Blood, Sweat, and Gears – the Return of BattleBots

Events Reviews Robotics Technology Television

BBAfter 12 years, the bots are back on TV, and they brought even more destruction. Last night marked the return of Battlebots, this time to network TV. For those with fond memories of the last iteration, the debut did not disappoint.

Filled with the usual over-the-top announcers and heightened drama, this iteration also supplied robotics heavy hitters with judges Fon Davis, an early Battlebots competitor, Leland Melvin, astronaut extraordinaire, and sideline reporter Bobak Ferdowsi, who helped land a robot on Mars. The show is high on action with 4 fast paced bouts in each episode. Virtually all of the competitors are long time Battlebots veterans, lending to fierce ready-for-TV battles. While the arena had numerous obstacles and hazards (saws, hammers, fire, etc), the battles largely stayed focused on the competitors.

The show also spends a fair amount of time with the builders; there were 4 different pieces profiling a few of the teams, often on their personal and build history. Icewave’s lead builder, Marc DeVidts, shared how he grew with a single mom, built robots in his garage, and parlayed that into a full-fledged career as founder of Double Robotics, a telepresence robotics company. And Marc’s robot did not disappoint – Icewave is a gasoline powered robot, which spins a deadly blade at 300 mph.

For an even more in-depth look at the robots, Tested has released behind-the-scenes videos with each team, delving deep into the strategy, design, and engineering.

Battlebots taped in the San Francisco Bay Area last month. I was planning on attending, but stayed away after reading the brutal reviews on the experience. My expectations were accordingly very low for the show, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was fun, light-hearted mayhem with a slight educational twist.

Sure, the 4 bouts could have easily been condensed into a half hour, but I enjoyed how the extra time was spent with the teams. I’m hoping we hear more from the judges and Bobak in future weeks, diving into the engineering and especially the repair process. I definitely plan on a return trip to the arena next week.


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1 thought on “Blood, Sweat, and Gears – the Return of BattleBots

  1. “Sure, the 4 bouts could have easily been condensed into a half hour, but I enjoyed how the extra time was spent with the teams.”

    Or they could have cut some of those neverending commercial breaks, which must have totaled half the show, and run 6 matches per hour.

    Network execs and advertisers, how come in this age of web banners and scrolling news feeds we still have to sit through interminable commercial breaks? Next week I’ll be recording on DVR and fast-forwarding, or else watching on YouTube.

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