,000 last year on Kickstarter for the event, which has video of the matches available to backers, and featured Mythbuster Grant Imahara as host/commentator.