One of the bigger competitions the BattleBots subteam has attended over the years has been Motorama, a car show in Harrisburg Pennsylvania that also has a combat robotics competition (Motorama Robot Conflict) hosted by NERC (Northeast Robotics Club). The competition has robots all across weight classes, from the diminutive 1 lb antweights all the way up to 30 lb featherweights and sportsman.
Motorama 2021 was canceled due to the pandemic, but this year Motorama returned, as did RoboJackets’ combat robots to the competition. This year, RoboJackets brought a new batch of 3lbers from the 3lb program, as well as 3 new larger bots: Chonkii (45 lb shuffling shell spinner), Hocki (12 lb meltybrain spinner), and Bucki (12lb pneumatic flipper). You can read more about these bots’ and other big bots’ designs in an earlier newsletter article.
Chonkii (Fights: Chonkii vs. Marathon Chonkii vs. Yahoo, Chonkii vs. Pigeon) gave the best competition performance of the larger bots at motorama, with a 2-2 win/loss ratio. Chonki was able to use its increased weight and robust drive to maintain control and deal good hits to its opponents, even if it often wound up on its back, leading to knockouts. Its shell was machined from a single piece of A36 steel, giving it impressive robustness. Ultimately, Chonkii was eliminated when it had to forfeit its last match because the team was unable to make repairs to bring it to a fourth fight.
Hocki (Fights: Hocki vs. Bucki, Hocki vs. War? HARD! XL, Hocki vs. Night Crawler) had a slightly worse competition performance, with a 1-2 win/loss. The first fight (and win) was against Bucki, which did not power on and was, unfortunately, a quick KO, in the announcer’s words, by intimidation. Hocki was originally built in the 2020-2021 year, but did not attend any competitions, so was brought to this competition instead to test how well the meltybrain system would work. Although Hocki was able to be knocked into the air and KO’d quickly, the meltybrain system worked, and the robot was able to spin up and move in a controlled fashion.
Bucki, unfortunately, had several issues that prevented them from competing at their best. The team had issues getting the robot to start properly in the first match, and they later had issues getting the pneumatic flipping system to work, which resulted in them forfeiting and their elimination from the tournament. Despite flipping issues at Motorama, Bucki was able to flip several times during testing, and demonstrated feasibility of the system. Pneumatics functioning at the hobbyweight class, even in testing, is an achievement worth being proud of. Based on this, the team learned several lessons, including areas for improvement in design for assembly. The conclusion that the team came to was to try using pneumatics at higher weight classes, where there is more weight to work with.
As usual, RoboJackets also brought a bevy of 3lb robots, made by new members as part of the training program: Blasphemi, Insaniti, Papajonni, RickandMorti, Singulariti, and Velociti. You can read more about these bot’s designs in an earlier issue of the newsletter.
Only one day of the beetleweight competition is available on YouTube at time of writing: Beetleweights Day 1. In addition to Motorama, the 3lbers have iterated their designs and, by the time you read this, will have competed in an internal competition in late April.
Blasphemi (Fights: Blasphemi vs. Purple Nation Army) is a 3lb ring spinner, a challenging design, especially in such a small weight class. Blasphemi lost both of its fights, but the ring spinning system remained functional through most of its run and the ring took very little damage. The team plans to make the ring even more robust by improving the wheel interface with the internal surface and making the ring out of a single piece of material.
Insaniti (Fights: Insaniti vs. Carotz, Grudge match vs. Singulariti) is a vertical spinner. Unfortunately, Insaniti also lost both of its fights, but saw better performance in a grudge match with another RoboJackets bot and demonstrated solid spinning. The major flaw with the design is that there is an angle the robot can rest on that prevents it from righting itself and losing by knockout. Eliminating this is a major improvement for future iterations.
Papajonni (Fights: Papajonni vs. Walter, Papajonni vs. Purple Nation Army) is a horizontal spinner. The team took on a bold approach, aiming to build their motor into their weapon, however issues with implementing the design prevented it from functioning properly in competition. The team plans to change to a more typical belt and pulley design for their next version.
RickandMorti (Fights: RickandMorti vs. Rachet) is another horizontal bar spinner, using the more standard belt and pulley design. The team fought two other horizontal spinners, and lost both matches, resulting in elimination. The team attributes their performance to the fact that their weapon system drew so much power that they could not simultaneously run the weapon and drive. The team plans to adjust this to enable better overall function in their next iteration.
Singulariti (Fights: Singulariti vs. Strong 4, Singulariti vs. Malice, Singulariti vs. Up Chuck) was another vertical spinner, utilizing a four-wheeled drive system and 3D printed armor, among other components. It had the best competition performance among the 3lbers, going 2-2. The weapon system was robust and gave solid hits, disabling one opponent’s weapon system with a belt hit, and flipping another opening up on their side, resulting in a KO. The main improvements are small tweaks to armor and mechanical systems, as well as making a more robust electronics system.
Velociti (fights: Velociti vs. Starchild) is the third and final horizontal spinner this year, also using a simple belt-pulley weapon system. It also went 0-2, and was eliminated. The robot was robust enough to remain functional across both matches, however moving forward the team plans to increase defenses with thicker and more robust armor.
Despite limited competition performance at Motorama, the team demonstrated feasibility of a few difficult to implement robot designs, and saw some successful wins in both weight classes. The cherry on top of the experience was a rumble with all the 3lb bots (and one joke “robot” known only as Vijay Car) against Chonkii and Crab King (an iteration on a RoboJackets robot by RoboJackets Alumni), which you can watch here: RJ (and Alumni) Rumble.