BattleBots and Robot Sports


During the first half of 2011, I had an incredible opportunity. I had the chance to join an intramural sports team at my university. I was the driver too, the captain if you will, for this most brutal of sports. I had my skin ripped off me and my one match left me immovable, my wheels broken. Despite my loss, I will gladly pick up my remote control again to drive in another battlebot completion if I had the chance.

The term battlebot comes from television show Battlebots, a robot coopetition where teams created machines of war and set them up against each other to see who has the best bot. A Comedy Central show in the early 2000s, the show currently runs on ABC. The final episode of the current season airs tonight as I write this, but it was a fantastic six weeks of robot carnage and mayhem. There is just something about two robots killing each other for your enjoyment that brings you right in and doesn’t let go.

The ABC reboot made some obvious changes to the tournament, some good and some bad. The Comedy Central showing was just another Comedy Channel show. It revved up the comedy and spectacle, but it was light on it. Most of the show was dedicated to the bots and the fights, with the play by play announced by engineers and scientists, and became a cult classic. You can’t go wrong with Bill Nye, the Science Guy, as a pit reporter.

The ABC reboot replaced the comedy with drama. It had too much drama at times with announces who had no idea what they were talking about. As a bot driver myself, I cringed at time at the things that came out of their mouths. I just hope the pain was worth it. If this is what robot sports needs to gather the non-nerds, I guess it must be done. They could have given us more fights per episode instead of the four per week we got.

Still, Battlebots was fun while it lasted. I hope they manage a second season, but I need more robot on robot action. If ABC needs inspiration, there is that giant robot fight happening next year they can use for promotion. They could even air the annual Combot Tournament to fill the off seasons or bug the BBC into rebooting Robot Wars. I just want more robot sports on national television. Is that too much to ask?

Until the second season of Battlebots comes, we have to settle with tonight’s Season One finale. I’m routing for Tombstone even though the winner was already determined during the May taping. Still, it will be a great night for us nerds. Come join us at 9 PM EDT if you’re a bit nerdy as well. We can celebrate the death of robots together.

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