Complicated design is easy. Simple takes work. - Team Run Amok
Questions & Answers
Q: How did Team Run Amok get involved with Robot Wars?
A: Back in the spring of 2001, word got out on a couple of the robot discussion forums that Robot Wars was planning to film a series of shows for TNN with American competitors. Dan Danknick (Team Delta) was involved in pre-qualifying teams. I talked with him about the competition, and he thought that we were just what the show producers were looking for. In May, one of the producers flew in from London to meet with us and some other West Coast "Roboteers" and to have a look at our Robot. A couple weeks later, It was official and we prepared to ship off to England.
Q: This whole adventure sounds expensive! What did it cost you?
A: The Robot Wars production company paid for airline tickets (coach), hotel (Novotel in Hammersmith), and ground transport in England (taxi and tube) for our three-person team. They fed us (quite well) while we were at the contest site (Earls Court in Hammersmith - a really huge exhibit hall), and gave us a bit of pocket money for food on days we weren't competing. We also received an "appearance fee" which just about covered modifications to the robot and other ancillary costs. I figure our out-of-pocket expenses were limited to sightseeing and souvenirs.
Q: Have you been a big Robot Wars fan for a while?
A: I'd never seen Robot Wars 'til after we were accepted to participate. Some PBS stations have been airing the show, but I'd never seen it. A friend in the Bay Area sent me a tape. Whoa! What had I gotten myself into? I'm rather fond of my little under powered 'bot, and the thought of having one of the "House 'Bots" tear it into small pieces and burn the remains did not sit well with me.
Q: "Run Away!" looks a lot like "Run Amok". How much of it is the same?
A: The Run Amok drive train and chassis have undergone some refinements and upgrades since Robotica. For Robot Wars, we started with the proven chassis and added additional top armor, some anti-flip enhancements, and a very nasty active weapon to create "Run Away!" Total weight of the 'bot increased from 172 lbs. to 220 lbs.
Q: About that weapon…
A: Two 30" long steel blades rotating at 1000 RPM. Power is supplied by a Bosch GPA 750 motor (identical to our drive motor) running at 24 volts. Very intimidating!
Q: Did you have any major trouble?
A: I had a lot of trouble adapting to the 8-time-zone shift, and was running on about 3 hours sleep per night for the whole trip. I was a complete zombie by the 3rd day. At one point, I completely forgot the start-up sequence of switches needed to activate "Run Away!" just as we were set to fight in the semi-finals of the "Tag Team Terror" event. Dan Danknick ran over and got me in the match, but there was a considerable delay. My apologies to Derek and his tech staff -- I was loopy!
Q: Any surprises during the competition?
A: The original format of the "U.S. Championships" had four rounds: a 3-robot melee round, followed by three rounds of one-on-one action to get to a winner. The TNN guys decided at the last minute that they would like the entire championships to fit into a single, one-hour episode. The quick solution was to change the 3-robot melee round into a 6-robot melee round! We'd fought against two robots before, but fighting against five other 'bots was a real experience. It was like one of those cartoon fight scenes where there's a big dust cloud and from time-to-time you get to see somebody pop up out of the cloud, hit somebody, and get sucked back into the cloud. I figure that about a third of the robots in the event were damaged so badly in the opening melee that they were completely out of the competition -- and this was on the first day!
Q: Would you do it again?
A: We just returned (January, 2002) from filming a second series of shows for TNN and a few shows for Nickelodeon at Sheperton Studios near London. Once again, we were treated very well by the Robot Wars staff and crew, but the days were very long and the studios were quite isolated. We premiered our new robot 'The Gap' and we were quite pleased with its initial performance. Watch for the shows to air in the Spring of 2002.