back to article El Reg mulls entering Robot Wars arena

The news this week that the BBC is to reboot its celebrated robo-deathmatch series Robot Wars prompted much comment from our beloved readers, and amid the excitement, Sleepypete posed the provocative question: "Anyone else hoping that SPB turn their talents to making an all conquering, all destroying, punyhuman enslaving …


    1. Anonymous Custard

      Re: best feature

      I'm sure the turtle may have something to say on that front?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: best feature

      I knew a girl like that once

  1. BongoJoe

    My name is Sparticus

    How about something with two massive arms that can hold a very strong net which gathers the opponent up. Than then, like a bloody massive flail, bashes the netted robot into the ground repeatedly.

    Using the other robot to bash itself is better than using a hammer on your own robot.

    1. Roq D. Kasba

      Re: My name is Sparticus

      I like this, engineering to the letter if not spirit of the competition.

      Similarly, I have a design for a robot that bribes judges.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I seem to recall one called RaZor

    A wedge design with a powerful jaw that bit chunks out of opposing robots. The bashing, stabbing and cutting ones make an exciting mess but generally did't win.

    I await the self aware vulture killer robot tank and the end of civilisation as we know it - and I certainly dont expect agreement on its prime directive...

    Mind you, all El reg needsto do is to find a nuclear powered robot tank, loaded with drills and Frikkin lasers, quick trip to Mars could sort it without a tiresome design and 3d printed titanum superstructure...!

  3. Bbbbit

    Web of Death

    I always thought there was scope for some kind of monofilament-type web/net thing that would tangled the opponent, get into all their bits thus immobilising them prior to drag/push into the pit. The tanglebot would need good weight & traction to leverage the advantage.

    Don't get me wrong,I prefer massive f*ckoff hammers but there is always a balance between art and practicality that has to be made.

    As far as the Vulturetron droid goes, I'd speak to those Razor chaps; their hydraulic beak was hardcore.

    Given this is 2016 is there any way DevOps or T-shaped Developers can help?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Web of Death

      It sounds like you too have used a small RC helicopter to remove cobwebs from a high ceiling!

      But yeah, get some diamond dust abrasive wire around your enemies axles, and let them damage themselves using their own motors and batteries.

    2. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Web of Death

      Here are the weapons restrictions, according to the rules:

      The following weapons and materials are forbidden from use: Note: Some of the listed items may be allowed for effects but not as weapons. If you have an application of these items which you feel should be allowed, please include this in your application.

      12.1 Active Weapons

      All robots must incorporate an active offensive weapon which is designed to damage, immobilise or seriously affect the operation of the opponent’s robot. Weapon specifications must be included on your application form for approval.

      12.2 Invisible Damage

      Weapons designed to cause invisible damage to the other robot. This includes but is not limited to:

      12.2.1 Electricity

      Electricity as a weapon such as Tesla coils, Van-der-Graaf generators, stun guns, or cattle prods.

      12.2.2 Radio Frequency

      Radio Frequency jamming equipment or similar devices.

      12.2.3 Radio Frequency Noise

      Radio Frequency noise generated by an IC engine. Use shielding around sparking components.

      12.2.4 Electromagnetic Fields

      Electromagnetic fields from permanent or electromagnets, which affect another robots electronics.

      12.3 Stopping Combat

      Weapons or defences, which tend to stop combat completely, of both (or more) robots. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

      12.3.1 Entanglement

      Entanglement devices such as nets, fishing line, cables, string, glues or tapes and any similar devices.

      12.4 Rotating Weapons

      The speed of any rotating weapons - e.g. circular saws, carbon or steel cutting discs - must not exceed the manufacturer's specification. The manufacturer's specification must be available for inspection.

      12.5 Hardened Blades

      Commercially manufactured, hardened steel blades that may shatter are not allowed.

      12.6 Untethered Projectiles

      Projectiles must have a tether capable of stopping the projectile at full speed and be no longer than 2.5m.

      12.7 Heat and Fire

      Heat and fire are forbidden as weapons. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

      12.7.1 Generated

      Heat specifically generated to damage an opponent

      12.7.2 Flammables

      Flammable liquids or gases

      12.7.3 Explosives

      Explosives or flammable solids such as DOT Class C devices, Gunpowder, Cartridge Primers or Military

      Explosives, etc.

      12.8 Smoke and Light

      Smoke and light based weapons, which impair the viewing of robots by an Entrant, Judge, Official or Viewer. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

      12.8.1 Smoke or Dust

      Large quantities of smoke or dust. Limited smoke effects may be allowed.

      12.8.2 Lights

      Lights such as external lasers and bright strobe lights, which may blind the opponent.

      12.9 Hazardous Materials

      Hazardous or dangerous materials are forbidden from use anywhere on a robot where they may contact humans, or by way of the robot being damaged (within reason) contact humans. If unsure please contact Robot Wars.

      12.10 Weapon Restraints

      All high speed weapons (eg. all pneumatic and rotational weapons) must incorporate a secure restraint that locks the weapon in a safe position. The restraint may incorporate locking pins and bars but must be secured in such a way that it cannot be removed inadvertently. The design should ensure that the weapon cannot be fired during the activation process.

      12.11 Interchangeable Weapons

      Robots with interchangeable weapons are permitted under the following conditions.

      12.11.1 Weapon Type

      All interchangeable weapons must comply with rule 12.1

      12.11.2 Weapon Application

      All interchangeable weapons must be submitted on the Robot Wars application and are subject to approval.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Web of Death

        So that just about excludes anything except a tickling stick, aka. feather duster

      2. DropBear

        Re: Web of Death

        Hmmm, I don't see anything in there about... non-flammable liquids. Are these bots actually watertight...? I'm not sure the electronics would like that. Dual-wielded Super Soakers, anyone...?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Web of Death

          >Dual-wielded Super Soakers, anyone...?

          That's so easy to defend against:

          And also, the water-weapon approach might fall foul of rule 12.3 "Stopping Combat"

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Web of Death

            The rule reads "12.3 Stopping Combat

            Weapons or defences, which tend to stop combat completely, of both (or more) robots. This includes, but is not limited to the following:"

            i.e. Suicide devices. BOTH robots.

      3. Mark 85

        Re: Web of Death

        Rats... no explosives. The rules take the fun out of everything.

      4. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Web of Death

        They didn't mention vibrations... (could be visible)

        Grab hold a robot and proceed to blast it with a variable range of vibration frequencies until you find the one that causes it the most problems. Then lock onto that one and turn up the power...

        OK, there's the possibly downside that you come across a really well built robot or you shake your own robot to pieces, but, whatever!

      5. WatAWorld

        Re: Web of Death

        I think I've found a loophole.

        The way I read it, it is okay if I use a miniature black hole, provided I'm not spiraling hydrogen into it at light speed so as to generate offensive cosmic rays.

  4. Aaiieeee

    Take advantage of modern sensor accuracy

    e.g. for a flipping bot don't attempt to waste power or time flipping the opponent unless its sure to succeed (by confirming the flipper is actually under the opponent) etc.

    Or having a camera to check distances and have our bot always stay just out of range of their weapon until the right time to strike

    1. Thecowking

      Re: Take advantage of modern sensor accuracy

      Or just have a photo-diode on the top of the flipper at a point where if it's not in the shade, it won't activate the flipper.

      Or a simple pressure switch there.

      Not as cutting edge, but much more reliable, cheaper and easier to do.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Take advantage of modern sensor accuracy

        >Or just have a photo-diode on the top of the flipper at a point where if it's not in the shade, it won't activate the flipper.

        Enemy robot is fitted with LEDs on its undercarriage.


  5. Caff


    Wonder would it be possible to improve on the control and reaction time of a bot by using some of of autopilot system?

  6. naive

    Jihad bot

    Enters the arena, pulls a cord.... Booom.. blasting shrapnel in the shape of a flat circle one foot above ground.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Jihad bot

      Prohibbited by rule 12.7.3


      Explosives or flammable solids such as DOT Class C devices, Gunpowder, Cartridge Primers or Military"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Jihad bot

        Since when did the law stop a suicide bomber?

        They lose, but they think they won.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Jihad bot

          72 litres of virgin oil awaits in silicon heaven.

  7. Drefsab_UK

    hmmm idea's idea's

    is it possible to get a link to the rules & regs for design specs.

    Im guessing there will strict limits on weight / power / capapabilities.

    If weight wasn't an issue if was thinking something on tank style tracks (like some of the house robots) but I love the idea of having the option of magnetizing them life me now etc...

    Sloped armour to deflect incoming weapon attacks etc (I read mesh interior is supposed to be banned.

    Then weapon, hmm needs thought need to know the rules but we want maximum power with in the regs and for it to be quick to reuse/rearm. Maybe kind of flywheel to build up massive momentum force to then drive that force into some offence (so not talking a hypno disc). Maybe driving a harpoon like spike thats also backed by hydrolic/phenmatic presure to build up crazy force and smash interior components etc.

    Id love to see something that could take on the house robots :)

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: hmmm idea's idea's

      I've emailed the contact details for entry to Lester Haines, hopefully he'll report back to us here if he hears back from them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hmmm idea's idea's

      IIRC - tracked robots were routinely disabled as the tracks are a weak point, frequently becoming broken or pulled off the wheels.

      Qualities for robot design choices:-

      Wedge or dome shapes most stable with wedge shapes more able to lift opponent drive away from floor.

      Low ground clearance/high weight to reduce risk of lifting off drive or tipping

      hidden or recessed wheels more survivable than tracks and easier to retain some traction with damage

      needs nice paintjob that can be burned, impaled, immolated, torn spectacularly but without causing significant operational issues

      needs to be fast with low or zero turning circle to avoid firepits or house robots (did they meet all the rules too, i was never sure...)

      Qualities for weapon design choices:-

      Still thinking a strong hydraulic spike or claw e.g. razor is most likely to penetrate defences.

      Powerful rotating saw also effective, particulary when paired with claw

      Hammering and projectile weapons were fun to watch but slow to reset and not very effective.

      I am sure others will take a view too, but that was my experience...

      Most of the s

    3. Quortney Fortensplibe

      Re: hmmm idea's idea's

      How about a robot which confuses its opponent by releasing a cloud of greengrocer's apostrophes?

      1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

        Re: Re: hmmm idea's idea's

        Greengrocer's apostrophe's, surely?

        1. Quortney Fortensplibe

          Re: hmmm idea's idea's

          I s'ee what you did there!

    4. Mark 85

      Re: hmmm idea's idea's

      I can see where Kevlar might be a good thing to incorporate.

  8. Tom_

    Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton

    I don't care what you build, but please, please wrap it in meat. Living tissue might be tricky, but meat and preferably skin should be achievable.

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton

      Would wrapping it in bacon be a good thing then?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton

        "Would wrapping it in bacon be a good thing then?"

        No, that would be a criminal waste!

  9. Thecowking

    March is far too early.

    I was hoping to get a team together for this, but it looks like it'll have to wait for the next season. The rules are extremely restrictive though, from reading them that means 1)No high powered lasers or masers

    2)No jamming combined with either optical control or just autonomous robots

    3)No coil guns

    4)No hijacking by cloning commands and then rebroadcasting more strongly on the same frequency.

    5)No oil slicks you later ignite

    Basically they're not allowing anything new, just spinners, flippers and Razer.

    All my ideas are for naught.

    1. DropBear

      Re: March is far too early.

      there's really not that much one can do to a decently built slab of thick metal battle bot by flipping or hitting... they basically insist on turning this into a boring wrestling match.

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: March is far too early.

      Basically they're not allowing anything new, just spinners, flippers and Razer.

      Yup. Which is going to make it just as boring as the original show became.

    3. Tim Bergel

      Re: March is far too early.

      Mine too - I was going to suggest a thermic lance as an alternative to dropping thermite.

  10. Elmer Phud

    Robot name comp?


    Big Old Fat Heavy - them after-pub meals are responsible.

  11. 2460 Something

    Don't just mull, go hell for leather straight in.

    Something either flipper or massive spike damage. Really low to the ground to prevent also being flipped with shed loads of armour. Hydraulic wheels so can either raise up a bit if it gets stuck on a ramp or drop it to provide better anchorage. Needs a decent motor in it as well to keep it quite quick. Double shielding (outer skin, extra around vulnerable components).

    I'm excited already, and I for one welcome our new El Reg overlord :)

  12. ukgnome

    Drone on

    What about aerial bot's?

    1. John Tappin

      Re: Drone on

      Airbourne nulclear tank = good idea but not sure what weapon it could use within the rules apart from a bullet speed spike in a kamikazee dive onto the opponent...more like a guided armour piercing shell...

  13. Christopher Reeve's Horse

    Close range but powerful...

    How about a bolt gun like the one in No Country for Old Men?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Close range but powerful...

      The rules state that projectiles must be tethered, and that the tether is capable of stopping the projectile at full speed within 2.5 meters... so yeah, a captive bolt gun of the sort used for killing cows would be allowed, but not the one from No Country.

      1. teknopaul

        Re: Close range but powerful...

        No explosives, but as regular reg readers know really high mussle velocity is achieved with rail guns.

        Balance the strength of the cord with the mussle velocity from the rail gun so it doesn't fire over 2.5m. Requires getting in close should be fun to watch. Perhaps a retractable javelin.

        Not sure how happy the FAA will be to find out el reg is developing rail guns and space rocket tech at the same time.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Close range but powerful...

          "Not sure how happy the FAA will be to find out el reg is developing rail guns and space rocket tech at the same time."

          You don't need rail guns from orbit. Just some big heavy crowbars with minimal guidance to impact the target at orbital velocity.

          1. Christopher Reeve's Horse

            Re: Close range but powerful...

            A captive (penetrating?) bolt gun would be powered by compressed gas, similarly to many flipper type robot mechanisms. I'm sure the basic design could be adapted to have more reach and much more punch.

            In my head, the design would put it on the end of some sort of scorpion like tail which would be used in combination with pincers or some kind of big claw at the front. It would also shout things like 'GET OVER HERE' and 'FINISH HIM'...

            Not that I've spent much time thinking about it or anything...

  14. brakepad

    Wire wool

    [edited to say: just read the post that lists what is banned - never mind, maybe in another less restrictive future series!]

    Intrigued to know what is allowed in terms of weapons, but one thought I've had in the back of my mind for "when I go on Robot Wars" is to puncture a hole in the opposing robot using a large hollow needle, and fill it with wire wool, forced down the needle in a similar manner to that used to install cavity wall insulation. Before the needle is retracted, the wool would be ignited to give a lovely smouldering mess on the inside, hopefully cooking a few critical systems in the process.

    I suspect that incendiary devices might not be allowed though, as I don't recall anyone other than the house robots ever using a flamethrower.

  15. horsham_sparky


    We had a team started when I was back at Uni (the original series with philippa forrester).. those were the days when the best battery you could get was sealed lead acid or Ni-Cad.

    The rules were pretty tight at that point as well.. its tricky to get anything that has the run time, damage, weight, control and robustness and still meets all the rules. We never did crack it, we just didn't get the time to do it properly and graduated before finishing it. Oh well!

    Would love to have another crack at it though.. there's a lot of new tech on the market now which would be interesting to use, particularly with batteries and motors and motor drives etc. Lester, get in touch if you need a sparky/embedded SW engineer on the job ;-)

  16. Valerion

    So glad this is coming back

    Flicking through the upper echelons of TV channels the other day with my 10 year old boy and came across a re-run. He was instantly hooked and when I said it was coming back he asked if we could go. A quick Google revealed the on-going tour (I had no idea that was a thing!) would be visiting somewhere not too far away from us in the summer. 2 minutes later and tickets were booked.

    Can't wait!

  17. A. Coatsworth Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Whatever the weapons installed, I'd love to see El Reg killer bot with a paint scheme based on this magnificent beast:

    "Sarcoramphus Papa" is a cool sounding name too


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