BattleBots: The Official Guide

Overview

The fully authorized guide to the world's most destructive sport-as seen on TV. Robotic combat has served to inspire countless movies, novels, comic books, and daydreams. In the last decade or so it has become a reality, thanks in large part to BattleBots, the world's most popular robot fighting tournament and one of the highest-rated shows on cable TV. From the first official BattleBots competition in 1999 to its current 4th successful season on Comedy Central, BattleBots has become an obsession for people of ...

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Overview

The fully authorized guide to the world's most destructive sport-as seen on TV. Robotic combat has served to inspire countless movies, novels, comic books, and daydreams. In the last decade or so it has become a reality, thanks in large part to BattleBots, the world's most popular robot fighting tournament and one of the highest-rated shows on cable TV. From the first official BattleBots competition in 1999 to its current 4th successful season on Comedy Central, BattleBots has become an obsession for people of all ages and from all walks of life.

Sure, some of the builders are what you'd expect-mechanical engineers and computer geeks-but just as many are artists, musicians, high school students, and retirees. This destructive sport puts athletes and couch potatos on equal ground. In BattleBots, an eleven-year-old girl can kick a grown man's ass. And the surprises don't stop there-wait until you see the bots. Beetle-shaped bots. Spider-like bots. Beautiful bots and ugly bots. Bots with turrets and arms and spikes and chainsaws. Bots on wheels and tracks and feet. Bots that spin, hop, punch, hammer and chop. Bots that can lift a car. Bots built by large teams in machine shops, and bots built by one guy working weekends in his garage.

So step inside, and view the metal-crunching demolition from the front lines with this behind-the-scenes guide to BattleBots-the hottest robot competition in the world and hit TV show on Comedy Central. Packed with full-color photographs, battle statistics, and exclusive profiles and interviews, this book gives you an inside look at the electrifying world of robot combat. Browse through photo-filled profiles of major BattleBots and get details on their weight, speed, weapon type, and what it took to build them. Read about the different robot types-including RamBots, SpinBots, ThwackBots, and Wedges. And, meet the people behind the crowd-pleasing, spark-flying destruction: BattleBots founders Trey Roski and Greg Munson; your favorite builders, including Carlo Bertocchini, Christian Carlberg, and Mark Setrakian; announcer Mark Beiro; and Pete the Mechanic, builder and operator of the famed BattleBox arena. You'll even get step-by-step instructions for building your own fierce fighting machine. As informative as it is entertaining, this book kicks BOT!

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
What does one get when one combines engineering ability, mechanical parts, excess testosterone, and a lot of free time? Battlebots! Appearing on TV's Comedy Central (the earlier Robot Wars appeared on both BBC and PBS stations), well-armed robots duke it out for supremacy in a hazard-filled arena dubbed the Battlebox. Robots have names like Atomic Wedgie, Hexadecimator, and Death by Monkeys, and some are armed with saws and hammers while others are wedge-shaped to flip their opponents. Much of this title is devoted to the history of the Battlebots show and to descriptions of robots and their design teams. A section for wannabes on robot construction includes brief information on batteries, radio controls, wheels, and more. While not an essential purchase, this is a very fun book with a potentially large audience because of TV exposure. It is sure to appeal to teens as well as adults (such as this reviewer) who have never grown up. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780072224252
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, The
  • Publication date: 5/1/2002
  • Series: Consumer Series
  • Pages: 227
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.76 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 2: THE SPORT

I think we all agree that robot combat is a good thing-it's fun, it's educational, it's wholesome family entertainment. But we can't have robots clashing willy-nilly in back alleys, engaging in furtive, catch-as-catch-can encounters. Nobody wants to see robots packing machine guns and incendiary grenades, roaming the streets and shopping malls, eating fire hydrants and launching magazine stands into the air. That's not a sport-that's anarchy!

Fighting robots crave structure. They need a safe place to play, and rules to play by. That's what the sport of BattleBots is here to give them. Locked within the bulletproof BattleBox, BattleBots can attack each other without endangering human lives or arousing the ire of the local constabulary. Playing by agreed-upon rules, they can resolve their differences fairly and openly, without any ugly squabbles about cheating or shouting matches over who actually beat whom.

BattleBots provides a safe environment for bot builders to get their ya-yas out. And BattleBots provides the important infrastructure that makes an activity into a sport: a place to fight, rules to fight by, a crowd to watch and cheer, an announcer to keep the crowd informed, judges to decide close bouts, trophies for the victorious, and fire extinguishers for the combustible.

Here's your chance to learn a little more about the sport of BattleBots: the rules of the game, the role of judges and CrewBots, and the construction of the deadly BattleBox arena. Read on.

A BattleBots Tournament

"A BattleBots Tournament," says the official BattleBots literature, "celebrates the sport of robotic combat through a contest of battling machines. Participants design, build, and control BattleBots to demonstrate their creativity, engineering skills, strategy, and driving ability." And that's all true. But a BattleBots tournament is about the people you meet as much as it's about the robots they build.

The people are the first thing you'll notice when you arrive at a BattleBots tournament. Geeks, nerds, engineers, rocket scientists, mad scientists, mad artists, and amateur mechanics. People pushing robots. People working on robots. People talking about robots. People with a penchant for destruction. People with a special gleam in their eye. People who all share a singular, wacky vision: a vision of building robots for the express purpose of taking other robots apart. In fact, if you're at a BattleBots tournament in the first place, they're people just like you.

"The best part of the competition for me is hanging out with everyone," says Rob Everhart of Team Half-Life. "The fighting is almost secondary. I just wish everyone didn't live so far away so we could hang out more than twice a year."

These people are the reason you go to a BattleBots competition, whether you're a competitor or a fan. Say hi to the builders. Meet them. Ask them about their robots. Make friends. It'll guarantee you a much better time at the competition, and if you end up going head-to-head with these guys in an upcoming battle, you might just be able to borrow a sledgehammer or some extra screws.

Check-in

Your first stop is at the check-in table, where you sign your team in. Your team can be as large or small as you like, but your Pit crew is limited to three (for a Lightweight) to five (for a Super Heavyweight), including yourself. You're allowed the same number of drivers-or operators-as crew members. For safety reasons, team members not part of the Pit crew are not allowed in the Pit, nor are children under eight, the family dog, the family snake, non-team friends and relatives that drop by to say hello, or anyone else without a Pit pass.

Once you've picked up your Pit passes, Pit table assignment, and other paperwork, it's time to unload the robot and head to your Pit table.

The Pit

The Pit area is where you'll get your BattleBot ready for battle, recharge your batteries, and make minor (and major) repairs between matches. The Pit at a BattleBots tournament has to be seen (and heard, and smelled) to really be appreciated. Imagine, if you will, the inside of a large warehouse, festooned with banners. Robots, whole and in pieces, cover ranks of work tables stretching nearly as far as the eye can see, along with spare robot parts, batteries, battery chargers, radios, electronics, electronic test equipment, candy bar wrappers, metal shavings, duct tape, giant sledgehammers, and other tools of the robotic combat trade. Hundreds of people of all descriptions fill the aisles, attending to their robots. Nearby are special areas for welding and grinding, and for robot testing.

The activity-and the manic enthusiasm of the participants-can be fairly overwhelming. In fact, with hundreds of Pit crews working on hundreds of robots, it's one of the busiest machine shops in the country for the duration of the tournament.

Hey, Friend, Can I Borrow That?

The best thing about the Pit is the people you'll find here. When BattleBox designer Pete Lambertson arrived at his first event at Long Beach in 1999, the thing that impressed him most was the atmosphere in the Pit. "Everybody in the Pit was helping each other," he says. "One guy didn't want to win because the next guy didn't have parts, so he'd help him get the robot ready to compete. It was a great feeling. Everybody seemed to be like a family. That was part of what sold me on the whole business."

"I've been involved in a lot of sporting events," says BattleBots announcer Mark Beiro, "but I've never seen [in any other sport] the kind of camaraderie that exists between BattleBots competitors. It's unrivalled. I've seen people lend parts to people they are going to compete against, so they can compete. That's how sick it is. I'd never seen anything like it."

Everyone in the Pit is quick to help out in your hour of need. They all want to see you compete… even if you end up beating them! "If I destroy somebody's robot with one of mine," say Jim Smentowski of Team Nightmare, "I'm there offering parts and helping to get them back into the arena."

If you forgot to bring a favorite tool, or suddenly need a tool you don't have, you can always count on someone helping out.

The Famous Mauler Hammer

One of the most oft-borrowed tools in the Pit is the notorious Mauler Hammer, an invention of General Knollenberg of the South Bay RoboWarriors, creators of Heavyweight BattleBot Mauler. The 15-pound monster hammer, much heavier than your average sledgehammer, is made from a solid block of steel welded to a steel bar. "It was originally created to knock loose a really big gear," says General Henry Tilford. "The forces involved in the robots are beyond normal hand tools. The Mauler Hammer is the right size to give you the kind of impact you need to bend robots back into shape." Veterans come to ask for it by name, says Tilford. "We also give it to any newbie trying to bend metal with a smaller hammer and getting nowhere. There are no metal presses in the Pit, so instead there is the Mauler Hammer."

For Your Own Protection

Once you're settled into the Pit and have completed those last minute adjustments and assembly, it's time for safety inspection and weigh-in. Expect to spend anywhere from

15 minutes to an hour going through the process.

The purpose of the safety inspection is to make sure that your robot conforms to all the technical regulations and is generally safe to be around… except in the arena, of course.

If your BattleBot spent all of its time locked safely inside the arena, there wouldn't be a need for many safety rules at all, other than those preventing robots with 30 gallons of gas onboard or radioactive armor (and yes, radioactive armor is forbidden).

But in fact BattleBots spend most of their time outside the arena, in the Pit, the testing area, or waiting in line for inspection or their next match. And most of the time they spend inside the arena, people are in there with them, moving them into place, getting them ready for the match, shutting them down after a match, and so forth.

Any time a person is in the proximity of a BattleBot, there's the potential for someone to get hurt. The man in charge of making sure that doesn't happen is BattleBots' chief safety/technical inspector, Frank Jenkins. "We want to make sure the robots are safe to be around," says Jenkins. "We hold people to a fairly high standard of construction engineering. We make sure that anyone building a BattleBot containing pressure bottles, for example, doesn't do things the wrong way."

Jenkins and his team of inspectors work hard to make BattleBots a safe sport, and to make sure that the robots' destructive potential is unleashed only within the locked BattleBox.

"BattleBots has had no serious accidents," says Jenkins, "but you're dealing with things that could kill somebody. I'm in robotics professionally. I like robots. The main reason I do this is that I do not want robots to hurt anybody."

(See the end of this chapter for a condensed safety inspection checklist.)

Safety Inspection

The first item on Jenkins' safety checklist? Safety covers to place over all your robot's sharp points, edges, and corners. These covers must be kept in place at all times, except when you're working on that particular part and, of course, in the BattleBox. "That may sound silly or trivial," says Jenkins, "but most of the accidents that we've had so far have been from things like someone backing into a sharp edge on a BattleBot."

The most common reason for a robot to fail its safety inspection? Failure of the radio transmitter failsafe test. For the test, the BattleBot is mounted on a box with its wheels (or whatever) in the air. With the drive running, the driver shuts off the transmitter. If for some reason your radio control system fails, or if you just turn off the transmitter, your BattleBot must immediately go into safe mode. This means all power must be cut to the drive and weapons systems, shutting the robot down.

"Fifteen to twenty percent of the time," says Jenkins, "they shut off the transmitter and the robot keeps running on. Or worse, something that wasn't running starts running. That's the single biggest item, but almost every item on the safety inspection checklist has been failed at one time or other."

The BattleBots technical regulations continue to change after every tournament. "When you're dealing with a technologically driven sport, especially such a young one," says Jenkins, "it's guaranteed that people are going to be trying things that are totally new, that no one's thought of before.

"On the one hand, you don't want to restrict creativity, but on the other hand, you've got to make sure that the BattleBots are safe when they're not in combat. There are some people that are amazingly… naïve is the nicest term I can come up with. They simply don't seem to be aware that their BattleBot can injure them or someone else."

Any time Jenkins or his team see anything they don't like, whether it's prohibited by the regulations or not, they can nix your robot. "If we determine that it's not safe, we won't let it run," he says. If that happens, you can either fix the problem to the safety inspector's satisfaction, or pack up your robot and go find a good seat to watch the rest of the tournament.

Waiting to Go On

As your match time approaches, you are escorted from the Pit to the queuing area and, finally, to the pre-match staging area just outside the arena, called the Battle Box. Now the adrenaline really starts pumping, and, to make matters worse, TV crews are pointing cameras at you and doing pre-match interviews. Finally, it's time to enter the arena.

The tournament officials responsible for escorting you and your BattleBot into and out of the arena, before and after the match, are dubbed CrewBots. The CrewBots supervise Pit crew members in activating and deactivating the robots. They lock the box before the match begins, and they're the only ones who can unlock it again when the match is over. If something happens that necessitates stopping the match-a bot bursting into flame, perhaps, or two bots getting stuck together-it is the fearless CrewBots who charge in with fire extinguishers and pry bars to set the situation right again.

Your CrewBots usher you to your place in the arena, and they supervise while you take the covers and restraints off all your robot's pointy, grabby bits. The ring announcer enters and announces the robots. The crowd cheers (and boos). Then it's time to activate your robot, cross your fingers, and head to your driving platform, outside the BattleBox.

It's robot fighting time!

The Bout

A bout is a match between two BattleBots (although either or both of the BattleBots could be a MultiBot, a BattleBot composed of multiple, separate robots or "segments"). In many ways, a bout is similar to a boxing match. Two competitors start at opposite sides of the arena. When the starting buzzer sounds, they have at each other for three minutes or until one of the robots is knocked out.

Two eight-foot by eight-foot squares are painted on opposite sides of the BattleBox floor, one red and one blue. Red and blue sides are assigned at random. There is no particular advantage or disadvantage to either side.

Each robot starts the match on its own colored square. Your robot must fit entirely within its square at the start of the bout, although once the bout begins it can unfurl into a larger configuration or split into separate components.

Your BattleBot must remain motionless until the match starts. Engines, motors, pumps, and so forth can be running-at idle-but there can be no weapon movement and no movement up, down, or across the arena floor. If either robot does move prematurely, a referee will declare a fault and the match must be restarted. Three faults will cost you the match.

There are two referees, one for each team. Once the BattleBox is cleared and locked, the referee will make certain that you are ready to begin the match, and then press a button that activates half of the countdown switch. When both buttons have been pressed, a three-second countdown begins, visible on the light-tree. When the green light comes on, a buzzer sounds and the match is underway.

Does This Look Incapacitated to You?

To continue the bout, a BattleBot must be capable of controlled "translational movement." In other words, the driver must be able to move the BattleBot around on the arena floor, at least a little bit. Weapon movement doesn't count: a saw blade might still be spinning, for example, but if the robot can't move from place to place, it's out of the fight.

A robot that can't move for 30 seconds is considered incapacitated. This includes robots stuck on some part of the arena-jammed up on the spike strips, for instance. If a referee suspects that your BattleBot is incapacitated, he or she will ask you to prove that it can still move. If you're unable to move, the referee begins a 30-second count, the last 10 seconds of which are verbally counted down. If the count reaches zero before your robot moves, you lose. If your robot moves at any point during the countdown, the countdown stops and the match continues.

You can, at any time, "tap out," voluntarily ending the bout and taking a loss. If your robot is stuck under the Pulverizer, for instance, you might prefer to tap out rather than incur 30 more seconds of vicious pounding, and the damage that will result, before the referee counts you out.

Stuck on Each Other

Your robot is allowed to grab opponents, to lift them (in whole or in part) off the arena floor, and to pin them against the wall-but only for 30 seconds at a time. By the end of that 30 seconds, you must release your opponent… if you can. Failure to release the other robot voluntarily will get you disqualified and cost you the match.

At times, however, robots get hung up on each other-my sword jammed in your tank treads, maybe-and are unable to separate again. If this happens, the referees declare a timeout. The robots are deactivated, the BattleBox is unlocked, and CrewBots and Pit crews enter the box, armed with crowbars or other appropriate tools of the trade, to pry the combatants apart. When the robots have been separated, and the arena is cleared and locked again, and the bout resumes where it left off. The timer is not reset.

Technically, I Knocked You Out

If your opponent's BattleBot becomes incapacitated (incapable of moving around the arena) while yours can till move, you win. Congratulations!

If your robot personally incapacitated its opponent, or at least had a hand in it, it scores a knockout (KO). You needn't have destroyed an opponent with your weapon to score a knockout; you might have delivered it to a Pulverizer or the Kill Saws. Or just slammed into it hard enough to jar something loose.

If your opponent takes itself out of action without any help whatsoever from you, it's still a win, but it's scored as a technical knockout (TKO). Both KOs and TKOs earn your bot two points.

If both robots become incapacitated before the end of the bout, the win is awarded to whichever robot was the last one moving.

The Judgment and Verdict

If the bout goes the entire three minutes without either bot being incapacitated, the outcome is decided by a panel of three judges seated at arena side. Judges score each match in three categories: aggression, damage, and strategy.

Aggression is a measure of how often you attacked your opponent, how boldly, and how severely.

Damage is just what it sounds like: how much damage you inflicted on your opponent, either directly with your robot or weapons, or indirectly with the arena hazards. A weaponless robot that successfully and consistently pushes its opponents under the Pulverizers can outscore robots with ferocious weapons.

Strategy measures how successfully you carry out a game plan that exploits your robot's strengths against your opponent's weaknesses, while protecting your robot's weaknesses against your opponent's strengths. (Note: Running away does not count as a strategy.)

Each judge divides a total of 5 points between the two BattleBots in each category. A hypothetical perfect score, then, would be 45 points: 5 points in each of the three categories, from each of the three judges. Note that, since 45 does not divide evenly by 2, there can never be a tie in the judges' decision.

Of course, all the strategy and aggression in the world won't do you any good if your robot breaks before the three-minute bout is over.

CompuBot

In addition to the judges' scores, BattleBots generates a CompuBot score for each bout. CompuBot statistics include hits, flips, pins, escapes, weapons damage, and hazard damage. Like the CompuBox system in boxing, which records statistics such as uppercuts and body blows, CompuBot is primarily for fun. The results are unofficial; CompuBot is completely separate from the criteria used in the official judging, and the judges never see the CompuBot statistics until after the bout. Comedy Central generally shows parts of the CompuBot statistics at the end of any bout that goes to a judge's decision.

A Rumble in the Arena

BattleBots tournaments feature a second type of match called the Robot Rumble. The rules of the Rumble are similar to the rules of the standard bout, with a few exceptions.

In a Rumble, up to 18 robots compete to be the last bot standing. As there are only two colored squares, at the beginning of the Rumble, combatants are spread evenly around the outside of the BattleBox. Rumbles are longer than bouts, lasting five minutes rather than three. You cannot tap-out in a Rumble, and Rumbles are not stopped if robots become stuck together.

There are two Rumbles for each weight class: the Main Rumble and the Consolation Rumble. The Main Rumble is for the top 16 of the 32 finalists in each weight class. The Consolation Rumble is for the bottom 16. The Consolation Rumble is held first, and up to two winners from the Consolation Rumble are also eligible to compete in the Main Rumble.

The winner of a Rumble is determined in the same way as the winner of a bout. If only one robot is still moving at the end of the five-minute match, it wins. If more than one robot is still responsive, the winner is determined by a judge's decision.

Single Elimination

BattleBots competitions are single-elimination tournaments: the first time you lose a match, your robot is out of the competition. As long as you keep winning matches, you keep moving up to the next round. The exact number of rounds varies from weight class to weight class, and from competition to competition, depending on the number of robots competing. But build your bot strong-it will have to survive six or more punishing matches, against increasingly powerful foes, if you plan to take home the coveted Giant Nut.

The BattleBox

All BattleBots bouts take place within a completely enclosed arena called the BattleBox. The number one job of the BattleBox is to contain the robots and any bits that may come flying off them during a match. To that end, the arena floor is made from quarter-inch thick steel, and the walls and ceiling are made of bullet-proof Lexan.

Modular Design

The BattleBox is modular; everything breaks down into four-foot by four-foot sections, which are easy to pack and ship. The BattleBox's 2300-square-foot steel floor is actually an assembly of those sections, each of which stands two feet high on steel tube framing. The flooring modules bolt and clip together into one solid unit. The BattleBots arena, as seen on TV, consists of 144 floor modules arrayed in a 12 by 12 square (48 feet by 48 feet). But it can be assembled in other sizes and configurations. When the BattleBox appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, for example, it came in its handy compact traveling size of six by six modules. The floor weapons are also built into interchangeable four-foot-square modules. This means the configuration of the arena-the number and placement of weapons and hazards-can vary.

Lexan walls drop into channels, or "ears," in the outermost flooring modules. The walls (also modular) vary in thickness by sections, from an inch thick at the bottom to a quarter inch thick at the top, and reach a height of 16 feet above the arena floor.

The original BattleBox had a sheet of flexible plastic across the top to stop any stray bot parts flying that high. But stronger, more destructive robots, especially vertical SpinBots such as Nightmare, forced BattleBots to add a quarter-inch Lexan lid to the arena in 2001.

The Weapons

The original BattleBox had two saws and two spike units in the floor. Well-known BattleBots builder Christian Carlberg built those first weapons. Today the BattleBox is bristling with hazards: saws, spinning turntables, pistons, spikes, heavy pneumatic sledgehammers, and whatever BattleBox designer and operator Pete Lambertson thinks of next.

It's important to note, for those planning on using the arena hazards extensively, that the hazards don't come into play until the final rounds of a tournament; the early rounds take place without them. Even in the later rounds, insists Lambertson, the purpose of the arena hazards isn't to destroy the robots. The hazards are there "to make it more exciting," he says. "Some of the early rounds without the hazards can get a little dull when it's just two boxes pushing each other around, like bumper cars."

Take the Kill Saws, for example. They wield four sets of 20-inch, carbide-tipped, SystiMatic saw blades, spun by a powerful 5 HP electric motor. "But we don't actually want to cut the robots," says Lambertson. "We want to throw them. I worked with SystiMatic and they helped me figure out which blades to use to get the effect that we wanted. The Kill Saws use three saw blades now, sandwiched together. They will cut the robot just a little and throw it at the same time. It's more exciting."

The Pulverizers have evolved from store-bought sledgehammers with plastic handles to super-tough, custom-made stainless steel monsters with 35-pound heads, but those heads are hollow. Again, says Lambertson, the Pulverizer isn't intended to destroy robots. "But we will put dents in them!" he says. "If we really wanted to smash the robots, we'd go with a solid hammer head."

The Pulverizers are driven by pneumatics, as are most of the arena's weapons. Everything is run from Lambertson's big control board at arena side.

Rearranging the Arena

Thanks to its modular design, the floor of the arena can and does vary from tournament to tournament. Although the size remains the same, weapons are always being added, subtracted, modified, or moved to new positions. "We're always trying to create something new," says Lambertson, "so you don't see exactly the same thing every time. It keeps all the robot builders on their toes, too, because they don't know what I'm going to come up with next."

For Season 4.0 in November 2001, for example, the number of hazards was reduced. "We wanted to give the robots a little more open space in the middle of the arena," says Lambertson.

Some hazards have disappeared from the arena altogether, such as ramps that popped out of the floor. "The ramps were put in originally for the robots to jump over," says Lambertson. But no one used them for that, and the ramps served mainly to tip robots over. The ramps are gone, at least for now.

"It's a process of creating as we go along to make things more exciting for the audience," says Lambertson.

Safety/Technical

Inspection Checklist
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
This is a condensed version of the Safety/Technical Inspection Checklist from the BattleBots Tournament Rules & Procedures. For a complete, up-to-date checklist, download the Tournament Rules & Procedures from the BattleBots Web site.

External Inspection
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
All sharp points, edges, and corners have safety covers.

All pinch and motion hazards (such as jaws) are restrained.

General Internal Inspection
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Master switches comply with the technical regulations.

All batteries are of the proper type and securely mounted.

Wiring is properly installed, and electrical terminals are covered and insulated.

Pneumatics
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
All components are properly rated and tested, and properly secured.

The system is properly designed and constructed.

The system has all appropriate pressure-reliefs, and shut-off and purge valves.

Inspector observes the pressurization procedure and the condition of filling tanks and hardware.

When completely filled, all pressures are within limits.

Hydraulic Systems
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
All hydraulic components are properly rated and securely mounted.

All hoses are properly supported.

The system has appropriate pressure reliefs.

Hydraulic fluid won't spill out if the BattleBot is flipped upside-down.

The Weigh-in
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All tanks are full and pressurized, all fuel is onboard, and the BattleBot is in battle-ready condition.

Weight from the official scale is recorded.

If your robot has multiple weapons, it must be reweighed in each configuration.

MultiBot segments are weighed separately. (A MultiBot is considered disabled if 50 percent of the bot, by weight, is disabled.)

Radio
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Frequencies are legal.

Entrant has at least two sets of crystals.

Any custom equipment is FCC compliant.

Activation/Deactivation
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The robot can be completely activated in 60 seconds.

All critical deactivation steps (such as weapon shutdown) can be performed within 30 seconds.

All final deactivation steps can be performed within

30 seconds.

Transmitter Turn-on/Turn-off Safety
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The robot does not move when the transmitter is turned on.

The robot does not move when the master switch is turned on.

The operator can reliably control motion of wheels, tracks, legs, and so on.

When the transmitter is turned off, drive power to motion systems and weapon systems must stop immediately. (This is the test new BattleBots most often fail.)

Internal Combustion Engines
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The fuel tank capacity doesn't exceed the maximum.

Fuel tank is securely mounted.

Throttle-return springs are properly designed and mounted.

Fuel lines are properly installed.

Fuel will not continuously spill if BattleBot is flipped upside-down.

Engine starts in 30 seconds and goes immediately to idle speed.

Engine returns to idle speed, or shuts off, if transmitter is turned off.

Weapons
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All weapons must be of a type allowed by technical regulations.

Any projectile tethers do not exceed length limits.

Operator can control all weapons.

Deactivated weapons pose no threat to people near the BattleBot.

Pit Area Rules
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No children under 8 years old.

Children under 12 must be with adults.

No pets are allowed.

No smoking, drinking, drugs, or unruly behavior.

No scooters, bicycles, or skates.

All BattleBots must be supported for runaway protection.

All safety covers and restraints must be installed.

No pressurized air or CO2 refill tanks.

No flammable liquids.

BattleBot pressure tanks must not be left loose.

Pneumatic/hydraulic systems must be unpressurized.

No welding or grinding outside the designated area.

No fueling of BattleBots outside the designated area.

No BattleBot testing outside the designated area.

Ranking Points
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Points are awarded for every win in a BattleBots tournament, except for the Consolation Rumble. If you win, you'll receive the following:

Two points for each win in any single-elimination tournament match.

One point for each loser's bracket win in any double-elimination match. (Note: BattleBots competitions are currently all single-elimination tournaments.)

One point for each win caused by opponent forfeit.

Two points for each Main Rumble win.

Two points for each tournament win.

One point for the tournament runner-up.

You'll also get a nifty win pog!

The more points your BattleBot wins, the higher its ranking. The robot with the most points in its weight class is the #1 ranked BattleBot in that class.

This robot is not necessarily the current champion, however. BattleBots uses an active seeding system; the win percentage earned for the last three tournaments is used to determine your current active seeding. BattleBots keeps historical records, which can be found at the end of this book. BattleBots also tracks such stats as knockouts, average knockout time, and total judges' points. These stats come into play if there's a tie in points between two robots.

Weight Class Designation
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

More Than / Maximum
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Lightweight 25.0 lbs. 60.0 lbs.

Middleweight 60.0 lbs. 120.0 lbs.

Heavyweight 120.0 lbs. 220.0 lbs.

Super Heavyweight 220.0 lbs. 340.0 lbs.

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Table of Contents

PART I: The History of Robots and Robotic Competition

Introduction

Ch. 1: The History of Robots and Robotic Combat

Ch. 2: The History of the BattleBots Organization

Ch. 3: The Famous Builders

PART II: The Arena and the Robots

Ch. 4: The BattleBox and the Pit

Ch. 5: Robot Types

Ch. 6: The Robots Themselves

PART III: Build Your Own BattleBot

Ch. 7: Building a basic BattleBot

Appendix: BattleStats

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First Chapter

CHAPTER 1: THE HISTORY OF BATTLEBOTS

Greg and Trey's Excellent Adventure

BattleBots cofounders and cousins Greg Munson and Trey Roski never intended to start their own robotic combat sports event, but, in retrospect, their moms can't be too surprised. The two didn't have brothers, so at family get-togethers their moms would thrust them together. The pair managed to get into plenty of trouble, despite the fact that they grew up apart (Munson grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area; Roski grew up in North Hollywood, just down the street from Universal Studios, close enough to hear explosions and car crashes happening daily on the lot). "Growing up," recalls Munson, "Trey and I and our cousin Garner Moss were called the Terrible Trio. We'd always have little destructive, high-tech projects going with remote control cars and airplanes."

Munson also exercised his creative/destructive impulses with Redwood High School friends Mark Setrakian and Peter Abrahamson, who would later become household names among BattleBots fans. "We'd be blowing something up this weekend, building a model the next weekend, making music the weekend after that. We had a band. We'd hang out at each other's houses and watch monster movies."

Setrakian and Abrahamson eventually went on to work in the special effects industry, helping to create monster movies. Setrakian met Marc Thorpe at George Lucas's Industrial Light + Magic and, in 1993, Thorpe told Setrakian about this great idea he had for a fighting robot competition, which he called Robot Wars.

Building Their Own

Thorpe asked Setrakian to build a combat robot for an upcoming competition. Happy to oblige, Setrakian built a combat robot called The Master, and in 1994 he invited Greg Munson to come to San Francisco to watch The Master compete. "I thought it was great," says Munson. A phone conversation with high school buddy Peter Abrahamson planted the seed for a combat robot of his own.

And then one night, while taking out the garbage, Munson bumped into downstairs neighbor Gage Cauchois. "I told Gage that I was thinking about building a robot. Gage was interested. He said, 'Let's do it together.'

"I immediately thought of Trey," says Munson. "Trey has great hand-eye coordination skills … this amazing ability to pilot anything." Munson showed cousin Trey Roski a videotape of Robot Wars and asked him to come onboard. "It was bitchin'!" says Roski. "I said,

'Let's do it!'"

La Machine

The three formed a team, pulled together $600, and set to work creating their robot, La Machine. "Gage did most of the building," says Roski, "but we all put in ideas that made the robot what it was. We built a base that was powered by these funky motors that are used to start remote control boats. It didn't even have a speed controller. We built our own speed controller, but it was really just on and off switches.

"We didn't have much money left, and we were trying to figure out what to do for a weapon," says Roski. "We finally said, hell, let's make a wedge." La Machine is infamous as the very first Wedge in robot competition.

La Machine received a cold reception at the 1995 competition. "We showed up with our Wedge, riveted together out of aircraft aluminum," says Munson, "and people laughed at us. Everybody laughed at us. They made fun of our rivets."

David versus Goliath

"We were right beside a team from U.C. Berkeley," recalls Roski. "They had this very expensive, very sophisticated robot, with five chainsaw motors on it. They looked at La Machine and said, 'What does it do? What's the weapon?' But when they went up against us, we destroyed them. That felt real good."

"We were the joke of the event until we started winning," says Munson. "And not only would we win, we'd win in 15 seconds. La Machine was fast, maneuverable, and had a lot of torque. And it really held together well. We hit on the right combination on the first try, and that's a testament to Gage's engineering skills. We were able to get under everybody, throw them off into the side of the arena, and flip them over. And La Machine was a different breed because Trey was driving it. He had this bravado, this finesse and style. It was very exciting to the audience. They loved our robot."

La Machine won its Middleweight weight class and the Middleweight melee. As the Heavyweight melee was about to begin, Roski remembers, the crowd started chanting, "La Machine … La Machine … La Machine." Roski says, "Marc Thorpe came up to me and said, 'Do you want to do it? You're gonna get wasted by these heavier robots.' But I said, 'F*@! yeah. We built it to fight! Let's fight!' So we threw it in there, and we beat the crap out of everyone. I did a victory spin, and the crowd just lost it. I was hooked. There's no way I couldn't have been."

Promoting the Sport

"The next stage," says Roski, "was to figure out what we could do to help the sport." Roski helped Marc Thorpe out wherever he could, organizing events, making videos, and spreading the word. He and Munson helped Thorpe make an event tape of the 1995 Robot Wars competition and participated in other promotional schemes.

"We made a fun little promotional tape," recalls Munson. "We took La Machine out on the street and, without having it move, asked people what they thought it was. 'Oh, it looks like that thing you put under an airplane's wheels.' Cut. We show La Machine going under an airplane. 'It looks kind of like a skateboard ramp.' Cut. Guys are jumping over it on skateboards. We convinced the Bay Bridge to open up one of the toll gates for La Machine to drive through. We filmed Marc Thorpe parading around San Francisco with La Machine on a leash."

Munson and Roski also began to appear on TV. "People would hear about the competition and contact Marc Thorpe or the press people," says Munson. "They had a handful of contacts that they sent the media to, and Trey and I were among them.

"We did everything from local morning shows all the way to the national evening news. A couple of British TV shows even came over and interviewed us. We had always sort of fancied ourselves amateur filmmakers, so the fact that we were on TV was tremendous fun for us."

Miniature Rock Stars

Soon they began to travel abroad to promote the sport. "Marc Thorpe's company was contacted by a British production house that wanted to do a pilot for the British version of Robot Wars. There were no British robots, so they flew over a bunch of American robots. It was La Machine, The Master, and Thor. We went over and fought against each other, some prototype British robots, and a French robot. At one point they wanted us to play robot soccer, and La Machine took all the other robots and pushed them into the soccer net."

Munson, Roski, and Scott LaValley, builder of DooAll, even toured Germany on a promotional tour sponsored by Marlboro cigarettes, bringing combat robots to German rave parties. "Everyone would dance until about three in the morning," says Munson. "Then we would go on, and all the glassy-eyed ravers would stand there and stare at these dangerous-looking attack robots as they pushed floaty, billowy weather balloons back and forth. Then we'd do a mock battle at the end. It was a combination of performance art and ass kicking. It was very surreal." They did eleven shows, touring Germany by bus with two DJs and a synth band. "We were in the spotlight of this strange subculture, and we loved it," says Munson. "We felt like miniature rock stars."

The Rumble Under the Freeway

By 1997, robot combat was becoming embroiled in legal battles. Robot Wars 1998 was cancelled. "There was no outlet for all the builders who had latched on to the sport of robot combat," says Munson, "and everybody wanted to fight."

That "everybody" included father and son team Lowell and Steve Nelson. The Nelsons had built their first robot, S.L.A.M., in 1998 for a competition that never took place. "We were beyond bummed," says Steve Nelson. "We were pissed. We wanted to fight.

"We learned that Jim Smentowski was going to disassemble his heavyweight robot, Hercules, because he was going to give up on the sport. My dad told him, 'You want to take it apart? We'll help you take it apart.' Jim agreed, and we drove [200 miles] from Quincy, California, to Novato, California, so we could kill it for him. There were torrential rains coming down the mountains and washing out the roads. It was a pretty interesting drive."

Smentowski contacted several other area builders, including Roski and Munson, who showed up with La Machine, as well as their new robot, Ginsu. "It was pretty scary watching that thing run the first time," remembers Steve Nelson.

Scott LaValley brought DooAll to the battle, and Steven Felk, who had never competed before, came with his new robot, Voltarc. Smentowski brought his Middleweight robot, Junior. Ironically, Hercules, the robot that started it all, caught fire the night before and was unable to attend. The combatants met at LaValley's house, and then made their way to a freeway overpass where they staged their own fight.

Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to promote the sport, Munson and Roski alerted the news media to their little "underground competition," and a crew from KPIX TV in San Francisco showed up to film the fights.

Should We Go for It?

"At that point," says Munson, "Trey and I were wondering: should we go for it? Should we pick up the torch and create another competition? Trey was passionate, and he knew that if anyone could do it, he could."

Robot combat was mired in lawsuits, but Roski also had access to resources that none of the other robot enthusiasts could muster.

But creating BattleBots was the last thing Roski wanted to do. "I never wanted to run the competition," he says. "I'm a competitor. I wanted to compete. I can't compete anymore.

"But nobody else was doing it, and I had the feeling that nobody else was going to do it right. It had to be done right. People thought I was nuts-my dad still thinks I'm nuts-but I found a partner, got the money, and we all came up with the name BattleBots."

Of course they couldn't hold all their competitions under freeway overpasses. They needed an arena. Enter Pete Lambertson.

Pete Lambertson Creates the Arena

Munson and Roski met Pete Lambertson when they were competing in Robot Wars. They bought La Machine from Gage Cauchois. Munson says, "Once La Machine did so well, Gage instantly wanted to do something new. He wanted to build Vlad the Impaler. He was driven by it. He was not interested in La Machine any more.

"But we were still interested, and we took La Machine through various incarnations. The second incarnation had a flipper arm, which died in its first match. For the third, Scott LaValley helped us put a pneumatic battering ram on the top of it. The wedge evolved from a flat plane to a scoop. But we couldn't make the scoop in a garage; you need to have industrial bending machines. That's when Trey tracked down Pete."

"I found this place in San Francisco called Standard Sheet Metal," says Roski. "I brought the robot in there and they introduced me to the 'old guy' in the back, the genius engineer, Pete. I instantly fell in love with Pete.

"When we decided we were going to do our own competition, I heard Pete had retired. I called him and said, 'Pete, we need you.' Pete became the arena guy. That's his full-time job, and will be forever."

The arena, dubbed the BattleBoxTM, had to look good and provide good visibility for the spectators, but more than that, it had to be safe. "We're very concerned with safety," says Roski. "It cost us tons of money to build the BattleBox, but it's safe, and it's getting stronger every year."

The BattleBox was made modular, with 4-foot square floor sections, so it could be assembled in different sizes and configurations. It was built on a raised platform so that weapons and hazards-saws, ramps, and other niceties-could be built under the floor.

"It did a great job," says Roski. "It looked good, and it kept the robots in."

BattleBots at the Pyramid

The first BattleBots competition was held on August 14 and 15, 1999, at the famous Pyramid at Long Beach State University, Roski's alma mater. "In terms of the sport and the builders, it was a huge success," says Munson. "We had about 60 robots show up. All the people who hadn't been able to fight for years now had a chance to try out the bots they'd been working on. They loved it."

A college friend and independent video producer named John Remar videotaped the event, and Munson and Roski had a 45-minute video edited together. It gave them another tool to use in promoting the sport to investors, television networks, and potential competitors.

The computer-oriented cable channel ZDTV (now TechTV) conducted a live webcast from the event. "The cybercast was very successful," says Munson, "but the audience turnout was less than grand. Most of the spectators were contestant friends and family. I guess in those early days some people just didn't get the concept."

TalentWorks

"A good thing that did happen at the Long Beach event," says Munson, "is that we met the people at TalentWorks, and they took us under their wing." TalentWorks, based in New York City, is a TV production company specializing in sporting events. "They're good people and should be credited with much of our success."

TalentWorks helped guide BattleBots through the Byzantine workings of the TV industry. They handle the sports television coverage of the show and are partners with BattleBots in producing it.

"Before TalentWorks," says Munson, "we were being courted by a talent agency who brought us to networks that wanted to change our format, to make it more like a game show or a scripted drama like wrestling. And we were not going to do that at all. We knew it should be positioned like a real sport, and Lenny [Stucker, of TalentWorks] was behind the true sports format. He only considered offers from serious networks that wanted to keep it a sports entity."

"Shortly after the Long Beach show," says Munson, "TalentWorks hooked us up with iN DEMAND pay-per-view, and we planned a pay-per-view event for November 1999."

One new element TalentWorks introduced for the pay-per-view event was a new announcer. "For the Long Beach event," says Roski, "we had this guy from the American Gladiators, Lee Reherman, doing the announcing. He was funny, but we gave him too much leeway. His adlibbing was a little over-the-top."

TalentWorks hired famed ring announcer Mark Beiro to announce the pay-per-view competition. "When Mark Beiro walked in," says Roski, "he didn't know what the hell we were doing. He had this confused look on his face, like 'They're filming robots fighting-what am I doing here?' But after about five matches you could see the change come over him. He started to really get into it.

Mark seemed to put everything in perspective. You could tell he was a keeper."

BattleBots on TV

The second BattleBots competition, filmed for pay-per-view, was held in Las Vegas on November 17, 1999. Along with its new announcer, BattleBots premiered the new Super Heavyweight class. Overall, Roski and Munson were happy with the results. "It was a real, straight-up sports cast, just like we wanted," says Munson. "It went on the air the day before the Super Bowl. But no one watched the damned thing.

"TalentWorks continued taking us around to different television networks," says Munson. "Eventually it was down to ZDTV, now called TechTV, and Comedy Central. We liked ZDTV. They're technology driven. Their attitude toward the sport is ideal. But Comedy Central is basic cable. That means 60-70 million eyeballs. Therein lies the decision."

BattleBots signed a deal with Comedy Central to air the competitions. "We told them that they could have fun with the sport, but they absolutely couldn't make fun of the builders. They assured us that they were not going to make the thing stupid or silly. They were going to make the builders heroes, and at the same time show the world the quirky interesting things they do.

"Season 1.0 of BattleBots was one of the highest rated premieres in their history," says Munson. "Sure, we've had our concerns with some of the things [Comedy Central] does. We're trying to get them to show more of the tournament ladder and more of The Pit. We want to make the show a little more technical. But the bottom line is that the show is great. We're one of the highest rated shows on the network, and we're really happy that the sport has taken off so well."

A Growing Sport

The Comedy Central TV show has helped generate a huge groundswell of interest in the sport, and the number of robots and spectators has swollen drastically since the show began to air. "The sport has gotten so big that we've got to split it up into regional competitions," says Munson. "In Season 4.0, we had 400 robots. For Season 5.0, it could be 800 robots. People have to take two weeks off work and fly out to California to compete. That's a lot to ask of someone. We'd rather bring the show as close as we can to them and have fewer people there. That'll give more people more opportunities to enjoy the sport."

And it is a sport, Munson and Roski insist. "Comedy Central may put a funny spin on the show," says Munson, "but the bottom line is that BattleBots is a straight-up sport."

"BattleBots is true," says Roski. "It's real. There's nothing set up. There's nothing fake. Anyone who shows up with a legal robot that passes the safety inspection can compete, and everyone competes on equal terms.

"It's a boxing match with robots. It's you controlling a robot for a fight to the death where no one gets hurt. There's no way anyone's going to die. You're going to get all your adrenaline [going], but with BattleBots there's no guilt. Is it okay if you wish for that robot to be destroyed? Yes! Wish it! There are no people suffering. The guy whose robot is on fire is smiling and laughing."

Show Me the Money

For BattleBots to continue to evolve as a real sport, Roski and Munson believe it is essential that the competitors be compensated. "The competitors have to be paid," says Roski. "We allow sponsorships. Competitors share TV revenue. They get merchandising [benefits]-some of them are going to make a lot of money this year. The guys are putting the money back into their robots, and that makes BattleBots that much better."

But what about the little guy? The garage tinkerer? The retired machinist with a limited budget? Will he still be able to compete in an arena populated by $100,000 BattleBots?

"La Machine cost $600," says Roski. "We beat robots that cost $20,000. Anything can go wrong. A mount can break. A battery can fall off. The greatest thing in the world is when NASA comes in with a robot and they lose to a 14-year-old girl."

BattleBots IQ

"The thing we're most excited about now," says Munson, "is BattleBots IQ." BattleBots IQ is a comprehensive educational program where students learn about the science of engineering through robot building.

"When Trey and I built La Machine with Gage," says Munson, "we had to learn so much. It was not only pulling out the stuff we learned in high school-the algebra and the physics-but budgeting our time and money, promoting ourselves, working together as a team.

"You take a thing that's just an idea in your head and make it into a real, working robot that you can go out and fight against someone elses. Maybe you win and maybe you lose, but that process of creating and building is so valuable, it will empower you in other areas of your life and be an experience that you will treasure for a lifetime.

"And it occurred to us," Munson says, "what a great thing to teach to high school students. First of all, they can apply all the math and physics and science, but they also get to learn the skills that wind up being more important: dealing with people, promoting yourself, budgeting your resources. It gives them a practical venue to apply what they're learning in school, and it promotes the sport to a young audience. Our motto is 'Mom, BattleBots, and apple pie.'"

"Once you've put something together, you can never forget it," says Roski. "What you learn is so much greater that what you could ever lose in competing."

"The goal of BattleBots IQ," says Munson, "is to implement a curriculum that encourages advanced achievement in science and engineering, in a format that captures the imagination of students worldwide, and then to get the thing on TV."

Currently, 17 pilot schools are teaching the BattleBots IQ curriculum, developed by Plymouth, Massachusetts, high school teacher and robot enthusiast Mike Bastoni. Bastoni has been teaching robotics in the classroom for years.

Nola Garcia (of Team Fembot and Team Loki) is in charge of the BattleBots IQ program. Garcia and Bastoni have both participated in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competitions with their high school classes. Although they remain big supporters of FIRST, they knew they wanted BattleBots IQ to be different in some fundamental ways.

"In FIRST," says Garcia, "they change the game every year. Every year you have to build a new robot." With BattleBots IQ, teams can enter the same robot, year after year, maintaining it, repairing it, upgrading it, reengineering it, and learning all the skills that go with those activities. To encourange the building of new robots, any robot that wins too often will be asked to retire.

"We also wanted a longer building period than [U.S. FIRST's] six weeks," says Garcia. "You cannot take a group of kids, teach them what they need to know, design a robot, build it, and test it in six weeks. In BattleBots IQ, you can take however much time you want, and compete with that same robot as many times you want within the entire school year."

BattleBots IQ tournaments have only one weight class, the equivalent of BattleBot's Middleweight. There are further restrictions on some technologies, such as pneumatics, but the robots are not "dumbed down" for kids; a legal BattleBots IQ robot is essentially a legal BattleBots Middleweight. "That's one thing Greg and Trey were adamant about," says Garcia. "The reason the kids get into the curriculum is that they want to build BattleBots. We've done our best to keep everything the same.

"We've built BattleBots IQ on the sports model," says Garcia. "Some of the kids aren't football players or whatever, they're the nerdy kids. This has given them an environment where they find kids like themselves, and they can be on a team together. Just the emotional and social benefits are amazing. One of the parents said, 'Thank you so much! Yes, my son is smart. Yes, he's going to college, but he would have never gone to the prom if he hadn't been on the team with girls.'"

The first BattleBots IQ tournament, for kids 12 to 18 years old, took place on March 29 and 30, 2002, at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. More than 40 robots and their teams attended the event, including teams from BattleBots IQ pilot schools.

BattleBots IQ is now spreading beyond the 17 pilot schools. Minnesota is planning to implement the BattleBots IQ program statewide in 2003, in an effort to keep kids interested in manufacturing and keep their manufacturing industry alive.

Pete Lambertson:

The Man Behind the BattleBox

"I first met Greg and Trey when they brought their robot, La Machine, in for some work," says Lambertson. At the time, Lambertson worked at San Francisco's Standard Sheet Metal, but he retired soon after.

"I was just relaxing and having a good time," Lambertson says. "Playing golf. Then Trey called me up one day and wanted to talk. He had the idea of putting on this robot combat event, and the main thing he was concerned about was the safety of the audience. He asked if I'd be interested in building an arena." At first, Lambertson wasn't sure he was ready to give up his retirement. But ultimately he was hooked: "It sounded like it would be interesting to do, and it would be a challenge, and I said, 'Yeah. I'll do it.'

"We came up with a modular system that you could build in any shape or size," Lambertson says, "and we raised it off the floor so you could put weapons under it." Most of the original arena was fabricated at Standard Sheet Metal, but Lambertson has his own shop now, dedicated to building and improving the BattleBox. Lambertson is in charge of the BattleBox from design and fabrication, through shipping and assembly, to working with the television production company to set up lighting. Oh yes, and he runs the BattleBox during the events, too. Every time you see a Kill Saw emerge from the floor to send a bot flying, or a Pulverizer pound a bot into the arena floor, that's Lambertson at work.

Do people ever feel that they've been treated unfairly by Lambertson's arena? "Oh yes," he says. "I hear that all the time. But I try to be as fair as possible. If I get one robot, I want to get the other robot too.

"We're not there to destroy the robots; we're there to make it more exciting, to throw the robots around. And, of course, the guys who do get hammered on usually make it to TV. We've had people drive their robots into the hammers to make sure they get on television.

"I really enjoy what I'm doing," he says. "It's a lot of hard work, but it's a lot of fun. It's not the kind of work I'm used to; you're in show business. I sign autographs, and that's an experience I never thought I'd have. Trey was always kidding me that he was going to make me famous.

I laughed. I thought it was a joke."

Mark Beiro:

The Man in the Box

Mark Beiro is one of the top ring announcers in the country. He's been announcing boxing matches since he was 9 years old-professionally since he was 13. "I'm very well known in the boxing community," says Beiro. Is he ever recognized in public? "Yes," he says, "and people usually say: 'Hey! Aren't you that robot guy?'"

Yes, Virginia, Mark Beiro is that robot guy, the man who introduces the BattleBots and announces the decisions. In fact, spectators see more of Mark Beiro in the BattleBox than anyone else. In his characteristic ring announcer's tuxedo, with silver hair and sonorous voice, he has become an icon of the burgeoning sport of robotic combat. And no one is more surprised than Beiro himself.

In nearly four decades as a professional, Beiro has announced everything from Jai-Alai to boxing to pro wrestling. He's even been tossed out of the ring by a

350-pound professional wrestler. (All in good fun, he insists; he was unhurt. "Believe it or not," he says, "I'm a great acrobat. But I left in the ambulance and they still had to pay me for the whole night.")

Nothing he'd seen before, however, prepared him for the notion of BattleBots. "I was approached by Lenny Stucker and Robbie Biner of [the New York production company] TalentWorks," says Beiro. "They produce and direct the ESPN2 Friday night fights, and I do a lot of the announcing on those shows. They came up to me at one of the fights and said, 'We're producing this show called BattleBots. It's robots, and they fight each other. It's a new thing, but we really believe in it.' They had the highest enthusiasm.

"I said, 'What do you mean, robots fighting?' And they tried to explain it to me-that there are robots shaped like flying saucers, and some that look like suitcases on wheels with hammers coming out of them-and I just sat there with my mouth open.

"Finally, Lenny says, 'Look, are you going to do it or not?'"

Beiro agreed to announce the event, but when he first stepped into the BattleBox to announce bouts for the Las Vegas 1999 competition, he still didn't know exactly what to expect. "I remember going into the arena and having to explain to people what they were about to see without knowing what they were about to see. I described it as a robot demolition derby. But seeing the first fight cured me. At least now I knew what they were trying to do.

"But I really didn't see the possibilities for the sport," Beiro admits. "I don't think I would have gone to see it. But I'll tell you this: you won't ever find me missing one now."

Although he's become a big fan of BattleBots as a sport, Beiro is not himself mechanically inclined at all. "I'm an announcer because I can't do this kind of thing," he says. "I don't know a pneumatic from a schematic. Builders are always coming up to me and saying, 'You know, Mark, we put a 347 Jizzo in there.' What are you saying? What are you talking about? I don't even know how to boot a computer."

Gage Cauchois:

Father of the Flying Wedge

Gage Cauchois has been an avid robot fighter since that fateful day in 1994 when neighbor Greg Munson approached him about building a robot. The result, La Machine, was the first combat wedge. "That high-speed inclined plane was my invention," says Cauchois. "Simple physics. La Machine was the ski jump coming to the skier."

Vlad the Impaler

Cauchois got the idea for his next robot, the legendary Heavyweight Vlad the Impaler, from a videotape of the 1994 Robot Wars: "There was an actual forklift driving around. It didn't work, but I thought, 'Wow, what a concept! Pick the other robot up, then what's he going to do?'"

While in England with Greg, Trey, and La Machine, Cauchois visited a museum featuring historical figures. "They had a … Vlad the Impaler exhibit," he recalls. "And as soon as I saw that name, it was like an electric spark." Vlad the Impaler, a fast forklift with two fang-like prongs, was born-at least in Cauchois's mind. "I gave it a history," he says. "I created a whole Vlad the Impaler robot mythology, and then just went ahead and built it."

Vlad retired last year, but Cauchois is building its replacement-Vlad the Impaler II-and continues to compete with Super Heavyweight Vladiator.

A Modern Artisan

"I've always been a working artisan," says Cauchois. But his background's not exactly in robotics. For the last 20 years Cauchois specialized in designing and building lighting fixtures. "I'd make a hundred or a thousand of them," he says, "reproducing the same design over and over again.

"With BattleBots, I'm spending more time building one really cool machine; it's more satisfying. And I get the opportunity to work with things I didn't in lighting, like motors." Well, Cauchois did prototype some motorized track lighting once. "That was the closest lighting got to fun," he says. "But the world isn't really ready for motorized lighting."

Just the Bots, Please

For the last year, Cauchois has been building robots exclusively, he says. "I've stopped doing lighting because A.) I was making as much money with the robot and B.) I was sick of lighting.

"Robotics is probably the most multi-disciplinary field there is. That's what I like about it. It's got high technology, machinery, electronics, computers, miniaturization, programming.… You're working in every possible medium.

"Plus you get to travel, and meet Carmen Electra."

Cauchois says that "BattleBots is the ultimate creative toy," but he takes it seriously. "I've never had a robot stop working in a battle. That's why I've done well-my robots don't break.

"If someone's going to build the best robot, it might as well be me."

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