BattleBots, also BattleBots Inc., is an American company whose purpose is to host combat robot competitions. BattleBots is also the name of the television show created from the competition footage, and a nickname for the combat robots which compete. BattleBots Inc. is headquartered in Novato, California and holds most of its competitions in San Francisco.

In a BattleBots event, as in other combat robot competitions, teams of competitors bring remote-controlled, armored and weaponed machines which they have designed and built, and put them in an arena to fight in a single-elimination tournament. The purpose of the fight is for one robot, or "bot", to dominate or disable the other.

The television show BattleBots aired on the American cable network Comedy Central for five seasons, covering five complete BattleBots tournaments. The first season aired starting in August 2000, and the fifth season aired starting in August 2002. Hosts of BattleBots were Bil Dwyer and Sean Salisbury and correspondents included former "Baywatch" babe Donna D'Errico, Carmen Electra, Traci Bingham, and twins Randy and Jason Sklar. Bill Nye was the show's "technical expert".

Due to continued declining ratings (one major criticism of the show was that it focused far too much on the wacky reporters and the robot builders' backstories, and not nearly enough on the actual robot combat), Comedy Central terminated their contract with BattleBots Inc. in late 2002, and BattleBots Inc. is currently seeking another television partner.

There is some discussion as to whether the machines entered in such contests are true robots as they are not autonomous in their actions. They are remotely controlled by their teams, so might be more properly referred to as Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). Self-controlled, or autonomous combat robots, are allowed under the rules, but are very difficult to make competitive in the complicated combat environment.

In addition to Battlebots, many local and regional combat robotics organizations are active throughout the world. Many of them focus on lighter-weight robots to keep arena and build costs practical for hobbyists.


Weight classes

Robots are separated into four weight classes: Lightweight (60 pounds), middleweight (120 pounds), heavyweight (220 pounds), and superheavyweight (340 pounds). A robot that moves by means of legs, rather than wheels, is allowed a weight advantage. Robots fight against others in the same weightclass.

Robot design

Robots vary widely in shape, size, weaponry, and number of wheels. They can be made of mostly scrap metal and recycled or surplus parts, or they can have custom parts and machining and exotic materials, or anything in between. The cost of a competitive robot can be as low as $500, or it can be $50,000 or more. The average is $3000-$5000.

  1. Boxbots, also called rammers or bricks. These spend their weight budget on heavy armor and a robust drivetrain, rather than on weaponry. They often have four or six wheels. Their strategy is to survive the weapons of the opponent and arena while driving the opponent hard into the walls and hazards. Notable ones include Punjar and Vlad The Impaler
  2. Wedgebots. These have a strong drivetrain and armor, with a sloped front and low ground clearance. They usually have two or four wheels. Their strategy is to shove their wedge under the opponent and break its contact with the floor, then flip the opponent over or carry it to the arena hazards. The sloped face is also good at deflecting weapon blows. Wedgebots and boxbots are often designed to run equally well upside-down, preventing them from being immobilized if they get flipped; other designs tend not to be so easily made invertible. Include Atomic Wedgie and Scrap Daddy LW 55.
  3. Thwackbots. These have a two-wheeled body and a long arm with a weapon at the tip, such as a sledgehammer or pickaxe. The strategy is to get close to the opponent, and then spin the whole bot about its own center so that the weapon arm swings quickly in a circle. By rapidly throwing the bot into reverse it can also deliver overhand blows. The arm is also good for keeping dangerous opponents at a distance. Include T-Wrex, Toe Crusher and Serial Box Killer.
  4. Hammerbots or axebots. These have weapons on one or more swinging arms, such as hammers, picks, or axes. The strategy is to land as many blows on top of the opponent as possible and crush or puncture its armor. It is difficult for a hammerbot to deliver a powerful blow without just lifting itself off the floor, but it can be done and has been. Include Killerhurtz, Diesector, Deadblow, and The Judge.
  5. Clampbots. These have jaws, pinchers, or grappling arms that can close on an opponent and capture it, crush it, or lift it into the air. The strategy may be to damage the opponent directly, or to take it to the hazards. Include Jaws Of Death and Complete Control.
  6. Lifters. These have an arm that gets under the opponent and lifts it off the floor, breaking its traction and keeping it helpless. The strategy is to prevent the opponent from attacking and to take it to the hazards. Include Biohazard and T-Wrex.
  7. Flippers. These also have an arm to get under the opponent, but instead of a slow lift, the arm fires upward with great force, throwing the opponent in the air. The strategy is to flip the opponent upside down or on edge, or to simply throw the other robot so high and so often that the repeated landings cause it to break. Include Toro, T-Minus, and The Matador.
  8. Spinners. Spinning weapons are popular and varied. These use a motor to spin a solid weapon, such as a bar, disc, saw, or cylinder (drum), and strike the opponent with the kinetic energy of the weapon. Spinners can be mounted anywhere on the robot: in front, at the sides, or on top. Their effects range from showers of sparks to tearing the wheels or armor off the opponent, or even throwing the opponent many lengths in the air. The strategy is simply to destroy. Include Backlash, Nightmare, El Diablo, Hazard and Minion.
  9. Full-body spinners, also called shell spinners. These are round robots in the shape of domes, pucks, or cones, in which the entire outer shell is the spinning weapon. Usually the shell is studded with teeth or blades to tear into the opponent. Because the weapon of a shell spinner is so large and heavy, these bots tend to have weak drivetrains, and if the spinner breaks the bot is easily pushed about. Shell spinners are also helpless if flipped upside down. However, it is not easy for the opponent to get close enough to do so. Include Ziggo, Mauler 51-50 and Blendo.
  10. Weird Bots, such as Mechadon, Crash Test Dummy, Chia Bot, Tentamushi, and Snake.

Some robots use combinations of weapons, such as both hammers and jaws, or a wedge with a spinning weapon on top, or a spinner at one end and a wedge at the other. There are also robots that fit no strict definition, such as snake robots.

The BattleBox

The BattleBox is a square arena, 48 feet by 48 feet, designed to protect the drivers, officials, and audience from flying shrapnel and charging bots. It has a steel floor and steel-framed walls and roof paneled with thick, bulletproof polycarbonate plastic. The teams bring their robots in through doorways, which are then sealed when all the humans have exited. The drivers control their machines from outside the sealed arena.

Arena hazards

Operated by "Pulverizer Pete," the arena hazards are intended to make fights more interesting and unpredictable, and to reward drivers who can avoid the hazards while pushing or carrying their opponent into them. The hazards include:

  • Spike Strips
    • The walls of the arena are covered with foot-long sharpened steel spikes. Pushing an opponent hard into a wall can sometimes mean a stuck opponent.
  • Spinners
    • These high-speed record players can interfere with a robot's driving. They won't do damage to a robot, but they can make it move rather crookedly!
  • Kill Saws
    • The Kill Saws are aptly named. Coming out of the floor at high speed as soon as a robot drives over the red slots, these diamond-tipped saws can tear into a bot's tires or chassis, or even throw a smaller bot across the arena.
  • Pistons
    • Pistons are steel columns that raise and lower from the floor without warning. As they're not sharp or particularly fast, they don't do much damage to robots, but they can stop a charging robot or flip one over.
  • Ramrods
    • Ramrods are the painful variant of pistons- sharpened steel spikes that come out of the arena floor.
  • Hell Raisers
    • Even the floor is not to be trusted. If a robot drives over the center of the arena, it will find itself driving on a <math>15\deg<math> tilt.
  • Pulverizers
    • The most dangerous of all obstacles, the high-powered hammers known as the Pulverizers mark each corner of the arena. A robot under a pulverizer will usually get destroyed in short order unless it gets out from under it quickly; Bill Nye The Science Guy has calculated that each pulverizer hit is equivalent to a car being dropped on the hapless robot.


Matches are three minutes long. During a match, two robots do their best to destroy each other using whatever means available.

If a robot is unable to move for thirty seconds, because it is too badly damaged or it is stuck on the arena hazards, it is declared knocked out. The driver may also call a "tap-out" to end the match immediately if one robot is about to be destroyed.

In about half the matches, both robots survive the three minutes; at that point, three judges distribute a total of 45 points (15 points a judge, 5 points per judge per category) over three categories. The robot with the higher score wins. The judging categories are Aggression, Strategy, and Damage. A robot who hangs back safely from its opponent will not get many Aggression points; one in there fighting the whole time, however, will. The Strategy category is about how well a robot exploits its opponent's weaknesses, protects its own, and handles the hazards. A robot driving over the kill saws will lose points here, unless it had good reason to do so, while a robot that is able to attack its opponent's weak areas will gain points. The Damage category is for how much damage the bot can deal to its opponent while remaining intact itself.

The winner moves on; the loser is eliminated from the tournament.

Tournament Winners

Long Beach; August 1999

  • Gigabot Winner - Biohazard
  • Megabot Winner - Son Of Smashy
  • Kilobot Winner - Ziggo

Las Vegas; November 1999

  • Heavyweight Winner - Vlad The Impaler (defeating Kill-O-Amp, Biohazard, Rhino and Voltarc)
  • Superheavyweight Winner - Minion (defeating S.L.A.M., World Peace and Ricon)

San Francisco; June 2000 (Season 1.0)

  • Superheavyweight Winner - Minion (defeating GrayMatter, Grendal, Rammstein and DooAll)
  • Heavyweight Winner - Vlad The Impaler (defeating GoldDigger, Tazbot, Overkill, Punjar and Voltarc)
  • Middleweight Winner - Hazard (defeating Pegleg, Turtle Roadkill, Space Operations Force and Deadblow)
  • Lightweight Winner - Backlash (defeating Disposable Hero, The Crusher, Endotherm, Das Bot and Alpha Raptor)

Las Vegas; November 2000 (Season 2.0)

  • Superheavyweight Winner - Diesector (defeating Hamunaptra, World Peace, Rammstein, War Machine and Atomic Wedgie)
  • Heavyweight Winner - Biohazard (defeating Marvel of Engineering (MOE), Suicidal Tendencies, Nightmare, FrenZy and Vlad the Impaler)
  • Middleweight Winner - Spaz (defeating Tobor Rabies, Blue Streak, Buddy Lee Don't Play In The Street, Bad Attitude and El Diablo)
  • Lightweight Winner - Ziggo (defeating Scrap Metal, Scrap Daddy LW55, Afterthought, Beta Raptor and Backlash)

Treasure Island; May 2001 (Season 3.0)

  • Superheavyweight Winner - Vladiator (defeating Juggerbot, Hammertime, Revision Z, Techno Destructo, Diesector and Minion)
  • Heavyweight Winner - Son Of Whyachi (defeating Shaka, Crab Meat, Kill-O-Amp, Nightmare, MechaVore, Hexadecimator and Biohazard)
  • Middleweight Winner - Hazard (defeating Fusion, Zion, F5, T-Wrex and Little Drummer Boy)
  • Lightweight Winner - Dr Inferno Jr (defeating Blood Dragon, Toe Crusher, Bad Habit, Herr GepoŁnden, Sallad and Gamma Raptor)

Treasure Island; November 2001 (Season 4.0)

  • Superheavyweight Winner - Toro (defeating Maximus, The Judge, Vladiator, Little Blue Engine and New Cruelty)
  • Heavyweight Winner - Biohazard (defeating Stealth Terminator, Jabberwock, Nightmare, Tazbot and Overkill)
  • Middleweight Winner - Hazard (defeating Timmy, SABotage, El Diablo, Heavy Metal Noise and Complete Control)
  • Lightweight Winner - Ziggo (defeating Snowflake, Serial Box Killer, Wedge of Doom, Death By Monkeys, and The Big B)

Treasure Island; May 2002 (Season 5.0)

  • Superheavyweight Winner - Diesector (defeating Final Destiny, Dreadnought, HammerTime, New Cruelty and Vladiator)
  • Heavyweight Winner - Biohazard (defeating Center Punch, Greenspan, MechaVore, Aces and Eights, and Voltronic
  • Middleweight Winner - T-Minus (defeating TriDent, Double Agent, Huggy Bear, Hazard and S.O.B.)
  • Lightweight Winner - Dr Inferno Jr (defeating Afterburner, Tentoumushi 9.0, Death By Monkeys, Gamma Raptor and Wdge of Doom)

See also Robot Wars, Robotica, Survival Research Laboratories

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