Tremble at the Future!
Contest Aftermath
I carried away a great feeling from the Robot Wars contest. Perhaps the best thing about the contest was the friendly atmosphere. Far from being uptight and secretive, the participants were happy to exchange information and tips, as well as share tools and equipment. I look forward to seeing what some of the people I met will come up with for a future contest.

Hopefully, they will come up with less wedge robots. There was a preponderance of them at Robot Wars '96 (no doubt because of the remakable success of a wedge - La Machine - the previous year), and I for one found them to be boring. I have nothing against the design - it's a sound one - but a plain wedge just isn't very exciting, especially now that we've seen so many. There is an aesthetic to a robot that actually tries to damage or actively flip opponent, not just push it off its wheels.

I learned a few things by competing. The first lesson is to plan as much as you can before final assembly. Try to buy all the components you will need first. Maybe build a test rig to try them out. Maybe use a CAD program to model your robot on computer. Do not build your final frame until you know exactly what you are going to put in it. We bought part and built our frame simultaneously, causing us much grief. Avoid plastic gears. When you buy motors, open them up and see if they have any plastic gears internally. Plastic gears will strip. A stripped gear cost us the melee bout.

My Plans
It's been a few years now, but I still hope to make another robot with Rob. Rob and I believe that we have learned much and will use our knowledge to win.

The main obstacle, I believe, to inflicting damage in the lighter weight classes is the mass and traction of the robots themselves. My robot can strike your robot with all the force in the world, but it is more likely just to push your robot around than do any real damage. Another problem, especially with saws and drills, is that they need to keep attacking the exact same same spot for a few seconds to do damage. Rarely will an opponent be so obliging as to let this happen.

Our future design will actually be simpler than our '96 one. Instead of three motors, we will use only two - which will both move the robot and power our weapons. There is a very simple solution to the problem of weight and traction - walls. I don't want to get into specifics because I want to win. Also, we hope to improve the aesthetics of our robot. Artist co-workers of mine at VR-1 have promised to help with graphics.

The Contest
Over the past few years, there has been some legal trouble with the contest itself. There is a new contest with a different name, though, that seems to have preserved much of the spirit of the original. When I find the URL for it, I will post it here.