Senor’s BattleBots Beat: Flippin’ Frenzy

Senor Weaselo

Senor Weaselo

Senor Weaselo plays the violin. He tucks it right under his chin. When he isn’t doing that, he enjoys watching his teams (Yankees, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers), trying to ingest enough capsaicin to make himself breathe fire (it hasn’t happened yet), and scheming to acquire the Bryant Park zamboni.
Senor Weaselo

Welcome back to the Beat! Last time, HUGE told Free Shipping to get big, Blacksmith bullied The Four Horsemen, and Yeti got its receiver issue from the Icewave loss fixed quickly enough to come try and wreck the KDFO studio. This week a DFO favorite makes her debut as do the Bronco boys (sorry fanboys, I’m not doing that, I got space to save) and a couple other robts we’ve never seen before. Not quite everybody yet, but we’re getting closer. So onto the fights!

SawBlaze vs. Reality
SawBlaze: 1-0 (W, KO 1:34 over Overhaul)
Reality: 0-0

When we last saw SawBlaze, it nearly managed to cut through Overhaul’s clamping jaw in their dominating KO win in the MIT grudge match, and I think everyone was thoroughly impressed. Reality is a Dutch robot making their debut, and their robot has a 68-lb. drum spinner at the front. The interesting thing is that they house the electrics for the drum inside of the drum, and I have to wonder how good of an idea that is, because won’t things get rattled around by the recoil? I had the same questions about Axe Backwards, but that didn’t really get much of a chance to answer them. I also have to say we’ve got a good number of Dutch teams in this year, as we have Reality, Petunia… okay, fine, two Dutch teams. The Brits always have a decent number, even without Team Hertz this year, but the point is is that robot combat definitely grew and became more international in the decade or so it had gone underground after BattleBots and Robot Wars went off the air. (Yes, I’m still sad Robot Wars went back off the air, especially because they just started selling the toys now and I kinda want a Matilda because she’s my favorite House Robot.)

My big question for this fight was whether the three-pronged dustpan of SawBlaze would hold up against Reality’s drum. The first exchange showed me I didn’t have to worry as much as SawBlaze was able to spin Reality around in the dustpan from the get-go, slam it into the wall, and scare Chris and Kenny with the first shower of sparks from Reality’s top. It’s like a foul ball back to the screen; nothing’s going to happen, but you still flinch. Even after a minor pop which might have slightly bent the middle of the three prongs, SawBlaze was able to take Reality and drive it around, like into the screws, or saw away at it. There were a couple of moments where SawBlaze started to lift above the ground and once or twice as a result ended up getting taken over the drum (and if the first strike from Reality didn’t bend that prong those most certainly did) but the damage was minor as SawBlaze continued to scoop Reality, taking it from wall to wall or stranding Reality on the screws for a few seconds, using the saw, and the works. In the final minute SawBlaze was able to finally land its saw on the stopped drum and cut into it, though I’m not sure how much damage it did; apparently ever cut SawBlaze was a just-miss. Kudos to Reality for staying aggressive throughout and still getting some licks in in the dying moments, but the decision was a formality, as SawBlaze wins via unanimous decision.

Petunia vs. Monsoon
Petunia: 1-0 (W, JD 3-0 over RotatoR)
Monsoon: 1-0 (W, JD 2-1 over Red Devil)

Both of these robots won their fights, but they both left me with questions afterwards. For Petunia, it was the actual power of the crushing jaw, which they said was 10 tonnes (that’s the metric ton) but didn’t get much penetration (heh, phrasing) on RotatoR, even when grabbing it by one of the disks. It won mostly by RotatoR breaking itself early in the fight and then Petunia controlling it. As for Monsoon, it did impress me early with the damage it did to Red Devil, where if I could find a gif of the hit I’d put it below, but Google isn’t having any of it. But its weapon motor died early in that fight, which is what led to that split decision as Red Devil controlled the fight afterwards.

This fight have the weekly Faruq A+ jokes, and again they’re musical based, as he went with a Little Shop of Horrors bit. But that wasn’t the best part of the intros. That goes to the Monsoon team having a bowl of petunias. Because of course they do. They’re British, they’re facing a robot named Petunia, do you not think they’re going to make the Hitchhiker’s joke?

Monsoon’s first nicks on Petunia’s wedge didn’t seem to do much. But whether it was death by 1000 cuts or hitting the right spot, they then destroyed what amounted to the whole right side/rear of Petunia. Hydraulic fluid was leaking from the crusher bot, rendering its weapon useless. And then to make matters worse, Petunia caught on fire. So clearly things were not going well for the Dutch, considering Reality had lost the previous fight and now Petunia was becoming a burning wreck. But guess what else happened! If you said “Monsoon’s weapon died too,” then you’d be right, as Monsoon could only respond “Oh no, not again.” And while the fire on Petunia grew, Monsoon slowed, and… stopped moving, losing traction on Petunia’s hydraulic fluid, apparently. But Petunia, in addition to being on fire, stopped moving, either due to loss of drive or being high-centered.

I’m not entirely sure what the current policy is during a double KO, when both robots are immobile. I’m guessing if it’s something like they’re both stuck or flipped over (which has happened before) they’d just reset the two robots, but if neither can move (Nightmare’s receiver went on this hit) I believe it goes to a judges’ decision (the TV said it was a KO but Nightmare won 25-20; no I don’t know how it was only 25-20). And we didn’t find out here, because then Monsoon’s receiver or drive or whatever perked back up and it was mobile enough for just Petunia to be counted out. Monsoon survives to win by KO in two minutes.

Captain Shrederator vs. SubZero
Captain Shrederator: 0-1 (L, KO 1:22 to End Game)
SubZero: 0-1 (L, JD 3-0 to HUGE)

If both these robots were to have any solace in their first losses, they were to robots that I would have in the top 16 currently. End Game looks like one of the top bots out there, and HUGE has been a, well, huge surprise. That doesn’t help much, as you fight to win, and nobody wants to drop to 0-2. If there are four fights per robot, you have to figure any 4-0 robot is automatically in, and most if not all robots that go 3-1 are too unless they only fight the dregs of the competition, and all those fights are split decisions or something.

The Captain has a lot of new stuff for this fight, as Nicholas Nave and Team Logicom noted that a lot was wrong with the robot in the first fight, so they basically replaced it all, including the shell, which had some pieces get taken off it admittedly. Also because Nicholas Nave had to catch a flight. Meanwhile SubZero armored up on the back, but then they also decided to bring out their drone, Spitfire, which, uh, spits fire. And that seems a bit counterproductive. Sure, the drone doesn’t weigh much, only a few pounds, but that’s weight you could use for your armor, right?

Most of this armor was in the back, so SubZero started the fight in reverse to box rush the spinner. It almost worked perfectly as they just missed a chance to flip Shrederator, which as we mentioned in the End Game fight can’t self-right (for most full-body spinners the spinning acts as offense and defense as the forces make them nigh impossible to flip; some, like Mega/Gigabyte or the former lightweight Ziggo have an antenna which act as a directional guide and as a way to hopefully bounce right-side up if something happens or they unbalance themselves) so that would’ve been fight over. But instead it was a reversal as the flipper was getting turned over by the spinner. Shrederator actually flipped SubZero twice (it can self-right though) and then took off all that extra back armor of SubZero.

It looked like Captain Shrederator was about to dominate this one as it came for another hit on SubZero, this time the front. And then Newton’s Laws came into effect. Shrederator hit SubZero, hit off a wall, and… dead. Not sure what, could’ve been a receiver, either way Newton’s Third Law reigns supreme and SubZero gets the shock KO in 1:52.

And speaking of Ziggo, I just learned now from the most recent Team Logicom AMA on Reddit that the lightweight robot that upset Ziggo in its first fight in CC Season 5.0, Code: BLACK, was a Team Logicom robot. The irony is that Ziggo was a full-body spinner and lost to a team best-known for their FBS but had an undercutter.

Warrior Dragon vs. Chomp
Debut fights for both robots so I don’t need to post records. Warrior Dragon is best known for losing to a rake in its previous fight. And HyperShock, but mostly the rake. Never forget.

Yes, it’s Warrior Dragon now, but that’s because they’ve given precedence to the drone named Dragon. We’ll see if we get Rakening 2: Electric Yellow Boogaloo later in the season. As for Chomp, we know Chomp.

Chomp: …WELCOME BACK TO CHOMP CHAT, THE TALK SHOW WHERE WE DISCUSS THE MOST IMPORTANT ROBOT ISSUES OF THE DAY. IT’S BEEN A WHILE BUT WE’RE BACK.

Yes, she’s back. And the team’s made some advancements in her lidar tracking, adding a “keep your distance” function so Chomp would remain at a hammer strike’s distance from her opponent. And they added a program to the self-righting function, which was a bit chaotic, and frantic, and a bit like a chicken with its head cut off. The most interesting thing to me about Chomp is how Zoe Stephenson and co. have added more and more autonomy features to Chomp, and normally that’s not something featured in a heavyweight-class robot. In RoboGames there is a 1 lb. autonomous class and a 3 lb. autonomous class. That’s as big as it goes, which is why they won the Founders’ Award in 2016.

The fight began… with the Chomp team asking a kid to work their controlled pulverizer. Not sure why, there team is big enough for someone to control the giant hammer. Then the fight actually started and the flywheel-controlled flipper of Warrior did its job, flipping Chomp over. So even though the center of mass was lowered a little, not quite enough. But that’s okay, because now we can see the technology at work as Chomp can show off the srimech! Where Warrior was patiently waiting after some time to flip them again. Hmm. Well, I think the technology’s hit a snag in its predictability, as it’s still slow and now because it only works in two places (fully front or fully back) the opponent knows where to stand. And it’s a flipper.

So this stalled a fair bit of time, until something malfunctioned and Warrior’s flipper jammed and it stayed in the upright position for the remainder of the fight. Which meant instead of waiting for Chomp to self-right and then flip and repeat the process ad nauseum, Warrior tried to take Chomp to the screws and strand her there.

Finally Chomp could actually strike with her hammer, and got a solid shot in, but would still overturn, leading to the same Warrior tactic to make life and self-righting difficult for Chomp. That was basically the whole fight. Not the most interesting, and it was Warrior Dragon taking it by split decision.

Yes, the split of the decision caused some controversy on the interwebs. This is the interwebs we’re talking about! Some said it was judge’s bias, some said it was “feminism”—yeah, it’s the interwebs, damn interwebs. I’ll admit, I have a tough time scoring this one for Chomp, but I’m guessing here that the weapon malfunctioning plus the hit Chomp had that definitely slowed Warrior’s spinner could have given it the two damage points, and Warrior’s stalling and waiting didn’t count as enough aggression in that judge’s eyes? I respectfully disagree as as a result of being flipped I don’t think Chomp could show much aggression and the damage to Warrior Dragon’s flipper was self-inflicted, and I don’t know or couldn’t clearly see if or whether Warrior’s spinner took damage from the hammer strike of Chomp—if so that is a legitimate hit so you can argue giving both damage points to Chomp. But I think I’d score it 4-1 for Warrior Dragon (strategy, control, aggression, split damage). But that’s my guess.

Bonus fight: Valkyrie vs. Predator vs. Bale Spear
Valkyrie: 0-1 (L, ?)
Predator: 0-1 (L, ?)
Bale Spear: 0-1 (L, JD with Parallax to Double Dutch and Basilisk?)

Another bonus rumble, this one with three robots making their debuts. Valkyrie is from the team that built alternate Road Rash, the robot with a tire for armor. Yes, a tire. It was the fourth robot of the MIT split, the one we only got to saw via bonus rumble. It has a large horizontal disk at the bottom. Bale Spear may be one of the more interesting robots there, in terms of its weapon seeming to be from a simpler age, where armor was light and a harpoon-type weapon could actually do something. I’m a bit skeptical. Predator is a grappler with what looks like to be a big jaw. In terms of looks it reminds me a bit of Spectre, the robot I mentioned earlier as the current crown prince of crushers thanks to its King of Bots championship (spoilers, I guess), except Predator has less power, I assume. Definitely less bite pressure.

All three fought in non-televised matches “that didn’t go so well for them,” according to Chris Rose, as all three of them were listed as 0-1. Hopefully the unaired fights will make Youtube, or something so we get some knowledge of what happened. Because we want to know. This Jurassic World commercial is believed to be some one of those unaired fights, a potential tag-team battle between what looks like Bale Spear and I’m guessing Parallax taking on Double Dutch and Basilisk. So if that was indeed one of the fights that answers one question. Too bad a T-Rex destroyed Bale Spear and Basilisk, but that should have still left it between Parallax and Basilisk… yes I know the video was CGI’d. I’m assuming Double Dutch and Basilisk won that fight though, and since two bots would need to be out I’m assuming judges’ decision?

Bale Spear interestingly went with a fist where their spear would be and large metal wheels where their front tires should be—they called the wheel configuration “Amish Mode.” Fuck it, okay. It started the fight off as it was the one to charge Valkyrie, instead of Predator or… wait, where is Predator anyway?

Yeah, Predator was dead from the get-go. Something about Craig and Chris Danby’s robots, they know how to fail. Like this from their Robot Wars bot Apex. (Also on that team, Jack Tweedy from Vanquish.)

So it was down to Valkyrie and Bale Spear, so I guess Bale Spear charging Valkyrie was a decent idea. Except for the bit where Valkyrie quickly removed both of those front wheels of Bale Spear. Well, the first wheel was quick. the second one took a little longer. But the two-wheeled Bale Spear kept charging, so good on them.

Valkyrie’s disk, this model named Dr. Teeth by captain Leanne Cushing, kept spinning and started working on the back two wheels. One of the tires was already flat, but Bale Spear kept driving through it. But Valkyrie took those two tires one by one, leaving just the wheel hubs. And the wheel hubs don’t have any traction to provide movement. It’s Valkyrie who wins this rumble by KO in 1:54.

Main event: Bronco vs. Bombshell
Bronco: 0-0
Bombshell: 0-1 (L, KO 1:53 to Lock-Jaw)

About time we saw Bronco, the robot best known for this.

Or here’s the whole fight, if the gif doesn’t work because Imgur is a fickle mistress.

This is from two seasons ago. Last season it was bouncing robots (like Blacksmith) off the Lexan walls with regularity. And they say the flipper’s at least 30% stronger than that.

Meanwhile, Bombshell had a tough time with its first fight of this season in its new look. The vertical disk didn’t work which led to them getting flipped over by Lock-Jaw and unable to self-right. And this happened twice but Lock-Jaw let them up the first time.

For this fight Bronco had special “ski-tipped” armor to try and keep the vertical disk of Bombshell at bay. I don’t know if they really needed it because it seemed Bombshell wasn’t at 100%… but you can watch the fight via a Bronco-eye view in this week’s botcam video.

After a couple of snipes by Bombshell to Bronco’s side, nearly overturning it Bronco was able to flip Bombshell (though I think it was more the force of the robots, the arm seemed to fire late). And with Bombshell overturned and the disk not quite being at 100% I think, because there was a moment where Bombshell was disk down and unable to do anything to get back up, Bronco could finish it, with one flip basically just missing, a second bouncing Bombshell off the corner of the Lexan and back in play, and the third (where the feed cuts out) taking Bombshell over the wall, and therefore out of the fight. The Inertia Labs “return to the starting square” victory move returns, as it’s Bronco by ring-out in 1:19.


So that does it for this week’s Beat, and I’m glad to say that a couple of the fights are making its way onto the BattleBots social media pages (and I’m sure you can find them via other means if you want, or you could just stream episodes on either the Discovery or the Science Channel sites). In addition to the Bronco botcam, the SawBlaze–Reality fight found its way onto at least the Facebook page, so you can watch the entire fight there. The main event is the former champ Bite Force taking on the upstart End Game, the winner all but assured a spot in the knockout tournament. Until then… there’s soccer, I guess? Not as much carnage, though. Unless Luis Suarez bites somebody again.

Senor Weaselo
Senor Weaselo
Senor Weaselo plays the violin. He tucks it right under his chin. When he isn't doing that, he enjoys watching his teams (Yankees, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers), trying to ingest enough capsaicin to make himself breathe fire (it hasn't happened yet), and scheming to acquire the Bryant Park zamboni.
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Rikki-Tikki-DeadlySenor Weaseloballsofsteelandfury Recent comment authors
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Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

Also from the sound of the controversy, it sounds like Chomp was actually the winner?

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

Just watched it now. Crazy that even one judge ruled for Chomp.

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

Please tell me the pot of petunias had “Oh no, not again” written on the side of it.

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

Okay I see this joke was also made inside the post so clearly I jumped the gun here.

ballsofsteelandfury

Are there any stabbers? You know, like the Sybian where an opponent is poked with brute force? Asking for a friend…

R. Lewis