back to article BBC risks wrath of android rights activists with Robot Wars reboot

BBC 2 has shrugged off the rising android-rights movement to reboot Robot Wars, the mechano pugilistic punch-fest which enlivened many hungover Sundays* in the late '90s. The broadcaster has commissioned six one hour episodes of the new series from Mentorn Scotland, which it reckons will exploit “a raft of technological …

  1. Tom 38

    Who is presenting?

    Craig Charles and Philippa Forrester? Yes please

    1. 0laf

      Re: Who is presenting?

      Not sure 'Flippa' would be quite so easy on the eye these days.

      RW was a bit of a guilty pleasure back in it's day. Hopefully they'll have learned to forget about the light robots and concentrate on those heavy ones made from scavenged bits of challenger tanks etc.

      1. El_Fev

        Re: Who is presenting?

        Nope she is still fit for 47 I would go there!

      2. Simon Harris

        Re: Who is presenting? @Olaf

        If the picture on this page is anything like recent

        I would have to disagree with you Olaf.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who is presenting?

        @0laf; "Not sure 'Flippa' would be quite so easy on the eye these days."

        That's okay, it was Craig Charles he was fantasising about!

    2. Alister

      Re: Who is presenting?

      Yep, I'd go with that, or even Robert Llewellyn and Lisa Rogers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who is presenting?

        What about Nick frost and Simon Pegg?

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Who is presenting?

          Nick Frost and Simon Pegg? In the arena...

        2. ThomH

          Re: Who is presenting? @AC

          The second rule of Robot Club is... no smoking?

          1. Matthew Smith

            Re: Who is presenting? @AC

            "The second rule of Robot Club is... no smoking?" No, its keep your mobile in airplane mode.

    3. Matthew Smith

      Re: Who is presenting?

      Lets be honest, its not Phillipa Forrester, its the leather pants.

      1. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip

        Re: Who is presenting?

        Nick Frost in leather pants it is then.. are you sure about this?

    4. Horridbloke

      Re: Who is presenting?

      I wonder if Jeremy Clarkson could ever be desperate enough to return. (He fronted RW before it was any good.)

      1. BebopWeBop

        Re: Who is presenting?

        Clarkson - Mano a Roboto against Razer - I would even subscribe to Amazon to see that.

        1. Fink-Nottle

          Re: Who is presenting?

          No contest. It's gotta be the Wee Man.

  2. jeremyjh

    Friday nights, Sundays... both.

    There are all the listings...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Yep, right up there with Star Gazing Live."

    Don't go dissing Stargazing live - it's brilliant.

    As is smashing the fuck out of robots!

    1. TheProf

      Re: "Yep, right up there with Star Gazing Live."

      I was going to add that the follow-up programme, Star Gazing Live: Back to Earth, was even better. Just like The Sky at Night used to be: a bunch of experts talking about their field.

      I was, but I've just checked the BBC2 schedule and they seem to have made only one Back to Earth this series. Instead you can watch the hilarious antics of Russell Howard, Clare Balding, and Stephen Fry.

    2. DropBear

      Re: "Yep, right up there with Star Gazing Live."

      "As is smashing the fuck out of robots glorified RC cars!" TFIFY...

  4. tomban

    obligatory scene from Spaced

  5. Come to the Dark Side

    "Meanwhile, Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence at the University of Sheffield, has famously warned against the rise of killer robots who could turn on their human masters."

    Wasn't Messr Sharkey a judge on Robot Wars anyhoo?

    1. Quortney Fortensplibe

      Noel Sharkey...

      "...warned against the rise of killer robots who could turn on their human masters..."

      I thought that was the job of the Sex-Robots?

    2. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Wasn't Messr Sharkey a judge on Robot Wars anyhoo?

      He was.

      He was also nominally "in charge" of a project at Magna, when I worked there in 2001 - 2002, which involved a "show" using autonomous robots which didn't work, mainly because they were built from cheap B&Q battery drills and the plastic gears lasted about 30 minutes. He lost interest in actually keeping the things working, despite Magna putting a lot of money into the arena where they were to be the star attraction. There was even a completely false story about one of the robots escaping - even if it had "broken out of its paddock", it wouldn't have been able to get as far as the car park before either throwing a cog or running out of battery (or more likely, just continually bashing its head against one of the arena walls), let alone reaching the M1.

      The story did find its way to the main BBC News website at the time, but I can't find it there now, perhaps they have removed it.

      The robots were "handed over" to us, the centre's engineering team, and we spent several weeks investigating how to make the blasted things more reliable and actually able to do the things they were being advertised as doing. Eventually (IIRC) we decided to keep them going as they were because there wasn't a budget available to completely rebuild them. Eventually they were ditched altogether.

      Sharkey was disinterested in the little robots because the next project was more exciting - robotic airships. Unfortunately they were just as awful. They had so little lifting power that the electronics was seriously short of battery power. They were intended to fly around the building (Magna is built inside an old steelworks) but not only were they too weedy to overcome the light airflow through the building without being pushed sideways, their sensors - essentially the ultrasonic focus units from Polaroid cameras - simply didn't work and they kept crashing into things.

      The things were so seriously behind schedule, and Sharkey wouldn't put any more students on the task (the project was basically being run by a pair of Phd students), that I had to bring a friend of mine up from South Wales to work the summer holidays finishing off the mechanical parts - cutting, shaping, glueing bits of Carbon fibre.

      The escaping robot story evidently created a lot of interest because I note that shortly after I left this story popped up about one of them escaping. To be honest, this story is slightly more believable as the building they were being developed in had large roller-shutter doors at both ends and the balloons did occasionally end up tangled in the overhead crane even while I was there. On the other hand, this followup story smacks of overegging the pudding again as I really don't think the blimp would have stayed together for long enough to get 300 miles away. More likely it had crashed into a tree and was floating down the Don.

      Needless to say (but I will anyway) the blimps never worked and were never - as far as I'm aware - put into use.

      So the name Noel Sharkey is a bit "meh" to me, and his arch-rival Kevin Warwick (the bloke who had an RFID chip implanted in his hand) is just as bad.

      I had a great time working at Magna, though the management was awful. I note that they are no longer open all year round and find that not at all surprising as the place simply couldn't make money. The appointment of a manager to manage the maintenance department's manager was only a symptom and I was "made redundant" in 2002, along with a colleague from the maintenance department, bringing that department down to two actual engineers and two managers. About three months later they appointed a new engineer - on a much lower salary than the rest of us had been getting - and then they sacked the manager's manager. Within 18 months of me leaving there were only two members of permanent staff on the whole site who had also been there when I was "made redundant".

      Me? Bitter? Not really; although I was out of work for 9 months after that, it gave me the push to enable me to start up on my own as an electrician, and it cut many of the ties my new family had with South Yorkshire, enabling us to move to South Wales to be nearer my parents and where for the first five years we owned a house mortgage-free, prices being that much lower down here.

      I've not been back since, though now that one of my ex-colleagues has actually gone back to work at Magna part-time, perhaps I should visit.

      As for Robot Wars, my boys have recently, and completely independently, discovered the original series which is being shown nightly on "Challenge" (ch 145 Freesat / ch 45 Freeview). They are quite excited by the prospect of a new series, though they are getting a bit jaded by the old one.

      Me, I went off it when it stopped being about "clever" robots and obstacle courses and simply became people with too much disposable income burning it on national TV.


  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wow, you're really a barrel of laughs.

      1. DropBear

        "Wow, you're really a barrel of laughs."

        That doesn't mean he isn't also exceedingly accurate. When the contestants will be required to keep their hands in plain view and off any remote controls during the actual fight I might even become interested, but not until then. Yes, it's excellent practice for CAD use in industrial housing design and failure modes of mechanical linkages. No, it has nothing to do with "robots" or any meaningful notion of combat based on anything other than mostly just sheer luck.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Barrel of Laughs

        For a change 1980s_Coder posted a comment without trying to promote the Acme_Splaffer.

        So give him some credit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You can still get one man and his dog on t'internet if it's excitement you're after?

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        One man and his dog

        Yeah, but be careful with your search terms.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: One man and his dog

          Indeed, I remember once making that mistake searching for 2 ladies wimbledon cup winners.

          1. Tim Jenkins

            Re: One man and his dog

            Or when researching the nocturnal visual capabilities of medium-sized domesticated mammals: 'do goats see in the dark?'

        2. Blofeld's Cat

          Re: One man and his dog

          "... be careful with your search terms ..."

          I made that mistake when searching for the WW2 atomic bombs using their code names...

          1. Tim Brown 1

            Re: One man and his dog

            Try "Flockstars"

            (yes that really was a programme in 2015, gawd help us!)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      your 'Troll' is better than the Reg's

    4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      I'm trying to work out if you're trolling. You do know "Look Around You" was a spoof written by the multi-talented Peter Serafinowicz, don't you? Although his take on Robot Wars would probably be worth a watch.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @loyal commander

        I was trolling for fun, but yes Peter Serafinowicz is a leg end

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      BBC Select. I'd almost forgotten about that! Did you watch it with or without the descrambling?

      However, my all-time favourite retro show was that odd programme they used to show in the middle of the night which consisted of a bunch of random-looking black and white dots dancing all over the screen. The soundtrack was almost incomprehensible to the point of being little more than a loud hiss. Amazing!

      Seemed to be on all the channels at one point. It was very avant-garde, yet they even showed it on ITV back then- can you imagine them being so experimental today?

      They did an American version too; you can see it on the TV set in the film "Poltergeist" where I think it formed part of the plot.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If its boring...

      @1980's coder

      If its boring, then make one that is better and make it interesting again.

      All that 1980's coding should come in handy.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wonder if the 'House Robots' will have been spruced up.....Matilda with a Rail Gun maybe?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Upgrades?

      Good idea, but I reckon that if you could power an effective rail gun on a robot that size you could just as easily dump all that charge into your victim and it'd be much more effective.

  8. codejunky Silver badge


    The BBC must be worrying about the loss of licence payers if they are bringing back watchable TV! A good show that demonstrated that 'kill it with fire' only applies to things that will be killed by fire (remembering a particular bot covered in flammable material for amusement) and the enjoyment of watching multiple 'trials' before they went head to head for a smashfest. I enjoyed watching people put effort into different attributes and those who relied on purely a big hammer didnt necessarily win.

    Good for the BBC and hopefully they will make some more stuff of interest to me to win me back.

    1. Adrian Jones

      Re: Wow

      Ah, Diotoir. :)

      I remember that a lot of the robots carried a piece of its fur, as Team Diotoir helped so many of the other teams with spares and repairs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow

        Ah, Diotoir. :)

        yes, they had more than a few issues getting their 'Bot through customs from Eire in those days

    2. King Jack

      Re: Wow

      "Good for the BBC and hopefully they will make some more stuff of interest to me to win me back."

      It makes no difference to the BBC whether you watch them or not, so long as you pay them they are happy. That's why they specialize in crap antiques, interview, cooking, quizzes with no prize money or impossible to win big. micro-short 'series', shows. They could show the testcard and not lose a penny.

      If this is successful they will sell it to Sky (again).

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Wow

        It was Channel 5 that it moved to.

        Ah, I remember my entrants into Robot Wars Extreme. They lost most awesomely.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the question is....

    ...will flying droid be allowed.

    3D Robot wars, bring it on.

    1. Dwarf
      Thumb Up

      Re: So the question is....

      The obvious next questions are :

      1. How many BBC Micro Bit | Arduino | Beagle | Raspberry PI based robots will come out of the woodwork (metalwork ?)

      2. Are swarm's of centrally controlled / distributed controlled robots allowed now ?

      3. Drones ? Airspace ? 3D Wow that would add a new dimension :-)

      4. Lasers ? Got to have lasers

      5. Are Boston Dynamics allowed to enter ?

      and ... perhaps Amazon can deliver spares for robots that have had failures ?

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: So the question is....

        IIRC the rules specifically encouraged for-the-time difficult builds such as swarm robots and walkers by allowing greater weights etc

        1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

          Re: So the question is....

          > IIRC the rules specifically encouraged for-the-time difficult builds such as ... walkers by allowing greater weights etc

          Ah yes, a walker was allowed 200kg, a wheeled or tracked one only 100kg.

          I had an interesting idea for something that would technically be a walker, while incorporating the idea of stored kinetic energy ala Hypnodisk. Just thing what that could do with another 75-100kg in the rotor :-)

          Alas, I would never have been able to afford the bits even if I'd had the time - and then they canned the series.

          I did here tales from "unhappy" contestants that the bouts were absolutely not run to the rules. Times were extended if the producers thought they could get another destructed machine for the TV ratings - not very fair on the builders of the machines hacked to bits after the bout should have ended.

    2. Whitter

      Re: So the question is....

      Hopefully less drone, more zeppelin.

      Zepplins are cool.

      1. TimeMaster T

        Re: So the question is....

        "Zepplins are cool."

        Unless filled with Hydrogen.

        Then they are really Hot!!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At last, a use for 3D printers that doesn't involve crime.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    High Tech? Nope just will it burn

    Having worked on several of the Robot Wars spin offs - technogames etc, I doubt that the technology will change much from RC cars with a big hammer - high tech, in my case with maze solving autonomous robots was not 'exciting' enough for the production team and we were asked if we could get them to chase each other or even engineer the odd crash and the team could then add pyro for effects!!!

    1. theOtherJT Silver badge

      Re: High Tech? Nope just will it burn

      The thing is with the rules being what they are (weight limit of 100Kg, no explosives, fire/plasma throwing, or projectile weapons on the grounds of them being far too dangerous) robot wars ended up pretty much a solved problem. You mount a big gas-ram under a flippy thing and just throw the opposition around. There's no need for it to get higher tech. That level of tech was already basically unbeatable.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Honda have just confirmed on their website...

    ...that their 'House Robot', ASIMO, will be entering the tournament! Apparently he's going to 'Charm' all the other robots into submission with a big lump hammer!

    1. Harrapino

      Re: Honda have just confirmed on their website...

      You'll never guess where they've put the hammer!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could you not find even one person to back up the "wrath of android rights activists" claim? You quote two people from unrelated stories. I know it's hard to sex up "BBC recommissions Robot Wars" but this is a stretch. I know this makes me sound petty but I am embarrassed to have clicked on this bait.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      A man walked into a bar... and said ouch*

      *I'm unable to provide any evidence or witnesses to this event. Sorry.

    2. cray74

      Could you not find even one person to back up the "wrath of android rights activists" claim?

      You took an El Reg title at face value instead of comedic value? Geez, as soon as I saw "robots rights activists" I figured the claim had to either be:

      1) Fictional, exploiting the recent story about robo-prostitute rights activism, or

      2) Some angry misfit living in their parents' cellar and not getting enough social media attention over their other obscure rights campaigns, like saving leeches from medical exploitation**

      You quote two people from unrelated stories.

      Regarding angry misfits, the two quoted people weren't exactly experts in robotic rights, either. They just got press time for raising a stink about the abuse of nearly non-existent robo-hookers, a titillating click bait topic.

      I know this makes me sound petty but I am embarrassed to have clicked on this bait.


      **Seriously, that's a thing. I know nurses who have said they're instructed to keep their leech use quiet or their hospital will be targeted by animal rights activists. Like saving a leech is more important than controlling swelling and fluid retention in re-attached amputated limbs.

  14. Sleepypete

    Vulturebot ?

    Anyone else hoping that SPB turn their talents to making an all conquering, all destroying, punyhuman enslaving Vulturebot ?

    1. Thecowking

      Re: Vulturebot ?

      I asked the same thing in an email to El Reg on this very subject.

      As of now, Lester is yet to email me my plane ticket and invitation to come to Spain with my welder and mask. It can only be a matter of time though,

    2. VinceH

      Re: Vulturebot ?

      An excellent idea! C'mon El Reg!

  15. Seajay#

    Big hammer

    As I recall, the big hammer approach tended to do quite badly against a high-speed, wedge-shaped ramming/flipping robot. It's really difficult to wield your hammer effectively against any kind of moving target by remote control and any mass put in to a weapon system was mass taken away from armour, robustness and maintaining a low CofG. The robots all got quite boringly similar in the end. Maybe that could be changed by more permissive rules around what weapons are allowed but to do that you'd have to beef up the protection for the audience.

    1. NinjasFTW

      Re: Big hammer

      The flipper robots weren't the most exiting to watch granted but by the later seasons there were some fantastic bots with spinning, weighted discs and crushing jaws.

      Razer was my favorite

      Many bots also 'evolved' righting mechanisms that effectively rendered the flipper bots toothless.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Big hammer

        Many bots also 'evolved' righting mechanisms

        I think Rex Garrod was the first to do this

        Will Chaos 2 and George return?

        Also the great to watch Hypnodisc

      2. rh587 Silver badge

        Re: Big hammer

        "Many bots also 'evolved' righting mechanisms that effectively rendered the flipper bots toothless."

        That depended on your strategy. Chaos 2 was usually let down by reliability, not the novelty of it's hoofing flipper, which was more than adequate to roll their opponent so they could shunt them in the pit or a patrol zone whilst they were busy righting themselves (Razer's SRiMech for instance was elegant but slow). That's assuming they hadn't flipped them out the arena entirely.

        Battle Bots contestants by contrast never really got into flippers because they had an entirely enclosed arena with no way to eject your opponent from proceedings.

      3. Stoneshop

        Re: Big hammer

        some fantastic bots with spinning, weighted discs

        Hypnodisk's first couple of matches were [redacted] [redacted] [censored] amazing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Highland Games

      I've lived in Glasgow, worry about protection for the robots, the audience can look after themselves.

  16. TRT Silver badge

    They could combine...

    Robot Wars and Top Gear. Set it in maybe 4 square miles of waste land and pit self-driving cars against each other filmed from above with reaper drones and AI hover cams that follow the combatants around.

    1. arrbee

      Re: They could combine...

      I suspect matching Chris Evans against a robot with a lump hammer would appeal to a wider audience.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: They could combine...

        Celebrity star in a car obstacle course versus killer Google Carbot.

    2. Lamont Cranston

      Re: They could combine...

      Clarkson & co., locked in a pit and tormented by armed robots?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Peter X

    Spotty overlords

    Still giggling at that one!

    So I think I'm right in saying that in the previous series, the robots were just remote controlled things? Will that be the case in the new series, or will they be completely autonomous? Or a bit of both?


    Don't the fly-wheel-bots always win?


    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      That would be interesting, but might result in some boring matches (Robot A mistakes wall for Robot B, Robot B spins in circles).

      The BBC could specify a standard processor and suitable language for programming the robots.

    2. TRT Silver badge




      No. They don't. The big munchy thing built like a titanium shithouse wins.

  18. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Paging the ALF

    I wonder if the ALF could reform as the Android Liberation Front, freeing Robot War contestant machines from their warehouses and workshops before being put in the arena and being smashed to death?

    I guess that would be considered some kind of terrorism these days; one man's robot's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.

  19. Dan Wilkie

    I don't think there's really any robo ethical questions here...

    Unless things change a lot, it'll still just be tarted up RC cars with hammers wanged on the front, and all the high tech ones will get annihilated by some kids with a flipper, quicker reactions, and a desire to murderbone everything.

    I still enjoy it though...

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      quite so Dan,

      If anyone biulds a pi powed self driving, self target aquiring robot where the driver/pilot just gently encourages , corrects , or points it in the right direction I'll be impressed .

      However I think it will be exactky the same as before.

      1. Boothy

        I imagine the main controls, will as mentioned, just be a remote control device, although perhaps via clicking on a touch screen, rather than via direct forward/backwards/turn type controls.

        But I can imagine with the throw away costs of things like the pi zero and similar boards, these will likely have lots of sensors and automated or semi-automated processing.

        Which would allow for things like automatic firing of weapons (or defences).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          oh yes - locally autonomous control of say, easily acquired and converted cordless power tool with modern li-ion or li-polymer batteries, could make for some considerable upgrades compared with past.

          Even without the local control - matched counter rotating angle grinders perhaps?

          I'm looking for the screwfix catalogue that went in the recycling bin last night now!

          1. DropBear

            "...counter rotating angle grinders..."

            Been there, done that (okay, more like saw it) - still just an RC car, still boring as fuck...

  20. JDX Gold badge

    I don't _think_ the idea was anyone would be having sex with _these_ robots, though given the types of people who are involved I wouldn't like to speculate what happens behind closed (shed) doors...

  21. Peter X

    Also, if I enter a bot called "The Clarkson", do you think they'll just ban me outright? 'cos I think that's a really good name!

    1. Thecowking

      I think naming it after the original presenter would be fine.

      Craig Charles was the replacement.

  22. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Pah. RC models vs more RC Models

    Tech has oved on since the last series.

    Isn't it time for non RC machines to play 'whack a mole'? The only RC allowed would be to stop and start.

    That I'd watch.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Pah. RC models vs more RC Models

        >Why even bother with the physical machines smashing each other up?

        Because software without hardware can be boring.

        With the hardware, teams will be composed of people with different skillsets, as well as encouraging young people to learn practical skills.

        Personally, I'd like to autonomous robot wars, with standard constraints. Just as an example:

        - The CPU must be a XYZ with an RST GPU, programed in [language]

        - Power supplies must be no more than N x li-ion batteries of DEF variety. If this was a commercial show, they could have sponsorship from an 18v powertool manufacturer, and state that all 'bots must use Ryobi/Makita/whoever model BAT018 batteries, for consistency.

        I'd even be tempted to specify standard materials ( "No more than X Kg of 3mm sheet aluminium, X Kg of standard PLA or ABS polymer, X Kg misc, etc"), to place the emphasis on design and engineering, and not just whose dad has access to a milling machine. The materials I've specced can be easily worked (with a jigsaw, or laser-cut by a bueaea, or 3D printed) in almost any garage.

        Just ideas.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Pah. RC models vs more RC Models

          Huh? Can someone expand on what they objected to in my post?

          Was it:

          - the the software-on-hardware format?

          - the idea of restricting the hardware and materials that can be used?

          - the idea of restricting the construction methods so that they are accessible to a wide pool of participants?

          Genuinely, I'd respect your point of view, but I just don't know what it is!

          1. theModge

            Re: Pah. RC models vs more RC Models

            If it's any help I quite like the idea though I'd be a smidge less perspective: You can use any processing you like up to a given value ceiling and program it in your choice of language.

            There's a need (and it needs to be well thought out) to balance innovation and doing things the producers haven't thought of vs who ever can afford the best wins.

          2. Yugguy

            Re: Pah. RC models vs more RC Models

            I gave you an upvote. Cos as entertaining as RW was, it was still basically one remote control vehicle against another.

            I'd like to see armed robots that decide themselves how to attack, what routes to take, when and what weapons to deploy. No user interaction allowed apart from initial switch on.

            And some kind of final Predator style self-destruct.

      2. Fink-Nottle

        Re: Pah. RC models vs more RC Models

        > If it's going to be AI vs AI, as you suggest, why not do it all virtually, with people submitting their code to run in a simulated environment.

        It's been done.

        You'd think an 80's coder would be aware of CoreWars?

        Apparently it's still alive and well. Mmmmm ... Recode!

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Pah. RC models vs more RC Models

          CoreWars? Don't I remember typing that in out of a magazine on the school's BBC Micros? Or perhaps it was on a cover disc. I thought all my geeky schoolmates would love it, but only one of them got the hang of Redcode and the others were too much into AD&D or somesuch to spare the time. I had good fun myself though...


      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Pah. RC models vs more RC Models

        "If it's going to be AI vs AI, as you suggest, why not do it all virtually, with people submitting their code to run in a simulated environment."

        You Mean something like the ancient Crobots?

        Great fun at the time but very televisual :-)

  23. Frumious Bandersnatch

    apex predators

    Not sure how "fresh" they could make this given that, apart from minor tweaks, the top predator slots have all been established at this stage. So despite some technological advances (or at least more people coming at this via Arduino and Pi rather than RC), the metagame is still going to be like it was before: wedge vs spinning disk vs puncturing/smashing/crushing.

    Maybe one thing that could be done would be to have "power-ups" like in Wipeout. The first to roll over a lit power-up tile would get some sort of bonus weapon like:

    * releasing a bowling ball

    * giving partial control over a house bot

    * pistons or conveyor belts

    * temporarily jamming another player's controller

    * raising sunken bollards

    * activating ramps or platforms

    * etc

    Basically if evolution of the bots has slowed/stopped then maybe evolving the arena is the way to go.

    Another way to go might be to vary the games so that it's not all about destroying the other bots. You could have rounds based on stuff like a slalom course, circuit racing, robot football and maybe some autonomous challenges (no RC). Take out the destructive element, though, and it's less Robot Wars and more something like Scrapheap Challenge or The Great Egg Race. Hardly likely to appeal to purists.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: apex predators

      Yeah, the problem with the original show was that Robot A might be destroyed on its first round, and unable to compete. Why is this an issue? Because if one accepts a Rock-Paper-Scissors scenario as plausible, it makes competitor's fate luck of the draw.


      Contestants, working within material and construction constraints, submit their designs to the BBC. If there robot is damaged, new parts are laser-cut and 3D printed by the BBC, and assembled by the team. The team may also choose from a limited, but wide, selection of off-the-shelf components (Bloggs disc saws, Jones' hammer heads and centre-punches, etc, nuts, bolts, ) Hell, having the teams assemble their components into a robot could be a competitive round in its own right, rewarding design-for-maintenance)

      Having robots that are smaller, lighter aqnd quicker to make using simpler tools (once custom laser and £d-printed parts are supplied) would result in a more rapid 'evolution' of the teams' designs.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: apex predators

        Actually, screw the BBC and let's launch the Reg Automonous Robot Death Match* tournament of our own.

        As a bonus, it would make the forums more fun to moderate:

        Sir, you have downvoted me and I demand satisfaction! Robots at dawn! Or about ten am if you want to get a full English first!

      2. IsJustabloke

        Re: apex predators

        "yeah, the problem with the original show was that Robot A might be destroyed on its first round, and unable to compete. Why is this an issue? Because if one accepts a Rock-Paper-Scissors-lizard-spock scenario as plausible, it makes competitor's fate luck of the draw."


        You're welcome.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: apex predators

          What, as opposed to a Rock-Tube-Powder-Lizard-Kirk scenario? :)

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any rules about including electronic warfare capabilities ?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. TRT Silver badge

        In the final round, it happens ten times a second.

    2. Keir Snelling

      Hypnodisc - That was the flywheel spinning machine that destroyed most enemies it came across.

      I happened to live near where the original series was filmed, and our kids were invited to be in the live studio audience.

      Attending that was a bit of a wizard of oz moment. Seeing how the magic of television was actually created - with the director yelling cut mid fight, so a house robot could be tweaked/saved from imminent death, kind of took some of the wonder away.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        >Any rules about including electronic warfare capabilities ?

        Also, should the show use autonomous robots, physical distractions to upset the enemies object-recognition routines... like a matador using a red towel to spoof a bull.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I hope this time round we're going to see some female 'Roboteers'!

    1. IsJustabloke
      Thumb Up

      Re: Sausage-Fest!

      I recall there were several female roboteers and not only that I'm fairly sure they were mostly very attractive too

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sausage-Fest!

        @IsJustABloke; Yeah, that's the most important thing about having female contestants on Robot Wars- that they're attractive, so that salivating male nerds can drool all over them.

        God forbid any remotely average-looking women would appear on Robot Wars with a p**s-poor justification like her robot being well enough built to win the competition.

        Also, I bet all the male contestants were f*****g Adonises too, right?

        With attitudes like that, I can't begin to imagine why Robot Wars would have been such a "sausage fest" in the first place. *cough*

        1. DropBear

          Re: Sausage-Fest!

          Yes, God forbid a (probably male) commentard notes that (a) there actually were female contestants attending as well and (b) they also happened to be attractive, the thing any male brain is wired to notice first, second and third - or are you implying should a non-attractive female contestant have won the audience would have booed them off stage and the judges would have taken the trophy back...?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Sausage-Fest!

            No, I'm saying that the first thing the guy noted after noting the presence of women was their appearance- nothing to do with the reason for their being on the show, nothing to do with how good they were or how they compared to the men in that respect.

            Implication was pretty damn obvious that the first thing they're going to be judged on is their appearance. The flip side is that any woman who has the temerity to be less than a stereotypical beauty knows damn well that the opposite is likely to apply too, regardless of her technical and fighting skills.

            I sure as hell wouldn't blame some insecure-about-her-appearance teenage girl for having second thoughts about wanting to get involved in the thing. Or, for that matter, any woman who was interested in electronics etc. who happened to be attractive but wasn't interested in being there solely to be judged on her appearance and drooled over.

            Pretty sure I (as a man) wouldn't be interested in working in a field dominated by women where they were judged on their ability but I was constantly being judged on how close I came to being a male model. (Hint; I don't, I'm a pretty average-looking guy).

            And enough with the "that's the way my brain is wired" BS excuse for poorly-socialised leches. You're not a monkey, you have the ability to keep your mouth shut and override that in much the way that you manage not to blurt out to your attractive female dentist that you'd like to **** her, even if you would. (Well, at least I hope you can).

  26. IT Hack

    I, Robot

    Andriod rights activists...for a millisecond I thought my smartphone gained sentience.

    Then I realised it was someone with too much time on their hands.

  27. -maniax-

    Robot Wars is still going as a live event if anyone is interested

    It's not called "Robot Wars" (probably for copyright reasons) but it's still the same thing that was shown on TV with many of the same competitors and house robots

  28. Bbbbit

    Someone fetch me a bucket of iced water and a strong cup of coffee...

    Charles! Put down the crack-pipe, get your sorry arse out of bed & dust off the leather jacket; you've got a gig again!

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Someone fetch me a bucket of iced water and a strong cup of coffee...

      Actually, he's filming another series of Red Dwarf at the moment. And on New Year's Eve, his Radio 6 Funk show shifted to Radio 2 for the afternoon.

      But yeah, I saw him DJ at a night club last year, and his enthusiasm did appear to be... enhanced.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Someone fetch me a bucket of iced water and a strong cup of coffee...

        A friend of mine worked with him when he was DJing (friend is a soundtech)

        The expression "interesting to see how someone can be and still DJ very well" was used to describe the event....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Someone fetch me a bucket of iced water and a strong cup of coffee...

          "interesting to see how stoned someone can be and still DJ very well"

          I was half asleep when I posted that

  29. 's water music

    anti-droid-sex activists and anti-robo-war campaigners

    silcon powered or silicone powered? Horses(!) for courses I guess. Fnaar

    Presumably Job's famously prudish app store policies preclude the need for anti-ios-sex activists

  30. steamnut

    immersive experience?

    Whoever wrote this article clearly didn't really watch it and certainly never saw the US version. This was really good engineering at work and it encouraged youngsters to actually build something for a change.

    Imagine what can be done now with better battery packs, lot's of low cost Chinese power parts, video links, wifi and blue-tooth links, sensors of every kind with Raspberry Pi's and Arduino's inside. "Robot Wars Rebooted" ought to be the title.

    As for the BBC saying it will be an "immersive experience", are Microsoft paying for it (fingers already down throat)?

  31. Neil Lewis


    I really hope there's at least one robot in this series. Y'know, an actual autonomous machine, as opposed to just lots of remote controlled vehicles. That would actually be an interesting use of all the new tech in the intervening years.

  32. MJI Silver badge


    And bring back our old favourites please.



    Chaos 2

    Bigger Brother

    The steerable diff one

    Highlight of the show was Matilda being wrecked by crushing.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Great

      What about the one guy who always entered walking robots? He had mad hair and always wore bow ties.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Great

        Was that Scuttle?

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: Great

          No this guy had a few entires. One of them was Mr.Struts I think.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Great

            > He had mad hair and always wore bow ties.

            Then amanfrommars found The Register ...

    2. Dwarf

      Re: Great

      Matilda vs Razer

  33. wolfetone Silver badge

    My Time To Shine

    Back in 2001 I convinced my then electronics teacher that the school should enter a robot in to Robot Wars. He agreed, so I designed the robot and got two pals involved as well. Then Robot Wars stopped so the project didn't happen.

    Wasn't until about a month ago while moving my stuff out of my mom's house to my new house that I came across the original drawings for the robot I had designed. I still think it was a beautiful functional design, and I was a bit sad that it never got built.

    But now I can realise my dreams of being a roboteer and shaking hands with Craig Charles and having something upon my person shook by Phillipa Forrester.... although I'm not so keen on the latter now.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The 'Fuckest Uppest'

    I'm gonna enter an anvil on a hoverboard!

  35. Jagged

    Hopefully it will be actual robots this time rather than remote controlled drones

  36. John 104

    One Step Closer

    To Cyberball...,d.cGc&psig=AFQjCNH1e7MzNXrxdmDNsVbPJ5zEkrazOg&ust=1452786031528138

  37. jason 7

    It was fun in the early years.

    The interesting thing was watching the evolution of the robots from series to series as some thing were found to work and others were discarded or improved. Then towards the end it kind of reached a plateau of what was possible with the tech available and without spending tens of thousands.

    However, as other have said I don't reckon on any great leaps in the tech. It will still be quite rooted in tool-shed tech.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Voice controlled?

    Cortana - "What can I help you do now?"

    Contestant - "DESTROY!"

    1. Dwarf

      Re: Voice controlled?

      Nah, that would fail.

      Windows would decide to do 435 updates and require a reboot during the battle.

      Windows GWX would use all your wireless bandwidth downloading a copy of Windows 11 just in case you might want to install it now, or tonight.

      Your battery now goes flat due to the above and you loose the battle.

      Anyhow, you need not worry, your microphone is not Windows compatible in the first place.

  39. Big_Boomer Silver badge


    Robot - a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer. Never saw one of those on "Robot Wars"

    Android - (in science fiction) a robot with a human appearance. Nope, never saw one of those either, except once or twice when Craig was hungover. :)

    As for the reboot,.. LET THE WARS BEGIN!!

  40. Banksy

    Kim Shillinglaw

    Should surely change her/his name to Shim Killinglaw in honour of this announcement.

    Also hoping for some favourites to return such as Razer. I used to like the idea of Gemini too

    In terms of pit reporter totty they were all quite nice, I liked Julia Reed too( Only have vague memories of Jayne Middlemiss doing the show (

    Always thought on Robot Wars they might do some different types of challenges, obstacle courses or races to break things up. Of course the ultimate would be a fight between the house robots or the series winner taking on a house robot of their choice. I assume though that the house robots were massively overpowered compared to what the competitors were allowed to produce.

  41. Dr. G. Freeman

    Ah yes, my school were asked to be in series two - helped build our 'bot, which wouldn't power up in the (non-televised) qualifier, so we had to pull out- turned out it was a flat battery.

    Was built from an old beer keg, with tartan tape stripes round it, to show off our "Scottishness".

    This "reboot", will probably be just a pale imitation of Robot Wars, which will probably bore rather than inspire.

  42. Banksy

    Pit totty - Rachel Riley

    Just had a great idea, Rachel Riley would be ideal pit totty for the new series. Because she likes maths or something. Relevant.

  43. TheProf

    Sounds great except

    They're using the same jury from Come Dancing and at the end of the show you have the 'opportunity' to phone in to vote off the robot you thought performed worst.

  44. x 7

    Feminazi Richardson

    FFS will you please stop giving that rapid Feminazi Kathleen Richardson (you got her name wrong again) airtime?

    She's one of the growing numbers of left wing "thinkers" who believe they can impose their radical eccentric views on the rest of us.

    She wants to ban sex robots. Why? Simple, because given a choice of shagging her or a robot, most hot blooded males would choose the robot. She's a munter. What she can't have she doesn't want other people to have. There you are, real true socialism

    theres an interesting commentary on her views at

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Welcome to Robot Wars Celebrity Special"

    How about a season finale featuring a bout between Twiki, R2D2, Metal Mickey and a Dalek....ACTIVATE!

    1. Dwarf

      Re: "Welcome to Robot Wars Celebrity Special"

      You forgot dusty bin - he can pick up all the broken bits.

  46. Anonymous Coward

    'Robot Combat League'

    If you haven't seen it, I suggest a look at SyFy channel's 'Robot Combat League'. It's clearly quite heavily 'stage-managed' but it looks spectacular - like a real-life go at the fights of Real Steel.

    The robots are huge upright, hydraulically-actuated walking frames (though cheekily stabilised - possibly even moved around - by a massive strut from behind). One operator moves the robot, the other wears a pair of 'Waldo'* arms that replicate movements onto the robot and they just punch each other to pieces.

    *Check your Heinlein

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: 'Robot Combat League'

      "though cheekily stabilised - possibly even moved around - by a massive strut from behind"

      I tried watching that. It was painfully retro and just generally rubbish.

      The original was much more fun.

  47. Dan Paul

    No holds barred, no rules.....

    The world needs a form of "Robot Wars" that allows ANY style, weapons or configuration of "robot".

    The robots should be "fully autonomous" other than the RC commands to start and stop battling. Not like the "Real Steel" knockoff where it's more like a huge puppet show of "Rock'em, Sock'em Robots"

    An abandoned quarry would probably be the best site, that way flame throwers and missiles wouldn't be likely to damage anyone. There would also be enough space and enough places to hide in ambush.

    I'll even bet that MOD and DARPA would help provide funding and other resources

  48. Eponymous Cowherd

    House robots

    Please, no "house" robots. Just two (or more) contestants in the arena slugging it out until only one survives.

    If they do have them, they should be fair game. No sissy shouting "cut" and running in to rescue them if one of the contestants gets the upper hand.

  49. Medixstiff

    "Surely being forced to fight in Glasgow is just as bad as being forced to service the sexual desires of socially inadequate humans"

    More like just fed up with women's sh1t, as my friend would say.

    1. DropBear

      ...because only attractive people are supposed to have desires, surely.

  50. Nattrash

    Robot Wars Reloaded?

    OK, call me a grumpy old person, but I've the sneaky feeling that RW in todays day and age of Health and Safety could be a bit of a ... challenge. On top of that, it isn't really innovative, now is it, recycling an 18 year old TV program format?

    Then again, thinking out of the box, inspired by recent El Reg postings: what about one team flying a self build drone around and an other ground based team releasing their autonomous bot to shoot it down? Hell, a successful one could even be a commercial block buster!

    1. Jedit Silver badge

      "it isn't really innovative, now is it, recycling an 18 year old TV program format?"

      Reminder that this year we're getting a Dad's Army movie.

      Re: the sexbots - are El Reg really saying they wouldn't watch Robot Whores?

  51. Stephen Wilkinson

    Sadly my line manager hates flying

    He and one of my other work colleagues built Clawed Hopper but he hates flying (not that it would be easy to have a 200lb robot as hand luggage) so the move from making the program in Birmingham to Glasgow mean that he won't be taking part in the new series.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sadly my line manager hates flying

      Last time I checked Glasgow was accessible by road and rail from England!

      1. Alister

        Re: Sadly my line manager hates flying

        Last time I checked Glasgow was accessible by road and rail from England!

        and by sea!!

        1. x 7

          Re: Sadly my line manager hates flying

          "and by sea!!"

          go on then, name a current Glasgow-England passenger ferry service. i don't think there's been one since WWI (I'd be happy to be proved wrong though).

          1. Seajay#

            Re: Sadly my line manager hates flying

            You could do Liverpool - Belfast - Stranraer - Glasgow if you were desperate for a ferry ride and/or had some strange aversion to Hadrian's wall. Ok the last leg is by coach. However, I think the question was more, how come he was happy to commit the huge amount of effort and significant money required to build a warrior robot but not the relatively small amount of effort and money required to rent a van and drive to Glasgow?

  52. Pseudonymous Diehard

    Robot Wars reboot?

    How about Jack Dee presenting it.

    At least he makes not wanting to be there quite amusing.

    Failing that...Noel Fielding and Richard Ayoade?

    I like to idea of Robert Llewelyn but only if he comes as Kryten.

  53. bodgerbill

    This is very sour for a bitter man. I worked at Magna back then and Prof Sharkey's robots made a great show until the funding ran out. He did not have a couple of students on the project. There was large funding for 5 post doctoral staff and the built all of the robots and used genetic algorithms to program them. Almost half a million visitor came to see them in their first year.

    It was a robot food chain with 15 small prey robots getting their energy with solar panels - they had to find light trees to recharge. Then bigger predator robots hunted the prey and sucked about half their battery power. It was fascinating and there was a lot of media attention in 2001 with a lot of film footage around at the time. I will try to locate some.

    Eventually the funding ran out and lay offs at Magna meant that there were no staff to maintain them - they started falling apart and the prof asked the exhibition to be shut down.

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