back to article El Reg mulls entering Robot Wars arena

The news this week that the BBC is to reboot its celebrated robo-deathmatch series Robot Wars prompted much comment from our beloved readers, and amid the excitement, Sleepypete posed the provocative question: "Anyone else hoping that SPB turn their talents to making an all conquering, all destroying, punyhuman enslaving …

  1. Peter Kavanagh.
    Unhappy

    Deadline

    March? Damn - my son was looking to put together a team at school to enter. Seems pretty short notice, presumably they have been in contact with the robot teams that still tour the UK.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Deadline

      Our assumption is that they must have already contacted existing teams. It is very short notice otherwise.

      1. Necronomnomnomicon

        Re: Deadline

        From what I understand, there's been a company touring Robot Wars show since the BBC version went off air (maybe under a different name?), so it might be that this is the touring one on telly, rather than an all new setup.

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: Deadline

          Yeah they have been touring a Robot Wars-esque show. However I think a lot of the robots from the TV series (Chaos 2, Hypnodisc etc) do the tour, so it will probably be them looking to start this new series.

          But March you say? You could build something in 6 weeks. It'd be like Rocky facing Apollo Creed, only this time Rocky wins.

          1. goldfish

            Re: Deadline

            I think it would be more likely to be Rocky vs Terminator 2 --- guess who wins

        2. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

          Re: Re: Deadline

          Ah, that makes sense.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Deadline

            >Our assumption is that they must have already contacted existing teams. It is very short notice otherwise.

            @Lester Haines

            I've emailed you a link to the production company's website that has an email address and telephone number for more information.

            1. wolfetone Silver badge

              Re: Deadline

              I've just received the rules about the robots, I think it's fairly standard. There doesn't seem to be anything listed on it that is different to the robots seen years ago. The application form has place for "photos of the robot" and a YouTube link. So I don't know whether they only want robots that are already pre-built to attend or robots that are on the drawing board are allowed to enter.

              1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

                Drawing board

                If they are only on the drawing board, it'd be a bit of a push to have them ready in time.

            2. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

              Re: Re: Deadline

              Thanks - I already spoke to them, and they said it kicks off in early March. That's why it's too late to get something together from scratch.

              1. Dave 126 Silver badge

                Re: Deadline

                Perhaps they are just using the first series of this new run to raise awareness of it to would-be competitors.

                If so, one can expect more competitors and variety in Robot Wars Reboot Series 2.

                What do we know? From BBC Media Centre:

                - More robots and teams than original series

                - Use of new technology - Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, 3D printing, cheap sensors, small cameras etc

                - Educational

                - Still includes "crushing, sawing and scorching"

                - http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2016/robot-wars-returns

                One can assume that the use of new technologies (one can order quickly order custom parts by emailing a CAD file, schools and 'maker groups' have 3D printers) lowers the bar of entry, thus allowing more teams to compete.

              2. Dave 126 Silver badge

                Re: Deadline

                > it's too late to get something together from scratch.

                What would B. A. Baracus think of that defeatist attitude? He could construct a winning robot in a single afternoon, whilst trapped in cave with nothing but a oxy-acetylene torch and some junk. For shame....

                :)

                1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
                  Headmaster

                  Re: Deadline

                  @Dave 126

                  You're confusing "The A-Team" with "McGuyver"

              3. Nick Ryan Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: Deadline

                Thanks - I already spoke to them, and they said it kicks off in early March. That's why it's too late to get something together from scratch.

                That's not an insurmountable problem. El Reg should just call on the services of Captain Cyborg, arm him with a variety of plastic spoons and perhaps a tooth-pick or two if we're feeling generous and drop him into the arena. Possibly from a great height?.

                It's a win-win situation.

                1. wolfetone Silver badge

                  Re: Deadline

                  I've applied, found an old design I did in 15 years ago and rehashed it. Stuck some clever stuff on the design. I don't have a robot built, far from it, and so far I have the outline of a machine I drew in GIMP.

                  I've added it to the application, although it says "Photos of Robot" and "YouTube link of Robot", so I suspect they are looking for pre-built machines. But, I think with the clever items I've added to the machine I could be given the chance to build it.

                  Highly doubt it, but at least I'll have time to build it properly for Series 2.

            3. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. VinceH Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: Deadline

        "It is very short notice otherwise."

        On the upside, the short notice could be a benefit: It being too late to sensibly enter this time means you have more time to see what sort of standards are set by those taking part in the first series.

      3. sena.akada

        Re: Deadline

        Just wrap a staff member in tinfoil, arm him or her with a tin opener, and let the NHS worry about the rest. Job done.

    2. MyffyW Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Spaced - T.F.U.

      I suspect I'd be crap at building a robot but I'd love to do a tribute to Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes Robot Wars:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkZoPBO7i2A

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Spaced - T.F.U.

        Plan and design? Thats management talk. Just give a deadline, free doughnuts and it will be sorted. Sort of. Juat dont reboot it.

  2. 0laf Silver badge

    Well what worked best before?

    No point in reinventing the wheel?

    Also what are the new rules?

    A thorough examination of old matches should give you an idea. Bots with stabby, hammery weapons never did so well. If was always the flipping machines that worked best (hypnodisc being an exeception that that rule).

    Maybe if the floor is metal you could build in an electomagnet to nail yourself to the floor to stop your bot being flipped.

    1. Elfo74

      Re: Well what worked best before?

      This looks good :)

      https://xkcd.com/689/

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Well what worked best before?

        That's one of the very few XKCD strips that confuses me... viewing it again in the context of a 'Robot Wars' style competition, it makes a little bit more sense - but I still feel that I'm missing something. Was it drawn in reference to some US TV Robot Soccer event?

        So, the robot uses the sprinkler system to disable those things that look like cherry-picker platforms, and then it is pushing two footballs? I can't tell!

        1. richardcox13

          Re: Well what worked best before?

          > That's one of the very few XKCD strips that confuses me

          http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/689:_FIRST_Design

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Well what worked best before?

            Ah, that explains it! 'FIRST Design' is a design for the FIRST Robotics Competition... my brain read it as 'First Design' (as in v.0.1 or whatever) and so I was trying to read it as a commentary about actually making the very first you sketch on the back of a beermat.

            Thank you richardcox13 :)

    2. Joe Montana

      Re: Well what worked best before?

      I always found flipping robots to be boring, and once robots gained the ability to turn back over or run upside down a flipper becomes somewhat useless.

      I preferred the robots which did serious damage, hypnodisc being probably the best example. Makes for great tv, but obviously becomes expensive for competitors if their robots get completely destroyed.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Well what worked best before?

        use vacuum tubes as control gear and put an EMP or HERF gun in there. Then drag the dead robots around at your leisure.

  3. SolidSquid

    I understand the Mythbusters crew were asked to leave the American tournaments twice because their spinning wok with blades welded on threw so much shrapnel around, seems that would be a good starting point?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      The production company are boasting of a "purpose built, literally bullet-proof arena" in Glasgow, so maybe the new rules won't be quite so constrained by safety concerns.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Trollface

        "purpose built, literally bullet-proof arena"

        Sounds like a challenge to me...

        1. ElectricFox
          Joke

          "purpose built, literally bullet-proof arena in Glasgow"

          So it's probably safer inside the arena than outside whenever Celtic play Rangers....

  4. TRT Silver badge

    I can safely predict...

    That it will involve much beer and pipe.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Make sure to have on-board sensors. The flipper with the camera to aim with did excellently, lego now does some very good sensor suites that can complement an on board camera or six.

    Also nitrous, just because.

  6. Paul Woodhouse

    easy... just use some sort of drone with some soft of liquid squirter, fly above the other robots and get their main PCB's pissed wet through...

    would that be cheating though?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >would that be cheating though?

      That attack method would be easy to defend against... just pot the PCBs in epoxy or silicone conform spray.

      The thing about an arms is race... etc etc

      1. Flatpackhamster

        Acid.

        A really strong acid spray sounds like an idea weapon. And it should get around any tedious rules about no projectile weapons. AND - the arena might be bulletproof, but is it acid proof? Time will tell.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Acid.

          Last I checked (which admittedly was a long time ago), tethered projectiles were acceptable. Unfortunately corrosives or other liquids weren't, nor were flame throwers (the house robots are built to different rules).

  7. Whitter
    Happy

    Biting the hand that feeds IT

    Given El Reg's tagline, some form of chomping device seems a must?

  8. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Draw inspiration from the BOFH...

    1. Philip Storry

      And from the website The Register, their entry is...

      LIFTSHAFT!

      Wait. This plan may not work as well as we'd hoped...

      1. Chika

        Oh, I don't know. The Liftshaft did have its analogue in RW of old. They simply referred to it as the Pit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          One robot was specifically designed to be able to get out of the pit.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      I suppose bundling your opponent up in a roll of old carpet would count as immobilising them?

    3. TitterYeNot

      "Draw inspiration from the BOFH..."

      Ooooh yes, a robot with a kiloVolt cattle prod - what could be better?

      Hmmm. <Thinks> A robot with a megaVolt cattle prod....

    4. Woza

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/01/bofh_2010_episode_11/ ?

    5. bpfh Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Draw inspiration from the BOFH...

      EMP generator, rifle shooting frozen paintballs, taser and cattleprod to go full bzeeeerrt, ex-lax in the opposing team's food the night before... the possibilities are endless...

    6. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      ...nuclear powered EMP then?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Multi-cannon...

        If against a petrol engined opponent, launches a cloud of air-filter clogging particles.

        Against an electrically powered opponent, a web of sticky Kevlar fibres shot into the wheel housings.

        Or a stinger-like device that could penetrate the outer shell and fill the interior with expanding builder's foam.

  9. John Robson Silver badge

    Depends on the rules...

    There used to be different weight limits for power sources.

    Best of the earlier series from my memory:

    Casius (the original flipper IIRC)

    Razor (ridiculously damaging claw)

    Hypnodisc (Deciding that power wasn't everthing if you can build some energy in a weapon)

    Before HD came out I had started to settle on a chinook style hypnodisc-esque weapons system because building energy in a flywheel was always the most obvious way to inflict damage.

    1. Chika

      Re: Depends on the rules...

      My biggest hope is that it doesn't descend to the level of that boring pushbot Tornado.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Depends on the rules...

        You don't remember the robot (can't remember the name) which was essentially a paper mache ball with a toy RC car inside it.

        That's probably from the first series, it was never seen again.

        1. Gordon Lawrie

          Re: Depends on the rules...

          I think you're thinking of Psychosprout.

          1. wolfetone Silver badge

            Re: Depends on the rules...

            "I think you're thinking of Psychosprout."

            Yep that's the badger. I'm glad to see it's made a career in acting though. Wonder how much weight it had to loose to play BB8?

        2. dcathjlmif

          Re: Depends on the rules...

          I saw it very recently it was call BB8 now

  10. chivo243 Silver badge
    Go

    Bring it On

    I for one, really missed robot wars, I was a big fan. I wonder if I can find the plans I drew up back then?

    Are cattle prods or tasers legal in RW?

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Bring it On

      No electric/electronic disablers, radio jammers, etc, allowed, so our cunning EMP generator plan stays on the drawing board.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bring it On

        Does that count a system to pinpoint the source of the robot's RF emissions and target it with a claw hammer?

        1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

          Re: Re: Bring it On

          I had a look, and there's no mention of RF seek locate and destroy weapons.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Bring it On

            I'll hit Google Scholar at lunchtime and see what's available.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Bring it On

              I'm unsure whether a directional RF antenna can be realistically made small enough to locate the RF source within something as small as a Robot Wars robot but looking at things like RF Source Seeking drones suggest that with a dish antenna all you have to do is wave them at the source until the signal is strongest and Target Acquired.

              Not sure how practical this would be but smashing the radio with a spike is not E-Warfare.

          2. DropBear Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Bring it On

            Hmmm, perhaps a Faraday-net thrower then...?

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: Bring it On

              I've gone through the rules, and I can't see anything that precludes Sonic Resonance Weapons - the damage wouldn't be invisible (see the rules) is one can see the target robot being shaken apart!

              Maud'Dib!

  11. Locky Silver badge

    And in the red corner

    The El Reg "Cattle Prod"

    /cue flashing lights and Eye of the Tiger theme music...

    1. Chika

      Re: And in the red corner

      Ummm....

      They aren't having the Plunderbird folk back, are they? >.<

  12. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    What?

    No nuclear category?

  13. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Boffin

    A no-brainer, Shirley?

    Razor sharp, and with that beak.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: A no-brainer, Shirley?

      Yep, I was going to suggest the El Reg vulture head, cast from titanium, with a sharpened beak, powered by hydraulics much like the original Razor, and then possibly a flipper / self-righter as a secondary weapon.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: A no-brainer, Shirley?

        Umm.

        Put an two state solenoid at the base of the neck. Stabber rotates to become flipper. Might need some tweaking of the mounting arm, but it would work.

      2. WatAWorld

        Re: A no-brainer, Shirley?

        Nest shapped, with tow vulture heads sticking out. A vulture head on side as the pecker weapon, and a vulture head on the other side as the flipper weapon.

  14. moiety

    Would an electromagnet count as an electric/electronic disabler? If you can get the opposing robot off it's wheels/tentacles/whatever, you can take your time destroying it.

    Alternatively, a built-in plasma torch would be fun.

    And is there anything in the rules about having to stay on the ground? Helium/drone assist with some sort of thermite packet dropper would be both incredibly dangerous and thorougly satisfying.

    1. GregC
      Thumb Up

      built-in plasma torch

      thermite packet dropper

      /me nods with approval.

      From a distance.

      1. moiety

        While I'm on evil plans, there is possibly something that could be done with abrasive water jets. You'd have to check the audience shielding very carefully and get the range exactly right; but having their machine sliced in half on the starting line would be dispiriting for an opponent.

        Slicing an audience in half and having to pay for a replacement studio would be quite dispiriting for you, however, so careful testing would be in order.

        1. bpfh Silver badge

          Got a point there...

          What about one of those water slug firing shotguns the army have on their bomb disposal robots to disable electronics packages?

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Got a point there...

            >What about one of those water slug firing shotguns the army have on their bomb disposal robots to disable electronics packages?

            It seems the accepted jargon for that is "Projected Water Disruptor"

            - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bomb_disposal#Projected_water_disruptors

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Got a point there...

              Yes, there is a rule against flying 'bots. But not hover-cushions, not that you'd really want that in a pushing contest.

              You are also not allowed projectile weapons - they must be tethered. And you can't have e.g. grinding discs that can shatter.

              1. Dave 126 Silver badge

                Re: Got a point there...

                >Would an electromagnet count as an electric/electronic disabler?

                And the enemy team unsportingly uses plate aluminium or austenitic stainless steel, the bounders!

              2. moiety

                Re: Got a point there...

                You are also not allowed projectile weapons

                Damn! There goes my plan to lob capacitors over the barrier to taze the opposing team with. S'pose you're going to tell me there's a rule against decapitation strikes, as well. Hmmph. *grumbles*

              3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Got a point there...

                "You are also not allowed projectile weapons - they must be tethered."

                Like a Tazer(tm)

      2. BongoJoe

        I am all for a form of thermite reaction. It would be good if this could be made in combination with a sticky bomb.

        So a combination of speed to get in, clag onto the side, run and then ignite...

        1. Esme

          shaped-charge limpet mine!

          I don;t think projectile weapons were allowed in RW, but it might be worth seeing whether shaped-charge limpet mines are allowed - ram into target, deploy limpet with a fuse with a few seconds fuse.

  15. AndyS

    I always thought lifting the opponent up and holding them there was the best method (and one that at least two of the house robots used). Since there is a weight limit it would be difficult to do this "in front" but why not build a U-shaped robot (you could even hinge it like a giant pincer) to get around a lift up the opponent. Then you can take your time with a drill, and angle grinder, a hydraulic cutter, or whatever you feel like.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Headmaster

      The slight flaw in the plan could be that just picking the opponent up could maybe do little to stop them still bashing twelve shades of circuitry out of you whilst up there, if they had suitable weaponry in the right orientation. Indeed it could help them, as whilst they can't move relative to you, the reverse is also true.

      As my cat reminded me last night when I tried to get him out of the lounge so i could go to bed, just being able to hold something up doesn't mean your arms (or even the rest of you, if reach is sufficient) suddenly become immune to attack...

  16. Christoph Silver badge
    Trollface

    The other robots are bound to have security bugs. Include a transmitter to hack into their systems and take them over.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Are they sure to have security flaws?

      I'd have thought that existing competitive RC leagues ( cars, planes etc) would have ironed out those kind of issues.

      The production company is likely to fit Go-Pro cameras to competing robots (to make things more 'immersive' for the viewer at home), and will take a dim view of anyone messing with them.

      1. Christoph Silver badge

        I think it's pretty certain they will have flaws. The developers will be concentrating on software for them to work well, not on security checks. This happens in all sorts of other fields (including medical!), I don't see any reason these robots should be different.

        1. Alister Silver badge

          What makes you think the new robots will employ any software? They're most likely to be overgrown R/C cars like the previous lot.

  17. Hope Spirals
    Mushroom

    Use of weapons

    It should be constructed from the bones of long dead robots.

    We don't want to fanny about tripping things up or giving it a shove; no lets go for a meaty weapon and a proper delivery system.

    Bangalore torpedo

    Kamikazee slave bots

    Dad's Army sticky bomb

    BTW I like the idea of magnetically anchoring to the floor.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Surface Detail

      meaning, are the floors ferrous?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Against a Dark Background

        Or indeed, are the floors painted black?

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Against a Dark Background

          +1 for the sneaky IMB reference

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            The Player of Games

            >+1 for the sneaky IMB reference

            Thank you, but it was Hope Spirals who started it!

          2. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Against a Dark Background

            The floors are mostly, IIRC, plywood on an aluminium box-section underframe that can be dismantled easily and allows access to the flame grids and modular trap units (flippers, pits, spikes etc).

  18. Bill Fresher

    Launch the frigging space plane first.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Now, now -- they have explained that while TPTB are still debating as to whether they will pull thier collective fingers out and actually do something, there is a certain amount of twiddling of fingers.

      If there is a suitable distraction for the team it may prevent them from deciding to go through the entire list of post-pub grub -- which, though it may make them seem more American, is not suitable for the Spanish hills.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        This could be a win win situation.

        Why not use Robot Wars as a cover for developing an FAA-mangler? You could call it the FwAhAha, or some such. That way LOHAN gets a green (with some unavoidable splashes of dark red) light and the population stays happy coz gogglebox. Are you not entertained?

        Reach for the stars!

    2. Peter Simpson 1
      Happy

      Launch the frigging space plane first.

      I can wait...the tankard's refillable :-)

  19. Tromos

    Carri on fighting

    To fit in with the Reg logo, a bot that stays on a high perch off to one side and then swoops down to pick over the remains of the others after the battle is over.

    1. WatAWorld

      Re: Carri on fighting

      Good idea for a house robot. Maybe they'd let The Reg provide a house robot.

  20. AntiSol

    OMG YES! Do that! Where do I send my money?

    I quite like the idea of one which can fly and bring death from above without ever being touched. If it also looked like a vulture, bonus.

  21. chivo243 Silver badge

    best feature

    Bottom heavy, and a dome shaped top, gets turned over, gravity rights it...

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: best feature

      I'm sure the turtle may have something to say on that front?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: best feature

      I knew a girl like that once

  22. BongoJoe
    Mushroom

    My name is Sparticus

    How about something with two massive arms that can hold a very strong net which gathers the opponent up. Than then, like a bloody massive flail, bashes the netted robot into the ground repeatedly.

    Using the other robot to bash itself is better than using a hammer on your own robot.

    1. Roq D. Kasba

      Re: My name is Sparticus

      I like this, engineering to the letter if not spirit of the competition.

      Similarly, I have a design for a robot that bribes judges.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I seem to recall one called RaZor

    A wedge design with a powerful jaw that bit chunks out of opposing robots. The bashing, stabbing and cutting ones make an exciting mess but generally did't win.

    I await the self aware vulture killer robot tank and the end of civilisation as we know it - and I certainly dont expect agreement on its prime directive...

    Mind you, all El reg needsto do is to find a nuclear powered robot tank, loaded with drills and Frikkin lasers, quick trip to Mars could sort it without a tiresome design and 3d printed titanum superstructure...!

  24. Bbbbit

    Web of Death

    I always thought there was scope for some kind of monofilament-type web/net thing that would tangled the opponent, get into all their bits thus immobilising them prior to drag/push into the pit. The tanglebot would need good weight & traction to leverage the advantage.

    Don't get me wrong,I prefer massive f*ckoff hammers but there is always a balance between art and practicality that has to be made.

    As far as the Vulturetron droid goes, I'd speak to those Razor chaps; their hydraulic beak was hardcore.

    Given this is 2016 is there any way DevOps or T-shaped Developers can help?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Web of Death

      It sounds like you too have used a small RC helicopter to remove cobwebs from a high ceiling!

      But yeah, get some diamond dust abrasive wire around your enemies axles, and let them damage themselves using their own motors and batteries.

    2. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Web of Death

      Here are the weapons restrictions, according to the rules:

      The following weapons and materials are forbidden from use: Note: Some of the listed items may be allowed for effects but not as weapons. If you have an application of these items which you feel should be allowed, please include this in your application.

      12.1 Active Weapons

      All robots must incorporate an active offensive weapon which is designed to damage, immobilise or seriously affect the operation of the opponent’s robot. Weapon specifications must be included on your application form for approval.

      12.2 Invisible Damage

      Weapons designed to cause invisible damage to the other robot. This includes but is not limited to:

      12.2.1 Electricity

      Electricity as a weapon such as Tesla coils, Van-der-Graaf generators, stun guns, or cattle prods.

      12.2.2 Radio Frequency

      Radio Frequency jamming equipment or similar devices.

      12.2.3 Radio Frequency Noise

      Radio Frequency noise generated by an IC engine. Use shielding around sparking components.

      12.2.4 Electromagnetic Fields

      Electromagnetic fields from permanent or electromagnets, which affect another robots electronics.

      12.3 Stopping Combat

      Weapons or defences, which tend to stop combat completely, of both (or more) robots. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

      12.3.1 Entanglement

      Entanglement devices such as nets, fishing line, cables, string, glues or tapes and any similar devices.

      12.4 Rotating Weapons

      The speed of any rotating weapons - e.g. circular saws, carbon or steel cutting discs - must not exceed the manufacturer's specification. The manufacturer's specification must be available for inspection.

      12.5 Hardened Blades

      Commercially manufactured, hardened steel blades that may shatter are not allowed.

      12.6 Untethered Projectiles

      Projectiles must have a tether capable of stopping the projectile at full speed and be no longer than 2.5m.

      12.7 Heat and Fire

      Heat and fire are forbidden as weapons. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

      12.7.1 Generated

      Heat specifically generated to damage an opponent

      12.7.2 Flammables

      Flammable liquids or gases

      12.7.3 Explosives

      Explosives or flammable solids such as DOT Class C devices, Gunpowder, Cartridge Primers or Military

      Explosives, etc.

      12.8 Smoke and Light

      Smoke and light based weapons, which impair the viewing of robots by an Entrant, Judge, Official or Viewer. This includes, but is not limited to the following:

      12.8.1 Smoke or Dust

      Large quantities of smoke or dust. Limited smoke effects may be allowed.

      12.8.2 Lights

      Lights such as external lasers and bright strobe lights, which may blind the opponent.

      12.9 Hazardous Materials

      Hazardous or dangerous materials are forbidden from use anywhere on a robot where they may contact humans, or by way of the robot being damaged (within reason) contact humans. If unsure please contact Robot Wars.

      12.10 Weapon Restraints

      All high speed weapons (eg. all pneumatic and rotational weapons) must incorporate a secure restraint that locks the weapon in a safe position. The restraint may incorporate locking pins and bars but must be secured in such a way that it cannot be removed inadvertently. The design should ensure that the weapon cannot be fired during the activation process.

      12.11 Interchangeable Weapons

      Robots with interchangeable weapons are permitted under the following conditions.

      12.11.1 Weapon Type

      All interchangeable weapons must comply with rule 12.1

      12.11.2 Weapon Application

      All interchangeable weapons must be submitted on the Robot Wars application and are subject to approval.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Web of Death

        So that just about excludes anything except a tickling stick, aka. feather duster

      2. DropBear Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Web of Death

        Hmmm, I don't see anything in there about... non-flammable liquids. Are these bots actually watertight...? I'm not sure the electronics would like that. Dual-wielded Super Soakers, anyone...?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Web of Death

          >Dual-wielded Super Soakers, anyone...?

          That's so easy to defend against:

          http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/conformal-coatings/0494714/

          And also, the water-weapon approach might fall foul of rule 12.3 "Stopping Combat"

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Web of Death

            The rule reads "12.3 Stopping Combat

            Weapons or defences, which tend to stop combat completely, of both (or more) robots. This includes, but is not limited to the following:"

            i.e. Suicide devices. BOTH robots.

      3. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Web of Death

        Rats... no explosives. The rules take the fun out of everything.

      4. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Web of Death

        They didn't mention vibrations... (could be visible)

        Grab hold a robot and proceed to blast it with a variable range of vibration frequencies until you find the one that causes it the most problems. Then lock onto that one and turn up the power...

        OK, there's the possibly downside that you come across a really well built robot or you shake your own robot to pieces, but, whatever!

      5. WatAWorld

        Re: Web of Death

        I think I've found a loophole.

        The way I read it, it is okay if I use a miniature black hole, provided I'm not spiraling hydrogen into it at light speed so as to generate offensive cosmic rays.

  25. Aaiieeee

    Take advantage of modern sensor accuracy

    e.g. for a flipping bot don't attempt to waste power or time flipping the opponent unless its sure to succeed (by confirming the flipper is actually under the opponent) etc.

    Or having a camera to check distances and have our bot always stay just out of range of their weapon until the right time to strike

    1. Thecowking

      Re: Take advantage of modern sensor accuracy

      Or just have a photo-diode on the top of the flipper at a point where if it's not in the shade, it won't activate the flipper.

      Or a simple pressure switch there.

      Not as cutting edge, but much more reliable, cheaper and easier to do.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Take advantage of modern sensor accuracy

        >Or just have a photo-diode on the top of the flipper at a point where if it's not in the shade, it won't activate the flipper.

        Enemy robot is fitted with LEDs on its undercarriage.

        NEXT!

  26. Caff

    controls

    Wonder would it be possible to improve on the control and reaction time of a bot by using some of of autopilot system?

  27. naive

    Jihad bot

    Enters the arena, pulls a cord.... Booom.. blasting shrapnel in the shape of a flat circle one foot above ground.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Jihad bot

      Prohibbited by rule 12.7.3

      "Explosives

      Explosives or flammable solids such as DOT Class C devices, Gunpowder, Cartridge Primers or Military"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Jihad bot

        Since when did the law stop a suicide bomber?

        They lose, but they think they won.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Jihad bot

          72 litres of virgin oil awaits in silicon heaven.

  28. Drefsab_UK

    hmmm idea's idea's

    is it possible to get a link to the rules & regs for design specs.

    Im guessing there will strict limits on weight / power / capapabilities.

    If weight wasn't an issue if was thinking something on tank style tracks (like some of the house robots) but I love the idea of having the option of magnetizing them life me now etc...

    Sloped armour to deflect incoming weapon attacks etc (I read mesh interior is supposed to be banned.

    Then weapon, hmm needs thought need to know the rules but we want maximum power with in the regs and for it to be quick to reuse/rearm. Maybe kind of flywheel to build up massive momentum force to then drive that force into some offence (so not talking a hypno disc). Maybe driving a harpoon like spike thats also backed by hydrolic/phenmatic presure to build up crazy force and smash interior components etc.

    Id love to see something that could take on the house robots :)

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: hmmm idea's idea's

      I've emailed the contact details for entry to Lester Haines, hopefully he'll report back to us here if he hears back from them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hmmm idea's idea's

      IIRC - tracked robots were routinely disabled as the tracks are a weak point, frequently becoming broken or pulled off the wheels.

      Qualities for robot design choices:-

      Wedge or dome shapes most stable with wedge shapes more able to lift opponent drive away from floor.

      Low ground clearance/high weight to reduce risk of lifting off drive or tipping

      hidden or recessed wheels more survivable than tracks and easier to retain some traction with damage

      needs nice paintjob that can be burned, impaled, immolated, torn spectacularly but without causing significant operational issues

      needs to be fast with low or zero turning circle to avoid firepits or house robots (did they meet all the rules too, i was never sure...)

      Qualities for weapon design choices:-

      Still thinking a strong hydraulic spike or claw e.g. razor is most likely to penetrate defences.

      Powerful rotating saw also effective, particulary when paired with claw

      Hammering and projectile weapons were fun to watch but slow to reset and not very effective.

      I am sure others will take a view too, but that was my experience...

      Most of the s

    3. Quortney Fortensplibe
      Trollface

      Re: hmmm idea's idea's

      How about a robot which confuses its opponent by releasing a cloud of greengrocer's apostrophes?

      1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

        Re: Re: hmmm idea's idea's

        Greengrocer's apostrophe's, surely?

        1. Quortney Fortensplibe
          Trollface

          Re: hmmm idea's idea's

          I s'ee what you did there!

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: hmmm idea's idea's

      I can see where Kevlar might be a good thing to incorporate.

  29. Tom_

    Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton

    I don't care what you build, but please, please wrap it in meat. Living tissue might be tricky, but meat and preferably skin should be achievable.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton

      Would wrapping it in bacon be a good thing then?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton

        "Would wrapping it in bacon be a good thing then?"

        No, that would be a criminal waste!

  30. Thecowking

    March is far too early.

    I was hoping to get a team together for this, but it looks like it'll have to wait for the next season. The rules are extremely restrictive though, from reading them that means 1)No high powered lasers or masers

    2)No jamming combined with either optical control or just autonomous robots

    3)No coil guns

    4)No hijacking by cloning commands and then rebroadcasting more strongly on the same frequency.

    5)No oil slicks you later ignite

    Basically they're not allowing anything new, just spinners, flippers and Razer.

    All my ideas are for naught.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: March is far too early.

      there's really not that much one can do to a decently built slab of thick metal battle bot by flipping or hitting... they basically insist on turning this into a boring wrestling match.

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: March is far too early.

      Basically they're not allowing anything new, just spinners, flippers and Razer.

      Yup. Which is going to make it just as boring as the original show became.

    3. Tim Bergel

      Re: March is far too early.

      Mine too - I was going to suggest a thermic lance as an alternative to dropping thermite.

  31. Elmer Phud

    Robot name comp?

    B.O.F.H.

    Big Old Fat Heavy - them after-pub meals are responsible.

  32. 2460 Something

    Don't just mull, go hell for leather straight in.

    Something either flipper or massive spike damage. Really low to the ground to prevent also being flipped with shed loads of armour. Hydraulic wheels so can either raise up a bit if it gets stuck on a ramp or drop it to provide better anchorage. Needs a decent motor in it as well to keep it quite quick. Double shielding (outer skin, extra around vulnerable components).

    I'm excited already, and I for one welcome our new El Reg overlord :)

  33. ukgnome

    Drone on

    What about aerial bot's?

    1. John Tappin Silver badge

      Re: Drone on

      Airbourne nulclear tank = good idea but not sure what weapon it could use within the rules apart from a bullet speed spike in a kamikazee dive onto the opponent...more like a guided armour piercing shell...

  34. Christopher Reeve's Horse

    Close range but powerful...

    How about a bolt gun like the one in No Country for Old Men?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Close range but powerful...

      The rules state that projectiles must be tethered, and that the tether is capable of stopping the projectile at full speed within 2.5 meters... so yeah, a captive bolt gun of the sort used for killing cows would be allowed, but not the one from No Country.

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: Close range but powerful...

        No explosives, but as regular reg readers know really high mussle velocity is achieved with rail guns.

        Balance the strength of the cord with the mussle velocity from the rail gun so it doesn't fire over 2.5m. Requires getting in close should be fun to watch. Perhaps a retractable javelin.

        Not sure how happy the FAA will be to find out el reg is developing rail guns and space rocket tech at the same time.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Close range but powerful...

          "Not sure how happy the FAA will be to find out el reg is developing rail guns and space rocket tech at the same time."

          You don't need rail guns from orbit. Just some big heavy crowbars with minimal guidance to impact the target at orbital velocity.

          1. Christopher Reeve's Horse

            Re: Close range but powerful...

            A captive (penetrating?) bolt gun would be powered by compressed gas, similarly to many flipper type robot mechanisms. I'm sure the basic design could be adapted to have more reach and much more punch.

            In my head, the design would put it on the end of some sort of scorpion like tail which would be used in combination with pincers or some kind of big claw at the front. It would also shout things like 'GET OVER HERE' and 'FINISH HIM'...

            Not that I've spent much time thinking about it or anything...

  35. brakepad

    Wire wool

    [edited to say: just read the post that lists what is banned - never mind, maybe in another less restrictive future series!]

    Intrigued to know what is allowed in terms of weapons, but one thought I've had in the back of my mind for "when I go on Robot Wars" is to puncture a hole in the opposing robot using a large hollow needle, and fill it with wire wool, forced down the needle in a similar manner to that used to install cavity wall insulation. Before the needle is retracted, the wool would be ignited to give a lovely smouldering mess on the inside, hopefully cooking a few critical systems in the process.

    I suspect that incendiary devices might not be allowed though, as I don't recall anyone other than the house robots ever using a flamethrower.

  36. horsham_sparky
    Boffin

    tricky

    We had a team started when I was back at Uni (the original series with philippa forrester).. those were the days when the best battery you could get was sealed lead acid or Ni-Cad.

    The rules were pretty tight at that point as well.. its tricky to get anything that has the run time, damage, weight, control and robustness and still meets all the rules. We never did crack it, we just didn't get the time to do it properly and graduated before finishing it. Oh well!

    Would love to have another crack at it though.. there's a lot of new tech on the market now which would be interesting to use, particularly with batteries and motors and motor drives etc. Lester, get in touch if you need a sparky/embedded SW engineer on the job ;-)

  37. Valerion

    So glad this is coming back

    Flicking through the upper echelons of TV channels the other day with my 10 year old boy and came across a re-run. He was instantly hooked and when I said it was coming back he asked if we could go. A quick Google revealed the on-going tour (I had no idea that was a thing!) would be visiting somewhere not too far away from us in the summer. 2 minutes later and tickets were booked.

    Can't wait!

  38. A. Coatsworth
    Thumb Up

    Whatever the weapons installed, I'd love to see El Reg killer bot with a paint scheme based on this magnificent beast: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/king-vulture/

    "Sarcoramphus Papa" is a cool sounding name too

  39. Tempest8008

    Make it properly Autonomous

    I want it to be a true, autonomous robot. Not some glorified remote control experiment.

    Have the remote control ready and a cutoff in place to be able to take charge if needed, but I'd really like to see it making its own choices and reacting on its own.

    A truly, magnificently, barbed, bladed, and bad-ass autonomous death machine.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Make it properly Autonomous

      "A truly, magnificently, barbed, bladed, and bad-ass autonomous death machine."

      Occasionally people have ideas which really ought never to be brought to fruition. Is that a knock at your door?

      1. Tim Bergel

        Re: Make it properly Autonomous

        No, no - that's exactly what's needed....

  40. MJI Silver badge

    I hope a lot of old favourites are back

    C5 messed the competition up by removing the "We will not total your robot" gentlemens agreement.

    All the expensive and long build robots were retired as the losers did not fancy getting theirs written off.

    Look how many times Razer broke down, when it worked it was unbeatable, but when it broke down.....

    If it had been C5 it would have been wrecked in series 2 (I think).

    I would love to see old favourites with upgrades, we never did get to see how powerful Wheely Big Cheese got as they were aiming to flip a house robot out of the ring.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I hope a lot of old favourites are back

      All the expensive and long build robots were retired as the losers did not fancy getting theirs written off.

      Indeed. In this day and age, teams could their robots built by the production company to their own (CAD) design, so that each team selected for competition has a couple of spare robots. Something like that.

  41. Don The Elder

    Hydrogen Fuel Cell powered true (wheel-less) Hoverboard with Lithium-Ion Battery magnetic-mine fists? So what if they would melt the end of your arms off?

  42. heyrick Silver badge

    Do they qualify as being proper robots

    ...if they're just radio controlled? Would be more fun to have a sensing robot that controls its own destiny.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Do they qualify as being proper robots

      Definitely. However, if the autonomous soccer robots are anything to go by, the fights would be in real time slow motion.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Before people get too enamoured,

    I just have to point out that tipping a Robot Wars contender onto its back has never been a guaranteed win. Some robots are able to self-right, while others such as Pussycat incorporated being tipped over into their attack style.

  44. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Vulturebot Futures Enterprises, can with a Will, stand and deliver Crazy Horse Salons

    Sadly, the show's due to start shooting in March, so there's no way we can design and build a plausible Vulturebot by then.

    Says whom, for what?

    Crazy Horse Salons Patronage would beg to differ and choose QuITe ANother Orbit

    QuITANON for Safe Haven Passage of Immaculate Dreams.

    amanfromMars 1 pinging Buckingham Palace Participation with Primes Anticipating Right Royal Reply.

    Sweet Cryptic is OtherWorldly Blended and Hopelessly Attractive in Mesmerising Times, El Regers

    Jump in and across, for deep waters are fine and of the sweetest candy.

    There's a heck of a lot of NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive IT going on out there, and in here for everywhere. Vulture Central Territory, surely? ? No matter, IT easily is, is.

    Ciao for Now. Catch Y'All Later Better Beta Prepared and Virtually Armoured:-)

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Vulturebot Futures Enterprises, can with a Will, stand and deliver Crazy Horse Salons

      No more mugwump jism for that man!

      It's Dry January, after all.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Vulturebot Futures Enterprises, can with a Will, stand and deliver Crazy Horse Salons

        "It's Dry January, after all."

        No it isn't! It's pissing down outside and my LOHAN tankard is full (again!)

  45. stucs201
    Paris Hilton

    Missing the important thing - What to call it?

    I'll offer Powered Attack Robot Instruction System (PARIS) for the remote control. I'll let others work out how to name the robot itself LOHAN.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Missing the important thing - What to call it?

      Automatic Death Expediting Life Ender.

      1. stucs201

        Re: Missing the important thing - What to call it?

        Hugely Incredible Little Tank Of Nastiness

  46. CaptSmeg
    Devil

    Jaws of death?

    Hydraulics are ok right? How about something based on the jaws of life, ideally an 'X' arrangement of jaws that could close in all four directions. A high friction coating on the inside to prevent victims escaping. It would be pleasingly cruel to watch the other team's faces, as their baby is slowly crushed in to oblivion in front of their eyes. It would be banned immediately of course.

    Just my two pennies' worth

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Jaws of death?

      Ever seen Razer?

      Most successful crusher

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: Jaws of death?

        Or even Sir Killalot, the house robot?

        His claw was basically a repurposed Jaws of Life cutter, albeit the normal two-bladed one rather than a 4-bladed contraption. That said it did seem reasonably effective, from what I can remember.

  47. WatAWorld

    If you'll be competing against other companies, sure

    If you'll be competing against other companies, colleges and universities, sure, definitely enter Robot Wars !

    If you'll be competing against 7 year-old kids, meh, no.

    That was the thing with the original Robot Wars, you'd get teams of engineers against a father and his 7 year-old daughter. It was too embarrassing even to just watch.

    They should have a separate league table for the different classes of competitor.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: If you'll be competing against other companies, sure

      Some of the family teams did very well

  48. WatAWorld

    Magnet on an arm to help flip the unflippable

    I like the flipper ideas, I think they did really well last time, except some opponents were almost unflippable.

    I suggest considering a magnet on an arm to enable getting the flipper underneath the unflippable.

  49. davidp231

    Didn't BOFH and PFY do this already?

  50. Oengus

    I am surprised that the Big Bang Theory hasn't been mentioned yet...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVJi0cprhy4

  51. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Robots must have some sort of clearance underneath them?

    A balloon sandwiched between two thin aluminum slabs, slipped underneath the offending robot, and then air is pumped into the balloon, thus lifting said robot off from the floor for leisurely demolition/wrecking/inspection/disablement, and as soon as that is done, the air is let out from the balloon, the robot is let down on the floor in a disabled state, and the process is repeated on the next robot.

    Not sure about that pussycat robot though... it have a high floor clearance though, if tipped the wrong way...

  52. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Oh and... we have to assume that this commentard section won't get locked after the usual time so us commentards can throw our ideas around...

    ...fun times! :)

  53. Yesnomaybe

    Inertial disc

    The various flipping and axe designs were quite common, but the most entertaining to watch because of the immense destruction it inflicted was Hypnodisc. I think a "robot" with that kind of weapon would work really well, with a few tweaks. First of all, I'd put the disc in a vertical position, so when it makes contact, it flips opponents UP and/or away. You loose the gyroscope effect that made Hypnodisc so difficult to flip, but in return, when contact is made, destruction should be increased, as our robot would have the floor to push against, and avoid being flung sideways. Secondly, the slow spin-up of the disc would be improved by adding a bottle of CO2 and a pneumatic turbine. Very easy and lightweight. Electric motor would be for maintaining idle-speed only, so would save weight and battery-capacity. The disc could be easily made from a lorry brake-disc. Direct-drive electric motor, and the turbine on automatic clutch sourced from a motorbike. It also was apparent that the robots that did well, were the ones that were the easiest to drive/control accurately. So a lot of work should go in to that area. Power without control normally came to a sticky end quite unaided.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Inertial disc

      "You loose the gyroscope effect that made Hypnodisc so difficult to flip"

      Would you?

      1. Yesnomaybe

        Re: Inertial disc

        Well, you would loose half of it. And the gyroscope would work against the steering, so the design isn't without compromises. Also, the point of gravity would be a bit higher. To outweigh those disadvantages, I'd get a "driver" with a background in RC racing. Those guys have reactions and neural pathways that would give a considerable edge.

    2. Andrew 6

      Re: Inertial disc

      I had a similar idea to this, additional benefit is you could run the wheel either direction one way to throw the opponent away (suggest some of of small flat appendages to put the force into throwing) and the other way to drive and cut/smash into the ground (a cut edge on the opposite side of the flat hammer thowers might work well here)

  54. TRT Silver badge

    Weapons systems

    Well, whatever weapons systems are chosen, there will be a whole panoply of defence experts lining up to praise and criticise. I guess Lewis Page will get some mileage out of it.

  55. Joe Harrison

    Shredder rotors

    I'm impressed by metal shredders. A large funnel into which you chuck metal scrap and at the bottom there are two slowly contra-rotating cylinders with sparse teeth. Just about anything goes in (old cars etc.) and metal shreds come out.

    How about a wedge-shaped open-mouthed robot that did nothing but get close to any type of opponent and try to suck it into the mincer.

  56. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Terminator

    "there's no way we can design and build a plausible Vulturebot by then."

    So who on the SPB team gets to be wrapped in tinfoil, given electric carving knives and hack away at lesser competition?

    (I'll volunteer, but I need to practice my lines first. It will take me a few days to get "beep, bop, boop", "crush!, kill!!, destroy!!!" and "Kill all humans!" down)

  57. Chozo
    Devil

    I would abandon the classical two dimensional strategy of butting heads till something breaks and go for a "Parasitic" attack. Jump onto the opponent, hang on tight and start drilling till something goes pop.

  58. The Mighty Spang

    if it doesn't allow sponsorship, and doesn't pay

    you should all tell them to shove it up their arses.

    That was the problem with the previous RW series. Things were expensive. Companies would have paid for advertising but the beeb was having none of it. Most galling of all, £3000 (all those years ago, so say £5000 now) worth of kit could be chewed up by the (overpowered) house robots just because the episode was a bit boring that week, and the beeb wouldn't pay you anything.

    pay contestants or allow sponsorship, otherwise it is just pure exploitation for cheap tv. and fucking hypocritical considering all the sport stuff they pay millions for with sponsorship all over the place.

    (yes i was looking into making a robot years ago, but even though contracting at the time and the money would have been small beer, it was a lot of time to invest in something that could be screwed up for fun and just felt exploitative)

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