2013 Dragon*Con - Robot Battles

My husband and I attended Dragon*Con on Sunday for Robot Combat. Dragon*Con is a four-day multi-genre convention that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia on the Labor Day weekend every year. We missed its annual parade on Saturday this year, where parade participants dressed like monsters, superheros, and etc. However, people were dressed up at the convention for the whole weekend. We were busy taking pictures with participants who wore amazing costumes such as the elf and one of Gru's minions in the animation Despicable Me.

Robot Combat is a competition where two custom-built machines use various methods of destroying the other or pushing the other out of the arena. The machines are usually remote-controlled. The one we went was Robot Battles, which is the second oldest robot competition following Critter Crunch in Denver. This was the 47th Robot Battles and the 23rd year in a roll that Robot Battles took place at the Dragon*Con convention.

Robot Battles was held for Sunday and Monday, featuring small bots and big bots. The one we went on Sunday was for the small bots - Robot MicroBattles. The competition featured an 8' x 8' arena competition for two weight classes of robots - one pound Antweights and three pound Beetleweights.

The rule set for any kind of Robot Combat is usually lengthy. The one for Robot Battles is a bit shorter due to the three "Spirit Rules":

"A. Frankenstein Rule: If a vehicle proves sufficiently offensive to the audience, the audience may, at their discretion, light torches, take pitchforks in hand, and throw the robot and its operator in the nearest creek or large body of water.

B. Bad Idea Rule: If, during the design of your robot, you think that something would be a bad idea, then just don't do it.

C. No cheating! This covers spirit-of-the competition type violations."

However, no matter how "shorter" it is, the rule set is still very long. For the complete rule set, please see here.

There were a large number of robots participating (around 30), so instead of having to win two out of three combat rounds to be declared the winner, it was a single elimination. There was a two minute limit in the Ant and Beetle weight classes. When neither robot achieved a victory condition (i.e., destroying/disabling the other or pushing the other out of the arena), the combat round was declared a draw and both robots began a new round.

There was also a "hazard" area in the middle, where a robot would get shocked by electricity when it fell in. If three successive draws were declared, the hazard area would become a dead zone where a robot was declared lost when it fell in.

In addition to ordinary Weegeebots, there were also robots with vertical or horizontal saws. When the latter were fighting, you could really see sparkles and hear the scary drilling noises like in the dentist's office! I could almost feel the victim robot screaming! At the end there came the rumble where all the robots (that were not fully destroyed in the previous one-on-one combats) fought each other until everybody but one (the winner) was dead.

There were some robotic workshops around in the afternoon. We wend to one related to Electric Vehicles. It was hosted by Charles Guan and his website can be found here.


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