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Thread: Hovercraft Battle Bot

  1. #1
    Redirect Left's Avatar
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    I was browsing the build rules for Robot Wars & FRA events, for an idea me and friend had about hosting, I'll be posting a thread about that in a few days, but one thing on the Robot Wars rules stuck out that I just had to post about, you can view the document in its entirity here. However this is what I am referring to;

    3.1 All Robots must have (easily visible mobility) in order to compete.
    Methods of mobility include:
    [..]
    3.1.4 Ground Effect air cushions such as a hovercraft
    [..]
    A quick search led me to note that in Robot Wars, no hovercraft based vehicles have competed, at least listed on the wiki.

    This led to me thinking, how would you even approach this, how can it be approached to begin with? It'll be very easy to rupture the skirt and have your air bubble escape faster than its restored and leave you grounded, you might be able to add skirt strips of metal, but good luck against something like PP3D with its low spinner.

    Assuming that is overcome, I can't think of any weapons that'd work. Surely everything will bounce you back slightly and not be able to sustain the attack? Maybe a spinner might go fast enough that it'd do some damage before it bounced you everywhere?

    I'd love to perhaps see a hovercraft fighting bot prototype, or maybe even an entry attempt (lets face it, if it has any where near potential, it'd probably get on purely for it being a new thing), so how would others approach this? Perhaps maybe the specific noting of that in the Robot Wars build rules is an vague invitation that they'd like to see it come to fruition, so might be worth me trying to pursue any series potential.
    Last edited by Redirect Left; 14th July 2017 at 17:58.

  2. #2
    Ocracoke's Avatar
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    You could have a completely solid skirt (as older hovercrafts were constructed with) but that would need to be fairly lightweight to allow the robot to hover and still have the potential for breaking (fibreglass would be a potential way of doing that). Then again, with a powerful enough motor, anything is possible.

    As for a weapon, a good overhead weapon (i.e. a fast enough axe or a crusher) in the right place would mean curtains for the robot for movement but as you say, a horizontal weapon, such as a spinner, would be less effective. Heck, if it rose high enough off the ground, low slung spinners would be ineffective but then at what point does it become a drone?

    My main concern would be control. Airbrakes in addition to movable ducting on the engine might make it somewhat controllable. Also, what weaponry would work on a hovercraft? Anything pushing (spinners, axes, rams, flippers etc) wouldn't work as there is no grip on the floor. As a distraction half of a clusterbot, I can see this working with the other bot being a "traditional" robot mind.
    Last edited by Ocracoke; 14th July 2017 at 21:35.

  3. #3
    overkill's Avatar
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    Hovercraft are a waste of time: they are not invertible and are highly vulnerable to open pits or the flame pit at Robowars. They would also be vulnerable to wedges and flippers and as mentioned, its hard to mount an effective weapon on them - until flame-throwers are allowed .

  4. #4
    Redirect Left's Avatar
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    So pretty much as I anticipated then, fairly undoable even if you did get enough power to lift a heavyweight rated robot, and even then, I can't think of a way of righting a hovercraft back to the hover side in any sort of reliable method. Unless both sides were capable of hovering, and it just had a large spike or circular saw through the central part of it as its 'active' weapon.

    Still a bit of a shame the general consensus is not worth it /impossible, as it'd be one hell of a neat looking monstrosity.

  5. #5
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    Yeah it might be best to go for invertibility, with a second skirt on top. I'm picturing something similar to Expulsion from Series 2/9, with a weapon in the middle like you mentioned. My personal opinion is that it's not worth it but that's just me; if someone wants to give it a shot though, I certainly wouldn't discourage it and would love to see the results
    Jamie McHarg
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  6. #6
    Redirect Left's Avatar
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    I'm not sure, if double side, where you'd source the air at a high enough rate to pump it into the active side, unless skirt around the edge, and then inside that at both sides was fans for the opposite side. Then a button on your controller, or even automated, to flip air to the other side if its inverted.

    Would be a project with a lot of trial and error, and in the end, you might come out with error no matter what you do in terms of viability.

  7. #7
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    I've been building a fan powered feather for the last 12 months that's been a bit top secret but uses castors instead of a skirt.

    I entered a random robot in April to try one of the ideas and it works, so umming and arring about finishing it off. It's finding the cash and time. I originally mentioned the idea to the robo challenge guys and they said the diversity in entrants is something they have been trying to encourage so it spurred me on.

  8. #8
    Redirect Left's Avatar
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    Using air + castors/wheels is an interesting combination. I imagine it must be on the light side of feathers though, to get a decent speed, but also not too much momentum/inertia (always forget the correct word for that) to be too difficult to quickly change direction if you're heading for disaster (say a pit)?

    Using air is something i'd considered, but didn't give much though, as I expected the driving to be worse than trying to drive a piano down a hill.

  9. #9
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    How is the air being directed? I guess there is either one air outlet with directional propellers or is there two outlets which direct one side of the robot to move forwards? Either way, a unique entry to be sure.

  10. #10
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    Been trying three ideas, first is a fan at either side and it's driven tank style so both suck or blow (hahaha) gives fwd and bkwd, alternate directions steers. This has brushed motors for reversing one side. Doesn't give much power. Second idea is a fan pushing each way (ie 4) and you just start one fan to give desired direction. Lot of correction, nearly lost a finger. ***BUT*** uses big brushless stuff so LOTS of push. Third has been the best so far, big fan at the back for fwd and back, with another on the front at 90 degrees for steering. This drives pretty much like an RC car (ish). Still undergoing testing though.

    EDIT - even though I've been mucking about, I can't see the setup surviving the current crop of spinners that turn up every where you go. Tbh they're stiffling creativity. Even if I put the fans in a hardox box, I still couldn't afford to be rebuilding each time they got a big knock.
    Last edited by daveimi; 17th July 2017 at 16:19.

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