Combat Robots descend on San Mateo Event Center for Combots Cup V

By Jon Swenson - Last updated: Monday, October 25, 2010 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment


San Mateo Combots Cup V combat robot battles
TITANIUM SPARKS RESULT FROM A COLLISION INSIDE THE ARENA

San Mateo Combots Cup V combat robot battles Sewer Snake Death and Taxes
HW SEWER SNAKE ROBOT TAKES OUT TAG TEAM DEATH AND TAXES DUO


According to extensive Sharkspage research, robots can’t be bargained with, they can’t be reasoned with, and they absolutely will not stop until their opponents are dead. Sunday night during the finale of the fifth annual Combots Cup at the San Mateo Event Center, a wide array of modern combat robots occasionally stopped for a handful of different reasons. Battery drain was a concern, some lost communication with wireless transmitters, others became unceremoniously stuck in the protective arena bumpers.

Long stretches of preperation and troubleshooting were spliced with brief moments of sheer car-crash terror. An early collision between the wedge bot Raging Scottsman and the plow shaped Breaker Box flung the latter heavyweight robot into the enclosure. Breaker Box and its articulated arm needed to be crowbarred free from the wall, but after a quick restart it emerged with a 22-11 win. The next competitor Wolverwine nearly disintegrated upon first contact, pieces of which were found the remainder of the evening. A heavyweight match between defending champions Original Sin (2009) and Last Rights (2008) resulted in two ear shattering crashes. The thick spinning blade on Last Rights took a chunk out of the bulldozer wedge of Original Sin, but then snapped with a violent stress fracture after hitting the steel wall.

For the uninitiated, the Combots championship sprung from earlier televised robot fighting programs that aired in the U.S. and U.K. Subsequent individual events featured double elimination tournaments in weight classes from antweight (1 pound), to beetleweight (3 pounds), featherweight (30 pounds), lightweight (60 pounds), middleweight (120 pounds) and the highly anticipated heavyweight division (220 pounds) among others. For Combots Cup V, robots would battle for 3 minutes inside a 40×40 foot arena, with a 36×36 foot fighting area. Double-paned polycarbonate plexiglass and steel bumpers lined the arena for spectator saftey. The robot battles were judged on a criteria of agression and damage. Scratched or flipped over? Cosmetic damage. Smoke, fire and/or loss of structural integrity and power? Massive damage. Robots could “tap out” if damaged too severely.

A strong crowd filled bleachers on three sides of the arena, with many parents bringing wide eyed children along for the learning experience. The crowd was forced to take a brief unscheduled intermission after one fight-of-the-night inside the arena. A tag team duo of lighter robots named Death and Taxes took a beating from veteran heavyweight Sewer Snake. After being hammered and flipped over with Snake’s metal fork, Taxes began billowing smoke and then caught on fire. It kept fighting to cheers from the crowd. After it was slowed and eventually stopped (with the help of a fire extinguisher), the Snake then began working on the other tag team partner Death. Death was beaten down and launched in the air repeatedly, losing its sole drum weapon and eventually the match. Fans were then asked to take a brief 15 minute break for the smoke and fumes to clear.

There were many fan favorites and oddities on display. The Great Pumpkin featured a giant orange plastic melon on top of a very mobile robot, but it was brutalized matter of factly by Breaker Box. Lightweight Texas Heat and the barely functioning super heavyweight Pinebox had trouble utilizing their popular flame throwers. The 19-pound Schwer Sporkinok featured a giant metallic death spork.

The buildup finally lead to the heavyweight Combot Cup match between Gary Gin’s Original Sin, and the flamboyant flipping and spinning fork of the Sacramento-based Sewer Snake. Gin, an electrical engineer from San Leandro, reportedly spent $6,000 to create the 2009 Cup winning machine. Matt and Wendy Maxham’s three-axel Sewer Snake won the intial Combots I Heavyweight Cup. The Snake may have taken the brunt of the intial collision as both robots met in the center of the arena like battering rams. Original Sin twice drove SS into the wall, but the self-righing fork on Sewer Snake would get it back on its wheels and in a position to maneuver out of danger. The Sacramento robot barely avoided flipping out of the arena for an immediate stoppage on the third attempt, and the fourth head-on crash resulted in pieces falling off and a broken drive chain. Sewer Snake was hobbled, and Original Sin loaded up and scored several drive by launchings before earning a 24-9 decision.

The event itself was educational and entertaining, until a robot shattered and gouged a piece out of the enclosure two panels from the judges seat. The element of danger only added to the experience, but it soon turned into a discussion of polycarbonate composition and fracture strength among a handful of mechanical engineers. With twice the thickness of hockey glass at HP Pavilion, and more importantly more room for it to flex, the robot arena was effectively bulletproof. After watching the arena crew sweep the steel floor of burnt rubber and chunks of metal between fights, one judge suggested the need for a robot zamboni.

A photo gallery from the event is available here.

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