What Happened to Robot Wars?

RMDumse wrote:


In every endeavor you need a constant stream of new ideas. Mini-sumo embraces all the fundamentals we want to encourage; people just need to be creative and think up new uses for the old stuff. That generates interest, just like robot combat generated interest when it was new. Otherwise, things grow stale and people move on. Too many things claiming our attention.
Someone thought up a contest using 100mm x 100mm robots duking it out in a small arena reminiscent of a popular sporting event in Japan. Great idea! Wonderfully demonstrates and teaches robotics principles. But it's old-hat now. Someone needs to come up with another idea. It doesn't need to be completely new. Sometimes a small change gets people's interest again.
Might it be time, for example, for low-end bipedal sumo (not talking RoboOne here, but $100-$150 robots again)? Or robot arms that play each other in Tic-Tac-Toe. The rules can be written to keep the hardware relatively inexpensive, yet further the art, science, and fun of robot building. Perhaps you agree that the *most* promise in any endeavor always comes when the most people can directly participate.
-- Gordon
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    --FWIW just as the kabosh was put on the whole thing we were beginning to see bots built with genuine "robotic" aspects; i.e. there was one bot that could navigate and center itself in the arena and there was another that could sense oncoming opponents and do an avoidance maneuver. It was early days in this evolution when the tournaments (and the sponsors) went away, but progress was waaaay beyond the pace it would have been otherwise.. Sigh. I miss it.. :-(
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : One joy of middle age
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : is precision flatulence...
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steamer wrote:

Yes, my opinion as well. The "John Henry" effect was about to come into play. The issue wasn't that it started out RC. The issue was it had to go more and more autonomous to be competitive.
The same is true of the EOD robots we see now. They are all operator controlled at the moment. But there are issues of them recovering themselves if communications are lost, to get themselves back to their operators, some by retracing their steps and others by actual GPS coordinates and obstacle avoidance.
For me, it's not where it started, but where it had to go, that was so exciting.
-- Randy M. Dumse www.newmicros.com Caution: Objects in mirror are more confused than they appear.
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Thus far I don't think anyone has mentioned
Author    Stone, Brad. Title    Gear heads : the turbulent rise of robotic sports. Publication info. New York : Simon & Schuster, 2003.
I learned a great deal about the rise, interpersonal warfare, and fall from this. Amazing what lawyers, corporate power struggles and stupidity can accomplish.
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    --I'll second that; an excellent book. I think the only thing that could kickstart Battlebots again might be a big-ass grant from DARPA, but the gummint is in too much disarray to make that happen. Pity.
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : One joy of middle age
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : is precision flatulence...
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I'm a little confused here. I've seen many different robot competition TV shows though I never really kept track of which was which and when they were on. But there seemed to be about 6 different shows all together (at least). Are they all off the air and shut down now? Has all the excitement in the sport actually dried up?
Is the problem legal issues with who owns the rights to the concept of robot competitions? Or did the public just get enough of it and the ratings dropped?
The problem with keeping the sport running off of TV (it seems to me) is who would want to spend thousands of dollars designing and building a high power combat robot just to have it sawed in half and burnt to a crisp if you weren't going to get your work on a popular TV show? I mean, really, having a little crowd of 100 people go mad at seeing my $5K investment and 6 months of work destroyed in an afternoon is not enough motivation for me to do it. But getting on a national TV show could do it (even more if they could offer serious prize money).
Though I never expected these shows to hit prime time TV to compete with the other reality shows, I expected to see them continue to grow and evolve. Are they actually all dead at this point?
--
Curt Welch http://CurtWelch.Com /
snipped-for-privacy@kcwc.com http://NewsReader.Com /
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That is the question that I am asking....where does one see these contests TODAY?
If they are not on cable, are they on the Web somewhere?
If they are not, they should be...there is no excuse why they couldn't be.
TMT
Curt Welch wrote:

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steamer wrote:

I think some of you folks are forgetting that robot combat is NOT completely gone. It's simply not on regular TV, and there aren't as many contests. Nothing stops those truly interested in either the sport, the science, or both to stay involved. If there aren't as many contests these days, could it be that people got, um, bored?
The autonomous functionality you describe is pretty common in challenges involving $150 robots. So what is it about the big hardware that is such a "promise" to robotics that a mail order robot from Parallax or Junun is not? If it's cool a combat robot has a sensor to avoid its opponent, why isn't it just as cool that some mini-sumo robot can do the same thing, and at a fraction of the cost so that *everyone* with $150 can build one?
Please don't get me wrong: I don't fault the idea of building something just to blow it up, or get blown up. It's fun stuff. But let's not fool ourselves into thinking it ever had the potential to turn a specialized niche science/hobby/interest into something else. The wheelchair motors, the Colson wheels, the aluminum and steel sheet metal, the 100+ amp DC controllers -- they were with us before robot combat, and they're still there today, regardless of the lack of TV shows.
-- Gordon
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    --Well I think that the process of 'ruggedizing' (if that's a word) the electronics became a really interesting issue in the larger machines. IIRC one of the stats that came out of Battlebots was that 85 percent of all matches were lost due to failure of electronics, particularly motor controllers. It got to the point where several competitors were designing and building their own solutions to these sorts of problems. I know we lost our one televised match when a 200 amp controller smoked. We weren't running wheelchair motors either; almost nobody did, preferring the more efficient and higher power motors like Lemcos or roll-your-own variations on this idea. In short lots of development was going on and, if you're looking for practical products emerging from these contests I think there would have been quite a few more hybrid and electric vehicles on the highway by now if we'd kept at it. That's one biggie that comes to mind but there was other spinoff that was nipped in the bud too.
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : One joy of middle age
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : is precision flatulence...
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steamer wrote:

Hmmm. I wasn't aware the idea of robot combat was solely owned by Trey Roski and the other show promoters. All it takes is two builders to make a competition. If it's a promising field why does it have to suffer at the hands of commercial interests.
I dunno...if I could muster an electric/hybrid car design that benefited from my experience in robot combat competitions, I wouldn't worry about paying for my hobby from show prizes. I'd just do it and reap the rewards later. Electric/hybrid cars design is poised to be a hundreds of billion dollar business in just a few short years. Seems like a good investment to me, if in fact these kinds of innovations were taking place.
-- Gordon
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    --IMO it was a frivolous lawsuit; how can you claim 'ownership' of a sport? Actually altho I don't know the actual terms of the settlement I'd bet that this was a major defense. Left to its own devices I believe that Trey would have grown it into an organization as diverse and inclusive as NASCAR, but we'll never know.

    --Sounds good in theory but it doesn't hurt to have a little R&D money and a ready-made venue to demonstrate and pimp your new products. That was one of the problems with Robot Wars and Robotica: no advertising was permitted so nobody could get sponsors to help offset the costs of building a good bot. This made the sport a rich man's hobby until the smaller weight classes emerged. But that meant that all of the kick-ass electronics weren't needed any more.     Plus, when the size dropped below a threshold the arena (and the audiences) shrank: when combat takes place on a 6ft x 6ft space what's the point in having bleachers when the combatants are so small you can't see them from any farther away than a few feet? There was definitely an ego component to being on a team; many folks lost interest in the competition when the adoring crowds went away, heh.
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : One joy of middle age
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : is precision flatulence...
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    --Aha! A new conspiracy theory! IIRC Trey thot the commercial was a hoot and there was no lawsuit but I could be wrong.     --One thing that *did* happen was the lawsuit when the dickhead weasel who "owns" Robot Wars sued Trey and Battlebots, claiming that RW was due a royalty every time BB had a skirmish. That lawsuit included a gag order from the judge so that Trey couldn't even talk about it on the website and, in fact, the website wasn't allowed to post any updates for almost two years. By the time the lawsuit was settled no network would touch BB with a ten foot pole, even though they *won* the lawsuit! The last network to host the show was Comedy Central, but after they started adding the bimbos the parents of the team members protested and BB, which is really a federation of teams, rather than a game show like RW, wouldn't accept further offers from CC to air the fights.     --Nowadays all the indy stations on cable and satellite TV are owned by one of the Big Three, so no matter who BB could contact the fix is in; i.e. there are no more stations available to host the fights. Crummy situation all around. When the last BB tourney happened a few years back there were over 600 machines registered and maybe 200 to 300 teams in the world who were eager to compete. Nowadays there are less than a handful and I have this dreadful feeling that all the ex teams are now majoring in law instead of engineering. It's a nightmare I have...
--
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Hacking the Trailing Edge! : is precision flatulence...
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