Inside the Art and Technology of Robot Combat League

Inside the Art and Technology of Robot Combat League

Mark Setrakian: Inside the Art & Technology of Robot Combat League from Maker Faire on

One of the things I was really looking forward to at Maker Faire Bay Area this year was hearing Mark Setrakian speak. As a kid I was a huge fan of the TV shows Robot Wars and Battle Bots, in which Mark competed. Not to mention all the cool animatronics and puppetry work he’s done in movies like Men in Black and Hellboy, two of my favorites.

Mark’s latest project was creating the giant fighting robots for the SyFy show, Robot Combat League. It was only after watching RCL that I realized who Mark was and that I had been unknowingly following his work for years. I was really looking forward to meeting him in person… but I missed his presentation at Maker Faire!

Luckily for me (and you), his presentation, Inside the Art and Technology of Robot Combat League, was recorded and is now available for playback. So sit back, relax, and watch as this master of robotic and movie magic tells you just how he developed the amazing robots from RCL.

Mark shares insights into:

  • His early car-inspired sketches for giant fighting robots
  • The first prototype, Hades, which he built to show SyFy executives just how cool the show could be
  • The innovative hydraulic system that powers all the actuators of the robots
  • How the robot jockeys control huge robots with their own bodies
  • Designing and modeling 12 unique robot chassis
  • Turning mock-ups and models into full steel fabrications

Mark also answers questions from the audience on the show’s pyrotechnics, repairing robots during the show, and what it felt like to build robots that cost as much as a Lamborghini just to have them destroy each other.

Check out the video above to see his whole presentation, and visit SyFy’s website for videos of fights, behind the scenes footage, episodes and recaps.

Robots Crash and Brimstone beating the heck out of each other
Robots Crash and Brimstone beating the heck out of each other

6 thoughts on “Inside the Art and Technology of Robot Combat League

  1. Idahoser says:

    it’s alright if you have to have a fix, I guess, but BattleBots was the only format that actually worked. They should bring that back.

    1. Andrew Terranova says:

      I really liked Battle Bots. RCL is a different animal, and definitely worth a try.

  2. Dave says:

    Really loved this talk, so informative and forthcoming. Building so many custom bots from scratch in such a short space of time was a remarkable achievement.

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Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and author of How Things Are Made: From Automobiles to Zippers. Andrew is also an electronics and robotics enthusiast and has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children's Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Enrichment in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.

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