Robot WarsRobot Wars is a British television series, in which amateur constructors of robots compete in a tournament-style contest to see whose robot is the best. The inspiration for the series came from the American robot fighting contests that were first held in the San Francisco area in the early 1990s. The TV series is however less anarchic and has well-defined rules, classes and a tournament structure. In turn the series was remade in the US for television. Reruns are shown on PBS and TechTV. In Sweden the show has been shown on TV4. The first season the British version was aired, but later seasons had Swedish commentators. They also encouraged people to build their own robots, which has caused speculation as to a forthcoming Swedish version of the show.
There have been five annual series so far, each hosted by Craig Charles (Red Dwarf), though the first series was co-hosted by Jeremy Clarkson. Philippa Forrester has also co-hosted except for one series.
The competition which forms most of the televised part of Robot Wars is the heavyweight class, with a maximum all-up weight of 100kg (this was increased from 80kg after the first three series). The rules allow electric or liquid-fuel power (though in the latter case fuel carried is strictly limited to five minutes running time), and permits any weapons that remain attached to the main vehicle (i.e. projectiles, flame throwers, and water cannons are banned). The "robots" are in fact not true robots since they are not autonomous but remotely controlled by their operating teams.
There are a variety of games played, though the main knockout arena game is the most popular. Other games have included obstacle courses, robot football, and tug of war. In some games, including the main arena game, there are additional "house robots" who patrol certain areas of the arena. If a robot enters those zones, the house robots are permitted to join in and add to the general chaos. There are other hazards in the arena - for example a pit can be opened into which a robot may fall and become trapped (in later series, the pit can be opened by any robot activating a switch on the arena wall). There is also a powerful flipper which can fling a robot across the arena, retracting spikes, flame torches and cutting wheels built into the arena sidewalls. The house robots are not bound by the same rules as the competitors, and are generally much larger and heavier, as well as being professionally built. In general the winner is the last robot still functioning. In the event of a tie or disputed outcome, there is a panel of adjudicators who judge based on "style, control, damage, and aggression".
In the first series, and to a lesser extent the second series, competitors' robots were very diverse, with all sorts of untried designs being put forward. After a while competitors designs tended to converge to a few established successful designs. In later series, it was often the same teams and robots that ended up reaching the final stages of the contest. Successful design types include:
- Wedges with flippers - can get under an opponent and flip them over.
- Invertible flat boxes - are immune to being flipped by wedges. Weaponry varies; often a cutting disk is used.
- Jaws - can enclose a competitor and crush/pierce it. This requires enormous force but there have been some very successful attempts.
- Stored energy weapons - heavy flywheels have proved very successful in causing damage
See also: Battlebots