By Cameron Loyd
This year for the first time, the RoboJackets BattleBots team competed in the National Havoc Robot League (NHRL). The NHRL was chosen as an alternative to the much-beloved Motorama as BattleBots’s new yearly “big bots” competition. Four bot teams traveled to NHRL in Norwalk, CT to compete — three 30-lbers (Chonkiii, Anxieti, and Tsunami) and one 12-lber (Hockii). For a refresher on the bot designs and weaponry, read our previous BattleBots overview or our special article on Hockii. As always, the competition was an exciting chance to test the engineering design, manufacturing, and iteration done by the team over the past year.
NHRL is a unique competition league consisting of six qualifying tournaments, held throughout the year, and a world championship in November. NHRL is the largest combat robotics league in the world, and also one of the few that field both 12 lbers and 30 lbers, so there are some fierce competitors. The league structure also means there are several potential competitions, held throughout the summer, for the teams’ robots to enter. The RoboJackets team ended up attending two of these qualifying tournaments— one in March and one in June.
During the March tournament, Anxieti, the 30-lb undercutter, was able to win three matches and reach third place overall in the qualifying bracket. This means that Anxieti and the bot team are qualified to attend the NHRL World Championships in November. You can watch a few of Anxieti’s matches here: Anxieti vs. SAKE SCHTROVN (W), Anxieti vs. Floor Letter Word (W), and Anxieti vs. STF (L). Chonkiii and Tsunami also had good showings, going 2-1 and 1-2 respectively. Hockii is a more experimental bot, but the team still made good progress since last year. All of the bot matches can be seen in the NHRL livestream linked above. Overall, 2022-2023 BattleBots EPM Brian Naing had this to say about the March NHRL event:
“…it was a really cool competition that was focused on providing the builders the best possible experience. I think the teams also mostly enjoyed having more competitive success this year and are more motivated going into next year.”
With the success seen at this tournament, the BattleBots team decided to iterate on Anxieti, Tsunami, and Chonkiii next year and implement the improvements needed based on their tournament performance.
But the year wasn’t over yet! Bolstered by a good showing at the March tournament, the Chonkiii and Tsunami teams decided to attend the June qualifying tournament as well. The competition was fierce, with many nationally top ranked robots attending, as well as competitors traveling in from the UK. Chonkiii, the 30 lb shell-spinning shuffler, fought against the #3 nationally ranked robot, Yahoo, and won its match to earn a #2 tournament seeding; watch the match here. It’s an exciting one, with several big hits, Chonkiii looking very strong, and a tap out from Yahoo at the end. Tsunami, the 30 lb beater bar, also performed well in its matches: Tsunami vs. PanjandruM (W), Tsunami vs. Agent P (W). Unfortunately, both Chonkiii and Tsunami ended up encountering electrical or mechanical issues that prevented them from continuing to fight the good fight. With such a great showing, though, the team is certain to see success in the upcoming year.
The new BattleBots PM for 2023-2024, Siva Appana, had this to say about the June NHRL experience:
“Both teams had an excellent time fighting and repairing their robots for each fight. They were even able to assist other teams with their issues, embellishing the BattleBots community. We look forward to participating more in the general BattleBots community and are excited to see how our robots perform this year.”
Overall, NHRL was a great experience learning and growing for the BattleBots team, and RoboJackets is excited to see more from Anxieti this November.