At Mechanical Power, we help manufacturers build industrial machinery and equipment by supplying them with the component parts they need through our global product sourcing services. Our dedicated sales team is ready to work with our clients to procure the parts they need for any project. When we are asked to help procure parts for a unique project, we are always happy to help. That is why when college engineering student Zachary Nall reached out to us for parts to help him build his battlebot, we jumped at the chance to help with this project.
Zachary reached out to Mechanical Power to help procure some parts he needed to build a battlebot for a student robotics competition. He is very passionate about engineering and robotics and is excited to participate in this competition which is the second of its kind put on by the program at Zachary’s school. He originally chose to reach out to Mechanical Power because his stepfather was a mechanic for many years who worked with our company and he referred Zachary to us. Zachary sent us 3-D models of his battlebot, the Roomba of Doom, or Doomba, so that we could provide him with the specific parts he needed to complete the bot.
History of Battlebots and Robot Combat
Robot combat is a type of competition in which participants build their own remote-controlled robots for the purpose of destroying or disabling other robots in battle. This type of robot competition was popularized by the American TV show Battlebots and the UK TV show Robot Wars in the late 1990s, but the history of robot combat goes back more than a decade before these TV shows hit the air.
The first robot combat competition in the United States was started in 1987 by the “Denver Mad Scientists Society.” Their Critter Crunch competition took place at the science-fiction convention MileHiCon in Denver. The first Robot Wars competition took place in San Francisco in 1994 and in 1997, the rights to the Robot Wars name was transferred to the British production company that started the TV show Robot Wars.
In 1999, competitors from the original Robot Wars competitions in the U.S. formed a competition called BattleBots. The first BattleBots competition was broadcast as a webcast and the second competition was a pay-per-view event. In 2000, Comedy Central picked up BattleBots as a weekly TV show that ran on the network until 2002.
By 2003, both BattleBots and Robot Wars were off the air. However, robot combat did not disappear as the Robot Fighting League and ROBOlympics continued to organize and regulate robot combat events in many different countries. In 2015, BattleBots came back on the air on the ABC network and in 2016, Robot Wars returned to TV on BBC2.
The two major regional associations for robot combat that operate today are the Fighting Robot Association (FRA) founded in the UK in 2003 and the Standardized Procedures for the Advancement of Robot Combat (SPARC) founded in the U.S. in 2015.
Robotics Competition and How Mechanical Power Helped
When Zachary reached out to us for help with his student robotics competition, he showed great enthusiasm for the project and sent us several 3-D models so we could see which parts he needed and at what size for his application. Through our analysis of the 3-D models and our conversation with Zachary, we discovered that he needed two 8mm sprockets, two ½” sprockets, and two chain loops at 16 inches each to complete his design.
These parts were sent to him and they arrived in perfect condition. Zachary was able to install the sprockets and chains and they were just the right size for the application. He sent us several pictures of the final assembly phase proclaiming, “Our platform is looking downright vicious as the rest of the parts come together into its final form. The competition won’t know what hit them!”
Robot Combat Rules
The rules of robot combat are straightforward. The robots are custom built by the participants for the purpose of destroying or disabling the other robots. A robot is declared the winner when it can immobilize the other robot without indefinitely holding or pinning it. If the battle ends and neither robot has been immobilized, the winner is decided by judges.
Zachary, a “self-proclaimed engineer, amateur rocket scientist and roboticist,” is excited about participating in the student robotics competition. He is following his passion by participating in this event and believes this competition is beneficial for his program.
Robot Combat and STEM
Over the last several years, the low number of students earning degrees in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) have not been able to fill the demand for STEM talent in the U.S. This has caused many to believe that the younger generations are not interested in pursuing STEM programs and employment.
One of the reasons Zachary is so eager to participate in the student robotics competition is to show that his generation does have an interest in the STEM disciplines.
“We hope to make a statement for not only this course but the program as a whole that our generation still loves applied engineering, programming, and mathematics. Skills that many people take for granted. This is something I’ve been passionate about my entire life, and I make it known through the effort and care I give to everything I do here.”
We certainly wish Zachary the best of luck in the battlebots competition and we are very happy to have been a part of this project. Be sure to look for Part 2 of this blog which will discuss the student robotics competition as well as the performance of the Roomba of Doom.
If you would like to learn more about the global product sourcing services provided by Mechanical Power, contact us or give us a call at (847) 487-0070.