Dragon*Con Robot Battles 2012
Once again Robot Battles was held in the Hyatt Regency Hotel Ballroom in downtown Atlanta during Dragon*Con. Kelly Lockhart was emcee, referee and comedian. He wore a kilt this year. My team consisted of my wife Ann and Keith Rowell operating my video camera. I took both Overthruster and Omegaforce to enter the 12 and 30 pound classes. New this year (photo above) was an autonomous version of 30# Scary-Go-Round. Yes, autonomous. I only controlled run/stop while the bot used onboard sensors to avoid edges while trying to find and attack opponents .
This year the Hotel decided they didn't want robots mangling their stage risers anymore so required they be protected. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Randy Farmer and others at Freeside Atlanta a protective layer of wood and carpet was acquired and laid over the original stage risers. 3/16 inch thick steel plates provided wedge hazards. It seems like a good plan but didn't work out so well. The carpet bunched up and got hung on various pointy weapons which ripped it to shreds. Bots got hung up on the ripped carpet and carpet fuzz got into gears and sprockets. "Bot Medic" Randy used duct tape to repair the holes but then the duct tape itself became a bot hazard. When it was over the carpet was a total loss.
I removed the smartwedges from Omegaforce this year since the stage risers were is such bad condition they had become ineffective and were a liability. This was before I knew about the new carpet covering the damaged risers. They would have worked fine on it. This put me at a disadvantage from the start. Due to the large number of 12# bots Kelly opted for single elimination format. Omegaforce got a 1st round bye but had to fight Tetanus Shot from Team Evil Robots Inc during the 2nd round. Things didn't go so well. TS punched another big hole in Omegaforce which was not a problem but carpet fuzz got into the sprockets and gummed up the left side drive. Omegaforce became very slow and hard to control. Evil won again with a little help from Murphy.
Overthruster also went wedge-less this year. There was an unforeseen side effect. Without wedges the auto-flipper is fully exposed and when the bot lands on the floor nose first the flipper is triggered. The bot bounces about 4 feet in the air! Several times! Anyway, Overthruster defeated Jaws and Blitz before being taken out by Pinball. In the loser bracket Overthruster was defeated by Nyx which became the new 30# champion.
Autonomous Scary-Go-Round lost both fights. First was against Charles Guans Uberclocker. Scary stayed on the stage a long time before being captured and carried off the edge. The audience seem to love the fact that it was an autonomous robot against a human. Next Scary had to fight Jaws, another lifter bot. Jaws finally prevailed. Anyway, the results were pretty much what I expected given that pointy wedges are not all that effective for offense at 20fps. This was an experiment to see if a self driving bot had any chance at all against human drivers. I'm very encouraged by the results. I think if I replace the pointy wedges with active flippers it might actually win a few matches.
Omegaforce won the 12# Battle Royale! Overthruster and Scary-Go-Round did not win the 30# Battle Royale. Scary managed to stay on the stage during all 3 rounds but was hung up on the torn carpet and could not move. You have to be the last mobile robot on the stage to win.
Thomas Kenny (Pinball) and Mike Jeffries (Nyx and Apollyon) had the best bots this year (and last year). They are also very good drivers. Looks like I'm going to have to up my game with better bots next year.
12# Battle Royale 30# Battle Royale Scary-Go-Round vs Uberclocker(Scary is fully autonomous)
Still photos on Picasa, Click here
Overthruster flips itself off the floor after being pushed off by Pinball. Too bad it didn't land back on the stage.