Arena builders

Inside the UK’s robot battle rings where amateur robot builders battle crazy contraptions in pubs

TWO twisted pieces of plastic and metal stare at each other in a battle-scarred arena as the countdown begins.

A screaming crowd leans over the roar of electric motors as an announcer yells, “Three, two, one… Activate.”

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Robots prepare for battle at an event in Bristol last weekCredit: The Sun
Competitors have two or three minutes to immobilize their opponent or push them into a hole in the arena floor called

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Competitors have two or three minutes to immobilize their opponent or push them into a hole in the arena floor called “the pit”.Credit: The Sun
Joe (front right) with fellow robot builders Craig (left) and Gareth (rear right)

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Joe (front right) with fellow robot builders Craig (left) and Gareth (rear right)Credit: Joe Brown

It’s not the opening scene of a Hollywood sci-fi movie, but a typical Sunday afternoon for members of the UK’s main robot battle network.

Once a month amateur engineers from the Bristol Bot Builders (BBB) ​​gather in pubs around the city to take on artisan robots over a pint of beer.

Think “Fight Club” meets “Robot Wars,” the popular BBC show from the late 90s and 2010s that inspired many of the band members.

It’s what inspired Joe Brown, who helps run the BBB, to start tinkering with machines himself nearly a decade ago.

“I was a student at the University of Bristol and helped run an engineering company,” the 29-year-old told The Sun.

“We were looking for a way to provide students with a social activity that developed practical skill and was also entertaining.”

While reminiscing about Robot Wars – a show Joe and his friends loved as children – they had the brilliant idea of ​​putting together their own version.

“We realized that Robot Wars wasn’t just a TV show, it was a hobby, and people were building smaller, cheaper robots at home,” Joe said.

“We combined beer, pizza and little robots for fun and it’s been going on ever since.”

Dozens of competitors register for each event

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Dozens of competitors register for each event

BATTLE BOT

Building robots has grown in popularity over the past few years due to the increased availability of proper tools, parts, and know-how.

Many enthusiasts start out by making small, 150-gram machines that fight inside dishwasher-sized Plexiglas boxes.

Over time, they move up to bigger weight classes, with the top robots weighing in at 110kg, the same size as those in Robot Wars.

Competitors have two or three minutes to either immobilize their opponent or push them into a hole in the arena floor called “the pit”.

Robots can be loaded with flippers, axes, spinning weapons and more to give them the edge over their opponents.

And while there’s undoubtedly a competitive edge to the debates, it’s the wackiness and camaraderie that draws dozens of entrants to each tournament.

“What I love is that people love helping each other solve problems,” Joe said.

“Even if your enemy – a robot you’re about to compete with – doesn’t work, you’ll probably be there to help prepare him because you just want to fight the best fight.”

‘WE BUILD SILLY THINGS’

Joe’s comments were echoed by contestants at the latest BBB event, held last week at a cider bar in Bristol.

“We build stupid things and fight them,” regular contestant Rory Mangles – who starred in three seasons of Robot Wars – told The Sun.

“It’s just nice to create things and have a way to test them against other people to see how good your skills are.”

Bristol has become the UK’s robot fighting hotbed, but groups have sprung up in cities like Liverpool and York in recent years.

Besides being a bit of fun, contests offer a chance to show off your engineering skills – and even land you a job.

“We have an engineering deficit,” Joe said. “There are more engineering jobs than people studying it.”

“Things like robot combat are a great way to get people into engineering and problem solving.”

Joe says a friend of his recently got into building robots and was offered a job with an engineering firm in a recent competition.

“A company came to our event last month and my friend just started chatting with them and showed off his robot. They hired him on the spot.”

You can find out more about the Bristol Bot Builders on their website.

The organizers were inspired by the popular BBC show Robot Wars

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The organizers were inspired by the popular BBC show Robot WarsCredit: document
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