BattleBots Week 2 Recap – Flames, Lamé, and a Fishing Net?

Geek Culture Robotics
Less than 3 seconds into the match and Witch Doctor has to catch a flight.
Less than 3 seconds into the match and Witch Doctor has to catch a flight.

It’s week two of the BattleBots reboot and GeekDad will be doing weekly breakdowns of the competition. This week, we have Anton Olsen and Kishore Hari doing breakdowns of the best bouts. Spoilers galore, so beware if you did not watch.


Kishori Hari: Surprisingly, this week provided 8 bouts instead of the usual 4, partly because some of the fights lacked some punch. We got 2 good fights, some ginned-up drama between two teams, loads of fire, but still no Bobak Ferdowsi. Seriously, why hire the guy who flew a robot to Mars as a sideline reporter if you don’t give him any screen time? I’m glad I DVR’ed it so I could fast forward through all the host back-and-forth filler.

Anton Olsen: This week seemed to be less exciting than last week, but we still got our fill of robot destruction. A couple of the bouts were very one-sided with only a couple of the losers getting in any significant hits. As for the 4 matches that they just touched on, I suspect they were even less exciting and wouldn’t make good TV. Seriously, where is Bobak? He’s got a great personality and geeks love him!

#1: Overhaul vs Lockjaw

KH: This was the most technically interesting and even bout with exceptional driving on both sides. Both bots were trying to lift/pinch each other throughout the match – driving each other into the hazards. Overhaul thoroughly owned the first half of the match. Overhaul appeared top heavy to me, but was low enough off the ground to get in numerous good lifts. Lockjaw finished with the one strong hit into the screws, but I didn’t think it was enough to earn the win. I really wish we got to see the big pincher from Overhaul in action. I LOVED the ginned-up no-handshake issue with the late hit. It fed into the MIT “brat” vibe of that team, but I bet there was a bit of creative editing.

AO: I felt like this was the best match for offensive driving. Both robots ran well, both did a great job at attacking and trading blow for blow the entire round. I felt that Lockjaw got in a few more solid hits than Overhaul, but this match could have gone either way. As for the late hit, it’s up to the judges to decide, and I’ll assume they chose to ignore it since no significant damage was done. Having an opponent disqualified is a very sad way to win a match.


Meet Lockjaw

AO: Lockjaw is an old favorite of mine and they have a great drivetrain and great driving team, but their design is a bit dated and I’m not sure their weapon is up to handle the heavier robots in this competition. They have three good opportunities to flip Overhaul but couldn’t manage it because of the weight.

KH: Lockjaw is a classic bot, but I was hoping to see more updates for this show. We heard in the behind-the-scenes about fire capabilities, but never saw that in the match. I can’t imagine Lockjaw keeping up with the heavy duty spinners – it seems underpowered heading into the next round.


Meet Overhaul

KH: I loved the “shuffle” walker on Overhaul. Not easy to see during the match – but the continuous cam mover provided a tremendous amount of traction. It proved to be vulnerable from a high-speed side attack, which was their undoing.

AO: Overhaul had the MIT brat thing going well. They are obviously smart kids and built a formidable robot, but I was slightly annoyed by the handshake drama. I’m sure the editors played it up, but late hit or not, it is still good sportsmanship to shake hands. We’ll get to see them again as they were picked as a wildcard.

#2: Bronco vs Witch Doctor

KH: The MVP was the mini bot Shaman! Somehow that little guy should be moving on from this match. Bronco bucked Witch Doctor into the next zip code, while I oooed and awed over the flame.

AO: This match was extremely exciting and while it appeared to be very one-sided. The match starts with Bronco aggressively ramming Witch Doctor and flipping him end for end through the air. Witch Doctor’s only hope was to bring his high energy weapon in contact with Bronco’s wheels, but it just wasn’t happening. The mini bot with flames was awesome, but I think Bronco is armored well enough to withstand a little heat.


Meet Bronco

AO: I love the speed of Bronco’s flipper. I’ve seen him compete once live and he was bouncing opponents off the top of the arena. Bronco also has a fast drivetrain with a great driver. He can swing around quickly and evade most attacks. I was pleasantly surprised to see Bronco using a VEX VRC Joystick to control his robot. I know he has at least a couple VEX Pro Victor 885’s in there too.

KH: Watching those robots struggle to climb stairs at the DARPA challenge makes Bronco’s flipper even more impressive. So fast, so powerful, but it’s the maneuverability that’s key to keep advancing. Can it keep its wheels safe in the next round?

Witch Doctor

Meet Witch Doctor

AO: Witch Doctor got a wildcard pick so we’ll see them again. I hope in their next match they get a chance to show off the power of their weapon.

KH: Shaman mini bot! Even though they got a wild card, I don’t see Witch Doctor lasting long. It just didn’t seem to have enough power in their weapon. Speed is really their only weapon that may work. But I want more Shaman!

#3: Counter Revolution vs Tombstone

AO: A quick and destructive match that proved high energy weapons are scary. Technically this match was over after the first hit, but Tombstone had to tap Counter Revolution a couple more times for dramatic flair. Counter Revolution didn’t even have a chance to hit back. The audience showed up to see robotic destruction and that is exactly what Tombstone delivered.

KH: Run. Away. That’s my advice for Tombstone opponents – easily my pick to win it all. It was over in 6 seconds, only because Tombstone took its time driving out of its box. Give Counter Revolution full marks for allowing Tombstone to bring the destruction after it was dead in the water.

Counter Revolution

AO: I had doubts about Counter Revolution when I watched their spot on the Tested Youtube channel. Their energy weapons seemed to lack the mass needed to be effective and their armor looked nice, and weak.

KH: It was pretty? I saw this bot up close at Robogames this spring and it was reasonably effective against wedges. No chance against the weight of the spinner.

AO: Counter Revolution was pretty, in a nostalgic way. It made me think of the 16mm film projectors in school that meant no homework for that class!

Less than 9 seconds into the match and Counter Revolution is disabled.
9 seconds into the match and Counter Revolution is disabled.


Meet Tombstone

AO: Tombstone wins the award for most damage inflicted. Aside from the engineering in the blade and body, this is the simplest bot in the arena. It also happens to be the most destructive. His drive motors are controlled by a pair of VEX Pro Victor 885 motor controllers and his weapon is controlled with a simple high current solenoid. I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain!

KH: I blinked and it was over … spectacularly. Tombstone spun to full speed in 2 seconds! I have no idea how the lifters are going to handle the raw power. Speed/maneuverability might be their only downfall.

AO: Full speed in 2 seconds, over in 3. Amazing.

#4: Ghost Raptor vs Complete Control

AO: Holy fishing net, Batman. Without seeing the rules and judging guidelines I can’t say for certain, but my first thought was to disqualify Complete Control. Even if the entanglement rule was omitted, it goes against the spirit of the game. I do have to admit that it made for some interesting conflict on TV. After the net drama the judges and teams agreed to play the match over and Ghost Raptor went on to win it even though they lost half their blade very early in the match.

KH: Full disclosure: a friend is on the Complete Control team. If I’ve learned anything from reality TV, there needs to be a villain, and Derek Young and his gold lamé jacket fits the role. The fishing net was downright dumb, but after the over-the-top serious MMA intro for Chuck Pitzer, I didn’t mind the humor. All that being said, Control should have been disqualified. The rematch was marred by two quick glitches: CC’s mechanical issue from the arena flooring and Ghost Raptor losing a limb early. I wouldn’t want to cross the CC jet flame torch, though it was largely ineffectual. I disagreed with the judgment again, as I thought CC eked out the rematch.

Ghost Raptor

Meet Ghost Raptor

AO: I totally loved the design of this robot until the rotor broke. After looking at the video a couple more times I think their flaw was taking too much material out of the middle of the blade for the shaft. I’ve seen a lawn mower blade fail in exactly the same manner after hitting a large rock. Ghost Raptor is advancing so we will see if they have time to fix the blade and improve on its design.

KH: This is a beauty of design, especially the titanium frame, which is designed to absorb lots of energy through a novel spring designed. The lightweight bar, even though it spun up quickly, seemed to cause instabilities until hitting top speed – almost having a bit of awkward lift. With all the weight in the chassis, I’m not sure they’ll be able to adapt to a single piece heavier bars for the next round.

AO: I felt Ghost Raptor’s control issues were caused by the gyroscopic forces of the blade. Gyros don’t like to be twisted and turned other than on their plane of spin. You see this in the vertical spinners to when they tilt or wobble when turning too fast.

Complete Control

Meet Complete Control

AO: Complete Control did end up with complete control over Ghost Raptor for a while, but not enough to warrant a win.

KH: Man, that beautiful jet flame. Complete Control fought amazingly well considering they essentially couldn’t drive for the entire match. The late match suplex was impressive, but I’m mostly bummed we won’t have any more lamé in the next round.

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