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Robot Wars ’15: Low Action, High Tension, Damn Emotional

Robot Wars ’15: Low Action, High Tension, Damn Emotional

20150208-IMG_6952

Robot Wars on campus (and as covered last year), organised by the IEEE Malta Student Branch, is one those rare opportunities allowing students to show off talents they’ve developed either as a result, or despite of, their academic studies.  It’s hard, with our academic system, to really let students shine, but events like these really do bring out the best of students of all academic paths and ages. Seriously – some of these robots are insane.

Let’s meet them.

Editor’s note: While some photos are part of the text, larger galleries can be found on Page 2 in a section for themselves, and organised by setting.

The Robot Wars 2015 Competitors

Robot Wars - DrobilkaDrobilka

Definitely the most intimidating of the bunch, Drobilka was built to deal, and receive, a great deal of pain. Some specs:

  • Armour: 3mm thick aluminium.
  • Two motors: 120W and 150W, one powering the rotating drum, one powering the robot itself.
  • Invertible – Drobilka can still fight if flipped upside down (assuming it survives the flip. More on that later!)
  • Weapon: a single massive rotating drum up front. Despite the intimidating “teeth” I was told by the team that the drum is meant to catch on the bottom of other robots and flip them. They didn’t exclude total destruction if Drobilka was up against weak competition.
  • Participated in the 17KG “Heavyweight” category

Robot Wars - Team RynoTeam Ryno

The inspiration behind this robot is pretty obvious. It was the Rhino, nature’s battering ram. Strength, power, and durability were the core principles behind this robot, with ramming being its originally intended offensive ability. However a rule change during development meant that an active weapon had to be present, leading Team Ryno to add a simple saw in the front and a bumper made of PVC piping to protect it. Some specs:

  • Built to ram and last longer than the competition in a battle
  • Features a wooden base for strength, an aluminium chassis, and additional aluminium sheeting for armour. Half a PVC pipe lines the front to protect Ryno’s weapon.
  • Armour: Sheet aluminium
  • Weapon: front-mounted spinner
  • Participated in the 17KG “Heavyweight” category
  • Cost: ~ €600

20150208-IMG_6786PX-1

Built by a team of Masters students, PX-1 was the most mysterious of the bunch. During preparations I heard rumours about it having been overweight by a kilo and a half at the previous day’s weighing. The other teams wondered about what these Master’s students had come up with, and when they did show up and show off the robot in battle, the concepts didn’t disappoint. PX-1 was a large black circle, wrapped in a rubber-like covering, and small protrusions along its circumference which were actually the tips of blades embedded within the robot. Its offensive ability was pretty clear: the blades would extend then the robot would spin rapidly.

It was the most impressive concept present, but electric goblins and a malfunction early in the battle meant execution didn’t live up to the potential. Some specs:

  • Round body, covered in a tough rubber-like coating.
  • Weapon: extending blades along circumference, robot would then become a “spinning top of death” in battle.
  • Participated in the 17KG “Heavyweight” category

20150208-IMG_69583310

Named after the brilliant Nokia phone, the 3310 more than lived up to its name. The only wedge-shaped robot in the competition, the 3310 was low, squat, heavily armoured bot whose pneumatically operated flipper stole the show. The Team was manned by veterans of at least last year’s Robot Wars. Some specs:

  • Armour: aluminium diamond plate sheeting
  • Weapon: pneumatic flipper
  • Participated in the 17KG “Heavyweight” category

20150208-IMG_6943Dicer

The most compact of the bunch, I first thought Dicer was fighting in the 5Kg “Featherweight” category. Despite its tiny dimensions Dicer weighed in at 17Kgs and was the most powerful of the bunch, as shown below. Unfortunately it was plagued by drive-train issues from before the event began, but gave a good show nonetheless. Some specs:

  • Armour: sheet aluminium
  • Weapon: rotating blades powered by a 1hp motor
  • Twin 350W motors for propulsion
  • Participated in the 17KG “Heavyweight” category
  • Cost: ~ €1000

20150208-IMG_6851Darth Invader

One of only two “Featherweight” contestants, Darth Invader’s machined aluminium hull and razor-sharp spinner make an impressive sight. Norbert Bonnici and Alison Baldacchino won last year’s Robot Wars with Chewie, another Star Wars reference.  Darth Invader was also the only robot that was invertible – had it flipped it would definitely have been out. Some specs:

  • Armour: machine aluminium
  • Weapon: top-mounted spinner running along Darth Invader’s circumference at high speed
  • Participated in the 5Kg “Featherweight” category
  • Cost: ~ €1000

Robot Wars 2015-14Lucky Devil

The other “Featherweight” contestant, Lucky Devil was definitely the underdog in this competition. I will personally admit to not expecting much out of its battle with Darth Invader. I thought its polycarbonate shell and foam interior would be its downfall but Lucky Devil was great in the arena.

The most notable fact about Lucky Devil isn’t the robot or its impressive durability, but the team members: John and Theresa Fiott, a father daughter team! Now, onto some specs:

  • Armour: polycarbonate panels, foam interior, with protruding spikes
  • Weapon: rotating spikes on the front of the Lucky Devil
  • Participated in the 5Kg “Featherweight” category