In the world of competitive robotics, there is nothing quite like robot combat. It's a sport where two autonomous machines go head-to-head in a cage until one of them can no longer continue. They are strategic and tactical, fast-paced and violent. And if you're reading this, it's because you want to get involved. But before you do that, you might have some questions. When did competitive robot combat become a thing? How does it work? What kind of robots are used? Where do I sign up?! If so, excellent! You've come to the right place. In this beginner's guide to robot combat, we'll cover everything you need to know about getting started with robot fighting competitions. Let's dive in.
What is Robot Combat?
Robot combat is the act of pitting two autonomous robots against each other. There are many different types of robot combat, but they all share two things in common: They feature robots fighting in a ring/arena and involve destroying one or both of the competitors.
Robot combat is one of the oldest forms of robot sports. The first fighting event of this type took place in 1974, organized by the magazine “Electronics” editors. Since then, it has grown into a vast sport with multiple styles and generations of machines.
Why Does Robot Fighting Exist?
Only some people who compete in robot fighting events are interested in winning. But if you're reading this, chances are you are. So why do people build these machines and compete with them?
There are some reasons you might want to get into robot combat: Robot fighting can be a great form of stress release or a perfect excuse to blow off steam. It can also be a way to relieve anxiety, improve hand-eye coordination, or hone other valuable skills.
It can teach you how to work under pressure, design and engineer solutions to problems, and build and maintain autonomous machines. It's a great hobby and one that can be done alone or with a team.
How Does Robot Combat Work?
There are many different types of robot combat. However, most share a similar format: Two autonomous machines are placed in a ring/arena. They are then instructed to fight until one cannot continue and is “knocked out,” followed by a “judgment” period, where the judges decide on a winner. When it comes to scoring, it's largely dependent on the type of combat you're in.
The specifics of each kind of robot combat are different. However, most of them feature a set of rules, a description of the ring, and a list of “disqualifications” for what can get you kicked out of the competition. For example, in the Roaming Robots Extreme Robots combat league, the rules state that a robot must be able to fit inside a cube measuring 50 centimeters on each side. It also cannot have any projectiles that can pierce the arena wall or be thrown through it.
Robot Combat Ruleset
Robot combat is an exciting event, especially if you are participating in the competition. Before joining the competition, you need to know the robot combat ruleset to understand how to win and prevent committing many violations in the process. Here are the general rules:
- All participants must understand the risk of building and operating their robots. Robot combat units are a dangerous technology. It is essential that all participants must take care of themselves and not hurt themselves and others involved in the competition.
- Make sure that the design and build of your robot follow the category limits and do not go beyond the borderline. It is always best to stay with safe innovations. Otherwise, it might cause you a disqualification from the event.
- All participants must follow all the event rules and procedures. Participants must also avoid constant policing.
- Every robot combat competition has safety inspections. They will decide whether your robot can proceed with the competition or not. As a participant, you need to disclose all the potential dangers and operating principles to the safety inspection staff. If you fail to comply with the rules and procedures of the robot combat event, it might cause expulsion, injury, and death.
- Radios for controlling robots can be turned on for any purpose but must not obtain the frequency clip from the event.
- The activation and deactivation of the robots are crucial. Competing robots should only be activated when they are inside the arena, at testing sites, or with the expressed consent of the event safety officials and organizers.
- All participating robots must not be activated, which includes the power to operate how to move and its weaponry by a manual disconnect within 60 seconds.
- Those robots not in the arena or the official testing sites must be blocked so they cannot move. This rule prevents the robot from causing any danger if they become a runaway bot.
- As a participant, you need locking devices for your robot. The moving weapons can be dangerous, which is why it needs a visible locking device. It must have a neon orange painting or any other high-visibility color. The locking device for every robot must have the ability to stop and arrest runaway bots that can cause harmful motion from their weapons.
- The weapon locking pins must be in their proper location during the operation of its weapon power during the robot's power-on procedure. Regardless of the weight class or power source, it must include all powered weapons.
- All participants must follow all the essential safety protocols when working with their robots in their pit stations. Every team member must be aware of their surroundings to prevent danger.
Robots Used in Competitions
There are many different kinds of robots used in combat. However, most are autonomous machines that are built to defeat other robots. Some robots are built for speed, others for strength. Some are made for power, and others for strategy. If you want your robot to succeed, you need to consider which categories you want it to fall into.
There are also different “weight classes” of robots. These are categories based on a robot's weight, with “heavyweight” being the heaviest and “lightweight” is the lightest. Robots are generally weighed before each match, and the two competitors are weighed and compared to see who can lift the most.
Where to Find Robot Fighting Competitions
The best way to find robot fighting competitions is to Google it. Seriously, there are tons of groups and organizations hosting robot combat events. You can also check out sites like Reddit and Facebook for groups related to robot combat. These are usually good places to start when looking for competitions and local groups.
Some of the biggest and most well-known combat competitions include BattleBots, RoboGames, and the aforementioned Roaming Robots. There are also a bunch of smaller, less prominent competitions that are worth checking out if you want more local events.
Betting on Robot Combat
Almost all types of robot combat involve some betting, which helps cover the event's cost and can also be a great source of income for the organizers. Most types of robot combat include some form of “odds” placed on competitors. This can be done manually or with a computer betting system.
Before you start betting on who you think will win each match, you need to know a few things: The weight of each robot, the type of fight (such as “last robot standing” or “until one robot is knocked out”), and who you think will win. You also need to be aware of any limitations or rules on how you can bet. This bet can vary from type of competition to kind of competition.
Is Robot Combat Legal?
The legality of a robot combat event depends on the type of competition you're in. Certain types of robot combat are considered illegal and are often seen as public nuisances. In the United States, for example, the Remotely Controlled Materially Destructive Devices Act (RCMDDA) prohibits using “offensive weaponry” in public places, which includes things like firearms, blades, and other destructive items.
Robot combat competitions that involve these items are not considered legal under the RCMDDA. However, many organizations have developed state-specific compliance rules for combat robots. These rules are designed to make sure the robots meet all local and state-level safety requirements.
Betting and Winning on Robot Combat
This guide has provided you with everything you need to get started with competitive robot combat. You now know what robot fighting is, why it exists, how it works, and what types of robots are generally used. You've also been introduced to some of the most popular types of robot combat and some of the best places to find competitions near you. However, this only touches the surface of the world of robot combat.
There are many types of competitions, strategies, and robots. Robot combat is an ever-growing sport with a complex and detailed history. This guide will be a good starting point if you're interested in getting involved and learning more. You can do more research about how to make your robot more effective in competitions while abiding by the rules of the event.