Robot Wars: A guide to the new series
James R | On 24, Jul 2016
Robot Wars is back. That’s something you never expected to read in 2016, right? But reboot everyone’s favourite carnival of metallic carnage the BBC has, with six episodes and 40 robots on the cards, it’s bigger and more brutal than ever – the Beeb even had to build a bullet-proof arena in Glasgow just to film it.
The series begins at 8pm on BBC Two on Sunday 24th July. So what’s changed? What hasn’t? And is Sir Killalot still as badass as ever?
Here’s a guide to rebooted Robot Wars:
The arena measure 20m x 20m squared and is 7m high – more than enough space for chaos to unfold. There are 16 tonnes of polycarbonate (bulletproof glass), with 27,864 screws and 18,547 bolts holding everything in place – just enough to keep the audience protected from flying scraps of metal. Alongside the House Robots and other contenders, the arena also contains the dangerous hazards of Fire, Spikes, The Flipper and The Iconic Pit.
The House Robots
All your favourite House Robots are back: Sir Killalot (now 40% heavier but twice as fast at 10mph), Matilda (twice as heavy and 75% faster at 14mph), Shunt (three times heavier, with a titanium axe to go with his front plough and rear bucket scoop), and Dead Metal (three times heavier, capable of speeds of 13mph and boasting a 4000rpm circular saw).
40 teams of robot builders will battle it out over six episodes to become 2016’s champion.
Each episode has eight competing robots. The action starts with two group battles, with four robots in each battle. The top two robots from each group battle then go through to head to head battles where all four robots fight each other once. The top two then compete in the episode final – the winner going through to the Grand Final.
In each round of the competition, the robots will fight in a timed battle. The winner will be decided by a knockout, which can happen in three ways:
1. Flipping an opponent out of the arena into the surrounding trench.
2. Manoeuvring your opponent into the ‘pit’ hazard inside the arena.
3. Immobilising your opponent for 10 seconds through extensive damage or your opponent breaks down and is therefore not able to continue.
If there is no clear winner once the time runs out, a panel of expert judges are on hand to decide the winners. Judge scores will be based on Aggression (consistently taking the battle to its opponents), Damage (causing clear damage to an opponent both visually and internally) and Control (demonstrating good driving skills and weapon accuracy) – so long to “Style”, one of the original show’s categories. Each category will be scored from one to five and the scores are weighted to reflect their importance as follows: Aggression x 3, Damage x 2, and Control x 1.
Goodbye, Jeremy Clarkson. So long, Philippa Forrester. Farewell, Craig Charles. Hello to Dara Ó Briain and Angela Scanlon, who will be the new hosts of Robot Wars.
The charming Dara O Briain, who has become a staple in the Beeb’s line-up of science presenters, said he was “thrilled” to take over hosting duties.
“For too long, the schedules have cried out for a show in which dedicated amateurs, toiling day and night, handcraft sophisticated automatons built on the delicate interplay of hand-wired servo motors with custom-built circuit boards and fingertip motion control, just to see them get smashed to pieces by a dustbin carrying a massive hammer,” he commented.
The exuberant Scanlon, meanwhile, has moved from Instagram to TV screens at an impressive speed, hosting shows on BBC Northern Ireland and RTE (OI GINGER), reporting for The One Show, and interviewing celebrities for BBC Three’s Close Encounters.
The three Robot Wars judges are:
Professor Noel Sharkey
Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at Sheffield University, Prof Sharkey is the only judge to appear in every series of Robot Wars. Prof Sharkey is also a co-director of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics.
Professor Sethu Vijayakumar
A world-renowned roboticist and Director at the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics in the School of Informatics at University of Edinburgh.
Doctor Lucy Rogers
Doctor of Mechanical Engineering and owner of engineering consultancy, Makertorium Ltd, also business and technology communications specialist and author of It’s Only Rocket Science.
Robots will face three battle rounds per show:
Group Battles (Episodes 1 to 5)
The eight competing robots are split into two groups of four. Each group fight each other at the same time in a three-minute battle. The two winners from each group progress to the next round and the two losers from each group are eliminated from the competition.
Head to Heads (Episodes 1 to 5)
The four winning robots from the group battles will all enter the mini league, called The Head to Heads. Each robot will fight all of the other robots once in that league, in a series of three minute-long battles. To ensure fairness, the presenters will draw names at random to decide which robot will fight first.
A win by knockout scores three points, but if the time runs out and there is no winner it will go to the judges to decide the winner – and that robot will score two points.
The Finals (Episodes 1 to 5)
The two robots in first and second place will go through to the final for another three-minute battle. The winner goes through to the Grand Final at the end of the series.
The Grand Final (Episode 6)
Six teams and their robots start the show. They will be comprised of the five winners from Episodes 1 to 5 and one runner-up selected by the judges based on their merits from their previous episode. The finalists will face up to three rounds as per the first five episodes to decide the ultimate winner.
Here are the robots competing in the 2016 series:
Behemoth (returning from the original series)
Razer (returning from the original series)
Terrorhurtz (returning from the original series)
Disconstructor (returning from the original series)
M.R Speed Squared
Thor (returning from the original series)
Tough as Nails (returning from the original series)
Big Nipper (returning from the original series)
Dantomkia (returning from the original series)
King B Remix
Sabretooth (returning from the original series)
Storm 2 (returning from the original series)
Terror Turtle (returning from the original series)
Chompalot (returning from the original series)
Crazy Coupe 88
Thermidor 2 (returning from the original series)
Where do these robots rank in Robot Wars history? Read our countdown of the 25 greatest robots in the whole of the series.