As Robot Wars returns to our screens, we will once again witness the relentless destruction of carefully crafted machines for our entertainment. The series has not changed much since its glory days; robots designed and built by brilliant minds relentlessly battle in the sport of robot combat. Time will tell how the machines have advanced after a decade of technological development, but there is no doubt that they will be as merciless as ever. It is not just their opponents that the robot contestants have to be worried about, the arena will be dotted with hazards to avoid, the most terrifying of which are the infamous and iconic house robots.
Previously, Robot Wars featured an angry array of house robots, including Matilda, Cassius Chrome, Mr Psycho, Sergeant Bash, Dead Metal, Growler, Shunt and Sir Killalot, to name a few. The BBC have confirmed that this year Sir Killalot, Matilda, Shunt and Dead Metal will return and they “are deadlier than ever” – according to this BBC tweet. The house robots lurk in the outer zones of the arena, patiently waiting for unwitting contestants to enter their territory before unleashing their immense power on the poor things. Falling into the grasp of a house robot is an event to be avoided at all costs, but just what is it that makes house robots so menacing, so deadly, and so tough?
Well, for one, house robots do not have to adhere to the same weight limit as contestant robots, only limited by the (boundless) creativity of the engineers who build them. Competing robots must weigh in at 100KG or less whilst there is no threshold for house robots; the pneumatic hammer wielding Mr Psycho entered the sixth series weighing in at a whopping 750KG. His size was a huge advantage and Mr Psycho, armed with his 30KG hammer striking at 60mph and a hydraulic claw exerting up to 9 tons of pressure, was a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, Mr Psycho has been retired from the show, but let’s find out how the returning house robots have developed.
One of the most basic house robots there was, Shunt boasted only a pushing plough and an axe with some simple motors. However, the Shunt that now patrols the arena is powered by 2 10hp motors and has a huge bulldozer blade made from Hardox (the same material that JCB diggers are made from). The axe has been totally re-designed and uprated; rather than a pneumatic cylinder just pushing the axe, the new design uses the pneumatic cylinder to drive a rack and pinion, giving the axe much more power and reach.
Dead Metal was already one of the evilest looking robots from the previous series is totally re-worked and almost twice the size. Again now with almost 20hp of drive it’s quick and agile around the arena, and the petrol engine that use to run Dead Metal’s saw is now replaced with a high power electric motor making it even more reliable and powerful than ever before.
Matilda, the lady of the house robots returns, now with upgraded drive and a huge ‘ETEK’ motor driving a 30Kg spinning disk on the back – something that catches out more than a few competitor robots in the new series. Her pneumatic tusks are also upgraded, and rather than just the tusks flipping, the whole head now moves.
Show favourite and arguably the leader of the house robots, Sir Killalot is a lance-wielding knight on caterpillar tracks. Malevolent and medieval, the new Sir Killalot is simply huge, powered by two custom built track units each packing 10hp of drive from the 300amp speed controllers, an on-board hydraulic system powering the crushing claw and lifting arm, as well as the spinning drill lance that can mangle and pierce armour. Perhaps it is his glowering red eyes and human-like torso engineered in metal armour and disturbing weaponry that hold the essence of Sir Killalot’s ominousness. Ultimately, with a new space-age look, Sir Killalot has evolved, more evil, more powerful and more destructive.
With no budget, no weapons restrictions and no weight limit, the house robot’s engineers can really let their imaginations run riot – and we have to say that what they have created for the BBC take the original concept designs and evolve them into something more terrifying than ever.