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What is Robot Wars?

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Robotic combat is a new sport where home made robots fight each other in an arena. The aim is to immobilise your opposition using tactics and your own weaponry.

Robot Wars, the UK television show of this sport features many home made robots. After qualifying to be in a series, robots are drawn against each other. They go into the arena (sometimes they can be one on one fights and others can be three way melees or even four fighting each other depending on the format of the show) and fight each other using weapons and tactics such as pushing your opponent into a house robot or arena hazard. Driving skills, experience and practice play a big part in deciding who wins the battle, not just the quality of your robot. 

You have 5 minutes to immobilise your opponent. Any robot that is unable to move for thirty continuous seconds shall be considered "immobile". Once one of the robots is dead or impossible to move anywhere (e.g. it is in the pit or out of the arena) then the robots left standing go through to the next round. If time is up first and no robot is immobilised, then it goes to a panel of three judges who decide the winner of that battle using their criteria of style, control, damage and aggression. Sometimes it is very controversial but the judges' decision is final! If it is too close to call and even the judges can't decide on the winner (very rare but has happened), then the judges will either call another battle or call a draw (so both robots win). Winners of each battle work their way through each round. A series can feature 12 or more heats. The winner of each heat goes through to the semi finals where all the heat finalists win. The winners of the semi finals go through to the grand final and the winner of this is the new UK champion and winner of that particular series.

It is just wonderful to see pieces of robots flying across the arena. Some people start crying when they see their robot they spent years putting together coming out of the arena looking a like a pile of old rubber but most people take it well and have a laugh and come back the next year.

Remember, all these are home made robots which battle in an arena which is filmed in front of a live audience for television. There are rules on how your robot is built which must be followed. For example, certain types of weapons aren't allowed (e.g. nuclear weapons are banned, liquids, fire, guns, weapons which detach off the robot etc.), there are weight limits (heavyweights cannot be heavier than 100kg), there are limits on most things including hydraulic pressure and size dimensions of your robot and there are many other rules about how you build your robot and how you play the game, so, I suggest you check out the rules section and building a robot section of this site for more information and advice. Generally, a well built robot who has been designed well with good and effective weapons and armour, who is reliable and easy to handle will win the battle. You must also prepare thoroughly and think of good tactics and practice your driving.

"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail!" - Julia Reed, Fourth Wars and Extreme 1 pit reporter.

Also, make sure you have a self righting mechanism or a robot which runs both ways up because the flipper is a very common weapon!

For us people at home, the audience of the show, it is very entertaining. We love to see mayhem, destruction and robots being completely smashed, trashed and utterly battered. We love it! There is also a very serious side to the show. Robot Wars helps to make engineering, electronics, maths and physics interesting and cool for kids. It gets females into this sort of thing as well. It make more people take these subjects at school, college and university. I think that this is a very good thing.

Robot Wars is now a global phenomenon, shown in 45 countries (including China, America, Australia, Sweden, Germany and Italy). It is not just a television show. Robots also take part in charity events and other organised, robotic live events where people go to watch. UK Robot Wars has been incredible successful, not just the television side of it, but also because it sells a wide variety of merchandise. See History of Robot Wars on how it all begun! There have also been other robotic combat shows on television, such as Battlebots, an American version of Robot Wars. This has slightly different rules, format and it doesn't have any house robots!

Tactics

Someone once said to me that Robot Wars is boring, all it is, is pieces of metal pushing each other around, banging into each other with no purpose at all! I said that there are many tactics involved and he refused to believe in such things! May I say that this is not true and I no longer have any communication with this person! Robot Wars has many tactics, used well and you could reign triumph. Read this and you could be on your way to becoming Robot Wars number 1!

House Robots

The house robots are gladiatorial robots with a purpose to completely cause havoc, chaos and destruction in the war zone. Stay out of their way at all costs but they can be made to your advantage! How? Push your opponent into one of these mean and nasty house robots. The CPZs (Corner Patrol Zones) are in each of the 4 corners of the arena. Two house robots (not including Refbot) are in the arena during a battle. These robots changing during the course of the heat. A tactic is to push your opponent into a CPZ where a house robot is and only then is a house robot allowed to attack the robot. Be careful though, if you accidentally drive into a CPZ, a house robot could get you and you will also e marked down on the judges' scoring sheets. See house robots for detailed information on the house robots. Now, there is another time when these machines of mayhem are allowed to wreck their havoc in the war zone and damage a competitor robot. When a robot hasn't moved for a certain length of time, Refbot (the only non-hostile house robot, there to make sure everyone is obeying the rules and so things don't get out of hand in the arena) counts them out by counting from 1 to 10. If after the countdown, they haven't moved, they are deemed out of the battle as they are immobilised. House robots are then allowed to attack causing as much damage as they want. This involves their own weapons and also the house robots take you to many of the arena hazards. The house robot then dumps the immobilised robot either in the pit or out of the arena and then you have to take your robot home in several plastic bags! So, take my advice and stay out of the house robots' way. However, many contestant robots think they are good enough to take on a house robot and many have been successful in their attempts before, pushing house robots into the pits and flipping them over making them useless in that battle. Great stuff - I love it when it happens!

The house robots we have today are: Shunt, Dead Metal, Matilda, Sir Killalot, Mr Psycho, Refbot, Growler, Sgt Bash and Cassius Chrome.

The Arena and its Hazards

These can catch anyone out. They can be also used to your advantage by pushing your opponent into or over a hazard which not only causes damage but also gains you points if it goes to a judges' decision. Some hazards are the end for a robot and makes you the winner if you manage to get your opponent into one of these (e.g. the pit). Below are details on the arena hazards. These are good tactics so use them well. All these hazards are dangerous and you must drive with care when near one because you may intend to push your opponent into a hazard, but you end up in their instead and it is goodbye to you! Take caution!

Note that some hazards are there to cause damage to a robot and immobilise the opposition and others are there only to cause damage to already immobilised and dead robots.

House robots - Push a robot into a CPZ where these robots patrol to gain you points on the judges' scoring cards and to cause damage to the other robot. See above. Also see house robots.

Flame Pit - If you manage to push your opponent over a flame grill in the arena, where flames come up, then you could cause damage to the opposition. The flames will not cause visual damage (unless the robot is made of flammable material like Diotoir) but will burn the inside workings of a robot and could immobilise them. It works well if the opponent has a petrol driven engine!

The Pit of Oblivion - Hit the pit release button at the end of the arena with your robot and a siren will sound as the pit lowers and a hole in the arena is made. If you manage to push your opponent into this, there is no escape and you are crowned the winner as a puff of smoke fills the arena as the opponent is pushed into the pit.

Arena Flipper - When a robot is immobilised, it can be pushed on to the flipper. The audience shouts "Flip Flip Flip" as the powerful arena flipper pushes up, propelling the robot right across the arena. Great fun to watch!

Side Wall Grinders - Push a robot on to these and sparks will fly as grinding discs slowly cut up the robot. This is probably the hazard which causes the least damage to a robot. Sometimes, robots can become jammed underneath a grinder and Refbot will have to push it free.

The Drop Zone - Sometimes the end for immobilised robots. A house robot can push a robot on to an `X` on the arena floor. After a countdown from the audience, any old house hold item may fall on to the poor, defenseless robot beneath. These can be car parts, cookers, washing machines, ocean buoys or bowling balls! Great entertainment!

CO2 Gas Jets - Again, doesn't cause visual damage but can damage internal workings of a robot. High pressurised carbon dioxide gas jets come up from the arena floor when a robot is pushed on to one of the outlets so stay away from these!

Out of the Arena - The arena side walls are quite low so, if you can manage to line up your opponent and charge your flipper, then you may be able to flip the robot right out of the arena. This is great fun to watch but also means that the flipping robot is the winner of that battle. Chaos 2 was the first robot to flip a robot out of the arena and many more have now done the same. Firestorm was the first ever robot to be flipped out of the arena and it was during the Third Wars.

Diagram of the Arena

Above is a scale diagram of the arena showing you where many parts of the arena are on the warzone's battle scarred surface including the pit, drop zone, flipper, CPZs and side wall angle grinders. You can also see, in the above diagram, where the gates (located below where Craig Charles stands) are and what type of robot (either contestant or house robot) comes through that particular gate/door. Diagram/picture Robot Wars. 

Other Tactics

  • Practice your driving skills to perfection. Often a badly built robot that is well driven can win a battle against a brilliant robot that is poorly driven. Gain experience from taking part in other robotic combat events, such as charity events, live events and others.

  • Sometimes it is useful to inspect your opposition before the battle. By doing this, you can target their weak spots which you can attack during the battle. Weak areas could be a lack of armour, weak armour or where internal workings show. Attack a robot where their weapon doesn't hit. Also by knowing information about the other robot such as its speed or if its weapon is not working can be used to your advantage.

Now, where is that fool who said that there weren't any tactics in Robot Wars? I will set Mr Psycho on him!

The Show

The format of the show changes each series. It generally goes like this: In round one, two or more robots fight. The losers are eliminated and the winners go on to the next round. In round 2, there are a few head to head battles starring the winners from the first round. The winners of round 2 then fight it out against each other to determine the winner of the show who goes into the semi-finals. The winners of the semi-finals go into the final which determines the grand champion of Robot Wars for that particular series.

That is what happens in the main series of Robot Wars. There are other programmes such as Robot Wars Extreme which has many battles such as tag-team terrors, annihilators, mayhems, wild card warriors and battles like that. These are special tournaments and not so serious competitions designed to give roboteers practice and the audience entertainment. There is also the Robot Wars World Champion where robots from around the world fight under one roof to see which country will win the world championship of Robot Wars and to see which country has the better machines! Soon Robot Wars will be like the world cup, arenas will be located all around the world where competitions are held. Basically it is action packed robot destruction. It is all extremely fun and incredibly addictive to watch!

Winners

For the winners of the main UK Robot Wars competition for all the series so far, click here. They battled well, working their way up and winning the grand final! Congratulations to all of them!

Presenters

In Series One it was Jeremy Clarkson as presenter of the show. In Series Four and for Robot Wars Extreme it was Julia Reed as the pit reporter. All other times (except for the Seventh Wars onwards - see below), it has been the main two presenters: Craig Charles and Philippa Forrester. Also, don't forget Jonathan Pearce for the wonderful commentary! Philippa was replaced by Jayne Middlemiss as pit reporter from the Seventh Wars onwards. For more information on the presenters, click here.

Philippa Forrester and Craig Charles

A picture of the two wonderful presenters of Robot Wars in series 2: Philippa Forrester and Craig Charles. Please note that Philippa no longer presents Robot Wars because she was replaced by Jayne Middlemiss from the Seventh Wars onwards.

Production of Robot Wars

Mentorn have produced Robot Wars for the BBC and other television companies from 1997 onwards. Mentorn are the people who also make Techno Games. Channel Five now shows Robot Wars in the UK.

Memorial Phrases

"Roboteers, stand by"

"Three, two, one, Activate!"          "Cease" 

"Let battle commence"        "Let the wars begin!"

"Pit Pit Pit"  "Flip Flip Flip"  "Burn Burn Burn"  "Drop Drop Drop"

Craig's Best Poetry

Craig always does some rhythmic poetry at the end of each show before he kisses his fingers and says "goodnight" and these are a few of his best:

"You've seen strange things happen behind closed doors, but nothing's quite so wicked as Robot Wars."

"You can ask for robot presents from Santa Claus, but you'd better beg for mercy from Robot Wars!"

"You can stick your vegetarians and your old carnivores, we only eat metal here on Robot Wars!"

"We've had hundreds of robots banging on the doors, but only the best get on Robot Wars!"

"Beware competitors who've got glass jaws, we don't pull our punches on Robot Wars!"

"If there's one thing that your television licence ensures, it's robot mayhem on Robot Wars!"

"We don't use camera tricks or hidden trap doors, the danger's for real on Robot Wars!"

"We've got our own rules, and we've got our own laws, but controversy rules on Robot Wars!"

"While the roboteers, on their fingernails gnaw, it's always time for action here on Robot Wars."

"If you look in a teepee, you'll find Indian squaws, wishing they had a telly to watch Robot Wars!"

"Forget about polishing the arena floor, it's covered in debris after Robot Wars!"

The First War

Transmission Date: 1998
Host: Jeremy Clarkson
Co-Host: Philippa Forrester 
Commentator: Jonathan Pearce
House robots: Dead Metal, Sergeant Bash, Shunt and Matilda.
Winner of this Series: Road Block

Robot Wars, the first wars looked nothing like it does today. The first round was The Gauntlet. Here, six robots had to make it the furthest down the course in the least amount of time within the time limit. They had to go through obstacles like house robots (the house robots looked completely different in series one and two than they do now, vast improvements have been made since), brick walls, grinders which move close together, the pit, the flame pit to try and get to the finish line. The robot who got the least distance down The Gauntlet was eliminated. Round two was The Trials which changed every week to make the show more interesting. Sometimes it was Sumo Basho which is when you have to try and stay on the platform with Shunt as long as possible without him pushing you off, you can try and push Shunt off. Other trials tested not only strength but driving skills, speed, traction and so on. They had a king of the castle round with Matilda and also a round which you had to knock over the most "explosive" barrels in the least amount of time with the house robots as obstacles. The robot who performed the worst in The Trials was eliminated. The third round was The arena. This is where the four remaining robots battled each other out. The robots tried to destroy their opponent, push them into arena hazards and into the PPZ (perimeter patrol zone) where the house robots waited patrolling around the arena to get a robot in their grips. If a robot became immobilised, they were out and if time was up first, it went to a judges decision. The two remaining robots battled it out in a fight to determine the robot who will proceed into the semis and eventually into the grand final.

Road Block

The winner of the first wars, Road Block.

Click here for more information on the First Wars.

The Second Wars

Transmission Date: 1998 - 1999
Host: Craig Charles
Co-Host: Philippa Forrester   
Commentator: Jonathan Pearce
House robots: Dead Metal, Sergeant Bash, Shunt, Matilda and Sir Killalot.
Winner of this Series: Panic Attack 

This was almost the same as the first wars except for a new house robot, a new presenter and The Sentinel for The Gauntlet round which was a giant pneumatic arm in the course which span round knocking robots which got in their path into the pit.

The Sentinel

The Sentinel on the end of the arena.

Click here for more information on the Second Wars.

The Third Wars

Transmission Date: 1999 - 2000
Host: Craig Charles
Co-Host: Philippa Forrester
Commentator: Jonathan Pearce
House robots: Dead Metal, Sergeant Bash, Shunt, Matilda and Sir Killalot.
Winner of this Series: Chaos 2

This series completely re-vamped the format of Robot Wars and much improved it. The show was also extended from 30 minutes as it was for series one and two to 45 minutes allowing for some more battle time. They also completely scrapped the games round of The Gauntlet and The Trials to allow only for battles. Basically, first it is the eliminator rounds where two robots per battle fight it out eliminating the worst robot. The winning robots go through to the next round who fight it out until there are just two who fight it out in the final battle which will determine who will go to the semis and so on. Another big difference for the show is the CPZ (corner patrol zone) instead of the PPZ so the house robots are in the corners and not around the whole arena. This means that the contestant robots can fight with each other instead of the house robots doing all the work. House robots can only attack if a contestant robot goes into their CPZ or if the contestant robot is immobilised. Half way in the show, there is a little break between battles where you will see either the pinball round or the robo soccer round which are little games which will have a winner at the end of the series. The soccer is where a team of robots tries to score as many goals as they can with Matilda playing with them and Dead Metal in goal. Pinball is where the robot tries to get as many points as it can by knocking things down, hitting targets, going through obstacles, pushing balls into the pit or whatever which scores the robot points. There are also the house robots trying to get in the way and stop the playing robot scoring points. The robot with the most points at the end of the series is the pinball champion. As before, Philippa Forrester is pit reporter, reporting on damage to contestant robots, talking about battles and having a gossip before fights with the roboteers in the pits. In this series, all the house robots have been greatly improved. Dead Metal was improved the most with a completely new front and circular saw.

Click here for more information on the Third Wars.

The Fourth Wars

Transmission Date: 2000 - 2001
Host: Craig Charles
Co-Host: Julia Reed  
Commentator: Jonathan Pearce
House robots: Dead Metal, Sergeant Bash, Shunt, Matilda, Sir Killalot and Refbot.
Winner of this Series: Chaos 2 

Similar to Series 3 with few changes. Julia Reed replaces Philippa because she is pregnant and Refbot comes on for the first time to make sure all the robots are behaving. Also, the spikes are removed from the arena so the robots can do damage to other robots (especially the house robots) and not the spikes. The set is also completely different looking much different and allowing a bigger audience. The fighting format is the same as Series 3 but it does have Pinball and Sumo Basho (Sumo is the one where the robot tries to stay on the platform as long as possible without Shunt pushing them off and they can try to push Shunt off) half way during the show. Robo Soccer isn't in this series. Also, the first fight, the eliminator, allows three robots in the arena fighting (previously it was two at first), one is eliminated and the rest go trough to fight in further battles (one against one in these further battles) until two remain who battle it out until just one is left which goes through to the semi-finals later on in the series. The CPZ remains with four house robots in the arena at one time (not including Refbot). The arena flipper can flip better and the pit now raises and lowers so robots don't fall down it all the time which was the problem with the previous series of Robot Wars - you always knew what was going to happen, they would fall down the pit! Not so predictable now because the pit is mostly covered. There are also mini flame pits around the arena as well as the big one near one of the side walls.

Click here for more information on the Fourth Wars.

The Fifth Wars

Transmission Date: 2002
Host: Craig Charles 
Co-Host: Philippa Forrester
Commentator: Jonathan Pearce
House robots: Dead Metal, Sergeant Bash, Shunt, Matilda, Sir Killalot and Refbot.
Winner of this Series: Razer 

Much improved series. Most of the previous problems have now been eliminated. There is a new and much improved set which also allows more room for audience members and opening and closing doors on the arena allow for robots to enter and exit easier than before. The weight limit has been raised from 80kg to 100kg which will allow for more weapons on contestant robots which means more carnage! There is also a pit release button which when pressed will lower the pit so the pit can be controlled by a contestant robot if he/she thinks they can get their opponent down the pit. There are also jets of carbon dioxide gas coming up from the arena which can cause damage, the flame pit is back and also the arena flipper is back for some more flipping action. The arena side walls have better grinders on which can create more sparks than ever before! There are only two house robots in each battle instead of four (not including Refbot). The house robots vary so sometimes it can be Shunt and Sir Killalot and other times it can be Matilda and Sgt Bash or whatever, you know what I mean, I hope. There are also more battles now because they have got rid of Pinball and any in between games which means that they have more robots in the show than any other series before. First it is the eliminating rounds where two robots fight eliminating one in each battle. Then, the remaining four robots (the show started with eight robots) fight it out in two battles (two robots in each battle) and the two remaining robots (the winner from each of the round two battles) fight it out in the final battle which will determine the robot who will proceed into the semi-finals. So, in series five, there are seven battles (more than ever before) which is more exciting. They have also cut the chit chat between battles which was (in my opinion) a good idea so we can get to more action faster and see some more carnage. The house robots have also been improved, find out about the improvements by reading my Fifth Wars section in this website.

Click here for more information on the Fifth Wars.

The Sixth Wars

Transmission Date: 2002 - 2003
Host: Craig Charles
Co-Host: Philippa Forrester
Commentator: Jonathan Pearce
House robots: Dead Metal, Sergeant Bash, Shunt, Matilda, Sir Killalot, Refbot, Mr Psycho and Growler.
Winner of this Series: Tornado

This was filmed at RAF Newton near Nottingham in early July 2002. There are a number of improvements to this series making it the best ever series of Robot Wars ever. Improvements include the two new house robots (Growler and Mr Psycho) which will bring loads more carnage and destruction to the show with their awesome weapons. Their weapons are big chomping jaws which will bite and crush other robots (Growler) and Mr P's weapons are a big claw which will pick up robots and a heavy hammer smashing down on robots beneath. Other than the two new house 'bots, there is the inclusion of the two new arena hazards: the Drop Zone (where ovens, washing machines, cars, bowling balls and other household items are dropped from the arena roof on to robots on the arena floor flattening them and causing maximum destruction) and the other hazard is the Disc-of-Doom which will spin on the arena floor spinning robots out of control but will need a button on the arena wall to activate it just like the pit. Other improvements include the buttons (like the pit release button) have now been modified so they don't rip, break or come off as easily as they did before. There are also new camera angles. The house robots have their cameras back bringing the brilliant house 'bot cam showing us close ups of all the action happening in the arena. There is also the Drop Zone cam which shows the load being dropped on the robots from the arena roof and the damage cam which Philippa will use to show close ups of any damage caused by robots. Other improvements include the costumes which Craig and Philippa now wear. It will take a bit of getting use to until you get used to Craig's new Formula 1 look but Philippa's costume is much better than before. Another improvement is the elimination of the house robot statistics which don't come up anymore because it got a bit annoying seeing t