Robot Wars sits at the confluence of science, engineering and design. For those of you who are reading this blog and aren’t familiar with the concept, at the most basic level it’s innovators building radio controlled creations weighing up to 110Kg (or 250lbs) that do battle in a huge, purpose built arena – a fight to the death!
What on the face of it sounds like a brutal, gladiatorial duel, upon closer inspection reveals an intertwined mixture of engineering prowess, community, competition and learning? The sport attracts a huge range of individuals, characters and professions – from genuine rocket scientists to plumbers and machine shop workers – all inspiring a new generation to get involved in science, engineering and technology.
Ed Hoppitt is the Team Captain for Team Storm, one of the most successful teams to have taken part in Robot Wars (it took them just 9 months from their first appearance on TV to winning the coveted Robot Wars World Champion title – the highest accolade in the sport!). VMware is proud to have joined forces with Team Storm, innovator to innovator, to support the team in the incredible journey in 2016 which will see them return as Reigning World Champions to Robot Wars, and also enter the hit US ABC Series ‘BattleBots’ with their machine Photon Storm.
Coming up we have an incredible story, as we take you into the detail of what makes Team Storm’s machines powerful, winning pieces of technology. Stay tuned for our Robot Wars blog series, which will take you through how they borrowed thinking from VMware’s own strategy, how the team make use of real time data and analytics, as well as an incredible opportunity to hear in their words what it’s like to compete at the very highest level.
We’ve got several great blogs over the next few weeks, going into the fine details and cool secrets of what makes a robot capable of beating the world’s best, including:
POWER – From what makes Storm 2 such a powerful machine, to how the team have taken cutting edge technology and adapted it for the battle arena. In Robot Wars the team even borrowed some Formula 1 technology and used dry ice to pre-cool the robot before it went into a battle.
BUILDING – What goes into building one of these machines? How do you go about preparing for battle? And why, just like DevOps, it is critical to reduce the cycle of innovation and testing and be willing to take a risk. Storm 2 and Photon Storm embody the DevOps movement, always in flux, always in prototype, but expected to deliver at the highest level on some of the world’s largest stages.
WEAPONRY – It might surprise you to hear that when Storm 2 was first built for Robot Wars it didn’t have a weapon, however as the robot evolved it now has some of the most sophisticated weaponry technology going. Precision controlled high-speed robotics, interchangeable kinetic energy weapons – allowing the underlying platform to be tailored for the battle it’s in.
SOFTWARE / COMMUNICATIONS – When Storm 2 was first built, robots were configured and modified with switches, jumpers and a screwdriver (can you remember the days of changing an IRQ jumper on a SoundBlaster 16 Pro card to get it working?) – today so much of this sits in software as we move ever more into a software-defined age. We’ll hear how the team use real-time telemetry coming back from the robot, monitoring a range of data feeds that mean the team can make real-time choices about how to compete in the fight.
CHASSIS – One of the most important design choices that you can make in IT, is deciding what you are you going to base your architecture on – and it’s no different when building a combat robot. Whilst Storm 2 has cutting edge materials such as titanium armour and exotic, impact-resistant materials like Armox, the focus for the chassis is reliability, maintainability and efficiency – just like any IT platform’s foundation!
TECH SUMMARY – In this blog, you will find out what the key technical features of Storm 2 are. How did the team manage to pack such power into something that originally only weighed 110Kg? How does the team use software-defined speed controllers to use the same technology platform across multiple robots, with the software making the difference in performance – and how data and telemetry allows the team to monitor current temperatures, voltages and performance.
At VMworld there will even be a dedicated break-out session where fans of the show can come and ask the team anything, as they and other stars from the show take part in a panel session.
And for VMware customers, watch for exclusive opportunities at events around the world to meet the team (and the robots) up close and personal.
Let the wars begin!