Kent State XBots at the NHRL Robot Combat League
The crowd cheers. Metal clashes with metal. It’s machine against machine, each fighting to make it out of the ring unscathed. In this fight, there can only be one winner. The audience tenses at the sound of a loud bang, and bolts go flying across the floor. Then there is silence, the fight is over, just as quickly as it began.
If you’ve never attended a Battle Robot Competition, then you may be confused as to what has just been described.
Battle robots are the main focus of the CAE student organization, Xtreme Bots. Xtreme Bots, otherwise known as the Kent State XBots, design and build robots to take into battle against other teams at various battle bot competitions.
In March, they competed at the Norwalk Havoc Robot League (NHRL) Robot Combat League in Norwalk, Connecticut. This was their first event of the robot combat season, and it was an all-day affair. The event went from 10 AM to 10 PM and was broken into three parts; the qualifying rounds, knockouts (semifinals), and finals.
The Kent State XBots were able to fight their way to the semifinals, which is something worth bragging about!
The rules of the NHRL Robot Combat League are as follows: There are three brackets based on robot weight – the 3-pound bracket, 12-pound backet, and 30-pound bracket. Within each weight bracket, there are another two brackets, the undefeated bracket and the elimination bracket.
All robots start out in the undefeated bracket, but then move to the elimination bracket if they lose a match to another robot. As the robots move up through the brackets, the final competition is between the winner of the undefeated bracket and the winner of the elimination bracket.
The robot that the Kent State XBots designed was in the 12-pound weight bracket, and affectionately named Big-Ish. Big-Ish had two large wheels on either side, and two arms in the middle that gave it balance and enabled it to switch direction with ease in the battle ring.
Big-Ish's controller, also known as the “captain”, was Kent State XBots president, Brendan Steele. The first battle that Big-Ish competed in was against Carmen. Unfortunately, Big-Ish was no match for this tiny rage machine and tapped out within the first fifteen seconds.
Have no fear! This was no worry for the Kent State XBots as the NHRL Robot Combat League uses a double elimination system. The first battle a robot competes in is in the Undefeated Bracket. If a robot loses a match in the Undefeated Bracket, they move to the Elimination Bracket, where if they lose again, they are out entirely.
Since Big-Ish lost in Round One of the Undefeated Bracket, the robot then moved on to Round One of the Elimination Bracket. Big-Ish then proceeded to win in the next three rounds, demolishing its opponents, but ultimately losing to a robot named Minimizer in Round 4 of the Elimination Bracket.
This was not without a fight. Both bots lasted the allotted three minutes of their fight, getting in several blows at each other. Since neither had been knocked out by this time, it was up to the judges to decide the winner, and they chose Minimizer.
Check out the battle bot's competition in action! The NHRL Robot Combat League can be watched via YouTube. The video was streamed live on the day of and if you check out the live chat, you'll see that Big-Ish was quite popular with the viewers!