Robotics Technology
BattleBots Is Back, But Fighting Robots Never Went Away

 

battlebots

BattleBots will be returning to television this summer, to the delight of all who have sorely missed the show for the past 12 years.

The six-episode reboot moves to ABC to get us back into the world of fighting robot mayhem. BattleBots originally aired from 2000-2005 on Comedy Central, bringing fame to a number of destructive robots and their builders. It also featured various celebrities including Bill Nye, Carmen Elektra, Sean Salisbury, Adam Savage, and Jamie Hynamen. The show was a nerd-paradise of all things destructive, functional, and educational. I believe this relaunch is a direct response to the rise in technology being reflected in mainstream culture, especially Hollywood: Big Hero 6, Iron Man, Chappie, and several others. We also can’t forget the obvious accessibility of tools and STEAM/STEM education in the Maker community, the rise of FIRST robotics, and beyond.

While we’re deeply excited for BattleBots to come back, the reality is that robot combat never really went away when it the Comedy Central series ended.

After the first era of BattleBots went off the air, it continued as a live event and via internet broadcasts. We’ve even been on the front lines of robot battles at Maker Faire. Last year we were lucky to have MIT hold their own Maker Faire with their own version of Robot Wars on the pint size. This was not the only Maker Faire to join in the fun last year and beyond.

The history of televised robot fights also includes Robot Wars, launched as a live event in San Francisco in 1994 and then a British TV show in 1998. Robot Wars was the influence for BattleBots, and continues today. Currently, over 30 countries are battling it out in various competitions. The Robot Wars UK tour is just about to begin with starting show, March 21st and 22nd in Newport. The tour continues on through November. That’s a whole lot of robot mayhem!

We can’t talk about fighting robots without talking about RoboGames (formerly RoboOlympics). RoboGames started in 2004 as a way to keep people interested in fighting as well as spreading the word and talent pool. The event runs like our human-based Olympics, and has been a great success all over the world. Even though the business operates on a tight budget, it continues to thrive and grow. The next metal crushing tournament to look forward to is on April 3-5th of this year in San Mateo, California, hosted by Grant Imahara. Grant has a rich history in all areas of robot fighting — you may know him by his robot, “Deadblow” if you don’t know him from his Mythbusting. This will be an exciting event you won’t want to miss.

For the less-commited robot fighter, there are a number of groups that also offer easy combat events you can try out for a few hours. Two we’re fond of, Bot Bash and Rolling Robots in northern and southern California, respectively, have arenas (or will bring one to you) with enough robots and controllers for you and your friends to go aggro. These packed events continues the thriving and much loved sport.

I tip my hat to those who have continued creating these awesome fighting machines and battling them all around the world. This movement has done nothing but grow since its final days on mainstream television. I can’t wait to see the advancement in technology and the diversity in the fighters.

And if you want to get started in robotics (either for fighting or for peaceful purposes), there are a lot of great kits Maker Shed . My personal favorite for learning and hacking is the Propeller bot.

Now get to making your own robot. See you in the Battle Box!

26 thoughts on “BattleBots Is Back, But Fighting Robots Never Went Away

  1. Hello,
    Isn’t funny that something like Robots could potential help a lot of people, that is degraded into a pure destructive mode. Says a lot about humanity.

        1. Like I say, it shows a lot about humanity. Obviously there are those who prefer destruction to making something creative
          and helpfull .Sad,really

          1. Fireworks are created for the sole purpose of being destroyed in an entertaining spectacle. Is that also sad?

          2. However, a firecracker can bring joy and smiles to a watching crowd. The device is not itself a living thing and its component materials bear no emotions towards the resultant scattering.

            Matter cannot be created or destroyed so all acts of creation are also acts of destruction, and visa versa. As two sides of the same coin, each cannot be inherently sad or noble. It is the direct effects on living beings that can be said to carry meaning.

          3. this is creative destruction. you are focusing on the wrong part and ignoring the fun and creativity being actively explored and built upon here. nothing gold can stay, ponyboy

    1. You know what else says a lot about humanity? That no matter what the subject matter is, if people are enjoying themselves, some negative, wannabe-altruist a-hole has to come and ruin it. I’m sure you could be helping a lot of people too, if you weren’t so busy leaving stupid comments about stuff. Take a look in the mirror.

  2. I like robot combat and creative destruction as much as the next guy, but the simple game set up of BattleBots leads to some variation of the same old spin, flip or bash approach. I think BattleBots would benefit by incorporating some of the things that make First so awesome- a new game/design challenge each season, autonomous periods, alliances/’coopertition’ and a bracket system.

  3. Son of whyoshi was a can of spinning death in the light weight decision of battle bots! Too bad He met his match by that top up spinner with the solid carbon bar. Biohazard vald the impailer and disector were all champion class bots Too tho Bio got wreaked in the final season!

  4. Battlebots was not on the air until 2005 like the article states, they did 7 tournaments, 2 a year. – first was live streamed on ZDTV, the second was Pay Per View in 1999. They did one in June and then in November every year. The November 2002 tournament was cancelled, with the June 2002 tournament being the last “comedy central” season.

  5. Good article but don’t forget that there is a world outside of California, one of my favorite places to visit. Robotbattles.com for example has been rolling and sparking since 1991. I’d like to invite you to the next DragonCon where we have about 2,000 people in attendance each year for the two days of battles. This year we’ll have two arenas going simultaneously!

  6. ABC right? I hate to burst everyone’s bubble but what that tells me is that the studio heads determined that the sets of Wipeout cost too much, so they should get even cheaper and simply film an event that goes on anyway. This will be their summer “re-run season” show and get thrown all over the schedule before it’s eventually dropped.

    I wish this weren’t the case, but I’m just warning everyone not to get their hopes up.

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Emily Coker is a "multipotentialite" who is passionate about empowering herself and others through hands-on learning and making. When not creating projects for the masses, she can be spotted tinkering around in her shop futzing with electronics, robotics and the latest in tech and craft. She currently works at Google X.

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