Battle Robots Explained for Beginners

Battle robots are some things the mainstream media is fond of showing and often exaggerating; be it in the form of monstrous alien giants like the Transformers or more child-friendly and huggable Baymax in Big Hero 6. But what exactly are these battle robots? Are they really gigantic living, oil breathing pieces of metal? Have they been sent from the future to exterminate the human race? Or are they simply the result of the overactive human imagination? If you have been riddled quizzical by thoughts about battles robots and maybe want one of your own then you have come to the right place.

We will be talking about all things battle robots. What they are, how they’re made and how you can make one of your own.

What are Battle Robots?

Battle robots are used in robot combats, which are typically competitions in which two customized robots compete and use various methods to destroy each other. Battle robots are basically remote-controlled vehicles with armor and some kind of weapon.

While a robot battle lasts anywhere from two to three minutes, these few minutes are filled with harsh conditions and repeated attacks. Robot battles can be pretty brutal; sometimes even ending in the annihilation of the losing party (robot not the owner). So to ensure victory or at least to avoid complete decimation battle robots are often customized with heavy armor and lots of good wishes.

Battle Robot Competitions

Tens of hundreds of battle robotics competitions are happening regularly. A quick search on the internet will produce a list of multiple such competitions. Some of the most popular competitions are

  • BattleBots which takes place annually.
  • Robothon 2019, which will be taking place in Seattle, USA on the 5th of October

The associations that manage these events are different region to region. These associations oversee the different robot battle competitions going around and the rules and regulations that are applied to each event.

Rules and regulations

While the kill or be killed rule system might make it seem otherwise but there are certain rules and restrictions governing the chaotic world of combat robotics. Let us first go over the ways to win a competition, these may vary slightly from competition to competition;

  1. The simplest way to win a completion is to push your opponent out of the ring. The first robot that steps out of the arena is disqualified.
  2. If one of the participants taps out then the remaining robot wins.
  3. Judges present allocate points to each participant and if in the given time of the fight, usually 2-3 minutes, a winner is not decided, the participant with the highest points wins.
  4. Probably the most violent way to win is by immobilizing the opponents. This means that enough damage is caused by the robot that it stops working. In such cases, the match essentially becomes a fight to the death 

As you might have noticed most of these rules are similar to ones that apply to human combat sports, other than the gutting your opponents to death one.

What is The Difference between a Battle Robot and a Normal Robot?

Technically speaking battle robots are not real robots. They lack the level of anatomy most robots have. Battle robots are simply remote-controlled vehicles with armor and some kind of weaponry. The main job of the structure of a battle robot is to cause damage to the opponent and avoid damage in return. Both these things are achieved with some relatively simple components; thus, a battle robot does not require the complex anatomy that most normal programmable robots have.   

Different Classes of Battle Robots

Like in many human combat sports the participants of robotics battles, in this case, combat robots, are also divided into weight classes. Knowing why such classifications are made will greatly help with your understanding of how these competitions work and will also help with deciding on which kind of robot is best for you.

It must also be kept in mind that exact class definitions might change from competition to competition.

Heavier robots are often more sturdy and can exert more power but they are also a lot more expensive. Lightweight robots, while not as strongly armored, happen to be much cheaper. For a beginner starting out with a lightweight robot is advised, this will provide you with more time to understand the more complicated technicalities involved in making a formidable combat robot without having to lose too much money.

Designing a Combat Robot

For a beginner, it is important to remember to keep the robot design simple. The weaponry used must also be kept simple, it is suggested that you start out with a wedge or flipper, and slowly move on to more complicated and destructive weapons.

Make sure not to procrastinate. Creating a battle robot from scratch is a long and often arduous task, with many bumps and hiccups along the way. Start early and constantly testing your robot for faults is key, since the creation of the battle robot is pretty technical you never know what can go wrong.

Building a battle robot

The anatomy of a battle robot might seem relatively simple but a lot of thought has to be put in the making of a battle robot. Even though of these battles last from anywhere between two to three minutes, the battles are anything but easy. The robots have to deal with constant attacks from the opponents while having to try and land some hits themselves. Such demanding conditions mean that the material for the robot much is chosen carefully.

The basic materials required to build a battle robot are:

  • A few motors (to power the robot and the weapons)
  • A battery
  • Transmitter and Receiver
  • Wires
  • A frame

One look at this list might make building a combat robot seem like an easy task but it is a job that requires a ton of technical knowledge and experience. There are many things that must be kept in mind while designing the robot; most important is the type of material used. You may want the armor to be heavy and sturdy to avoid damage but have to remember that heavy armor might slow down the robot and make it easy kill. 

The following will give you a basic overview of the steps to follow while making your own robot baby

  1. First, think about what size you want your robot to be. Combat robots come in all shapes and sizes, and with each shape and size come a set of pros and cons. Go over the sizes carefully and decide what size would be best fitted for your dream bot.
  2. Set a budget. Probably one of the most important steps. Take your time, do your research and decide just much money you are willing to spend on your project. This will make designing and choosing parts for your robot a lot easier.
  3. Prepare an initial design. Create a rough sketch of your desired robot. Once your basic layout is done, you can go over it again to see what parts you aspects you want to add and remove ideas that might cause problems in the future.   
  4. Choose the components. The choosing of the right components is crucial in the making of a well-working robot. The components you choose will determine how smoothly your robot works and how much extra work will go into maintaining it.
  5. Create a computer-aided design (CAD). CAD is a program used to visualize different products in 3D form. This makes it easier for you to see how different parts will come together and work. This also helps you see what parts might cause problems in the future.
  6. Construct the manufactured parts. Out of the many components that will go into your robot, there are some you might not be able to buy. Since combat robots are largely customized some of their parts are not possible to find. In which case you are going to have to take things into your own hands. 
  7. Assemble the components. Once you have collected all your parts, start putting them together. It might take some time and head-scratching since these parts don’t always fit. 
  8. Take care of the wires and controls. This might be the more complicated part of the whole process for some people but, without the remote controls your robot is nothing more than a heap of beautifully arranged metal 
  9. Test again and again. Once your robot has been fully assembled take it for a test drive. Pay attention to what works and what does not. This way you can keep making improvements to the newly born robot until the day of the competition.

Most importantly make sure not to lose hope and not give up. Creating a combat robot can be an extremely frustrating job especially for a beginner but do not get intimidated by these obstacles.  Keep on moving forward with your project and you shall receive the fruits of your labor and money.