The Combat Robot Hall of Fame ® - Robot Eligibility




Two robots one, or one robot two?

The Combat Robot Hall of Fame was established in 2003 to recognize individual combat robots that have special importance to the sport as determined by members of the combat robot community. Membership in the Hall is open to any robot that has competed in a combat robot tournament that can be considered to have claimed excellence in at least one of four categories:

  • Dominating success in combat
  • Pioneering or perfecting influential designs
  • Having great fan or entertainment appeal, or
  • Otherwise making a lasting impact on the sport.

Sharp-eyed visitors to The Hall might notice that some robots are listed here under multiple names, while some similar-appearing robots from a single team are listed individually. The Hall has recently attempted to sort out a definition of an 'individual robot' in modern robot combat and to clarify how our definition differs from other resources.


Combat robots commonly undergo modification from one tournament to the next in an attempt by their builders to improve their performance. It is not at all unusual for an established robot to appear at a new tournament with upgraded motors, a modified weapon, enhanced armor -- and sometimes registering with a new name and paint scheme in a different weight class. How much has to change before it might be considered a new robot?

Botrank is a service to the community that tracks the competition records of combat robots and attempts to rank them within their weight class. BotRank simply tracks robots by the name they register for at a tournament. Given the number of robots and fights that they have to track this is a reasonable approach for them to take; a new name starts a new combat tracking record.
The Combat Robot Hall of Fame has a greater interest in the true heritage of a robot nominated for recognition. An increase or decrease in the weight of a robot or a name change - either on a whim or to meet some contractual obligation for television production - does not necessarily create a new robotic entity in our view. We believe that the identity of a robot lies in its design concept and team ownership, and that can be a challenge to sort out. Here are some examples:


Panic Attack

This long-lived Robot Wars competitor and Hall of Fame member went thru a complex series of changes during its career: added side-skirts, lowered profile, SRiMech, heightened profile, altered lifting forks, a top-mounted secondary flipper, a logo/color change, and more. Throughout it all the concept of the robot remained the same -- it was a boxy, enclosed, ramming electric lifterbot. For our purposes, we consider all versions of 'Panic Attack' to be a single robot.


Juggerbot/Tricerabot

This Hall of Fame honorable mention 'bot was originally built for the varied challenges of the 'TLC Robotica' competition with four replaceable motor modules each powering a drive wheel, but the chassis and systems were designed with future competitions in mind:

  • At BattleBots a third pair of drive modules was added on mounting points included in the original design and 'Juggerbot' fought as a six-wheel drive super-heavyweight.
  • At Robot Wars the configuration reverted to four drive modules and the freed space was fitted with a small but powerful front-mounted pneumatic flipper that was also used at Robotica season 3. The official name changed to 'Tricerabot' to go along with a new 'dinosaur' exterior theme. Underneath the cosmetic and functional changes it was still the adaptable Juggerbot design.
  • A second Juggerbot chassis/drive entered competition about a year later when one of the original Team Juggerbot members split off and took a spare chassis and a set of drive motors as reimbursement for their financial contributions and formed a new team . The new robot competed at Robotica as 'Logoseye' and with cosmetic changes at Robot Wars as 'Rosie the Riveter'.
The Hall considers all versions of JuggerBot/Tricerabot to be a single robot, and we consider all versions of Logoseye/Rosie to be a different single robot -- kind of a kit-version of the Juggerbot design operated by a new team.


Tetanus/Triggo

This dominant US featherweight full-body spinner fought twenty-two battles before replacing the spinning shell with a stronger version and changing the name. Under the shell the robot was very little changed and its excellent record continued. I don't know why Team Brain Damage chose to change the name, but The Hall has no difficulty in justifying Tetanus/Triggo an honorable mention in The Hall as a single robot.


Bite Force

Here's a classification problem that tips in the other direction. 'Bite Force' was elected to Full Membership in 2019 voting based on two BattleBots championships (2015, 2018) and an impressive competition record. The Hall had previously considered the 2015 champion and the 2018 champion to be different robots with completely different concepts:

  • Bite Force (2015) is a clamping lifterbot with magnetic tracks;
  • Bite Force (2018) is a vertical spinnerbot with four wheels.
The two 'bots share a common design aesthetic and were obviously constructed by the same team -- but no single panel or external component could be interchanged. This is very different from the modular expansion design of 'Juggerbot or the hot-swap weapon capability of 'Bombshell'.

The 2019 balloting included votes that specified one specific version of Bite Force, both versions, and many votes that did not differentiate. Rather than trying to sort out the will of the voters, the membership committee simply recognized the accomplishments of the two versions together under a single member listing. This liberal interpretation has impacted the listings of a few other robots.


Last Rites/Tombstone

Clearly, all of the Team Hard Core 'bots share the same concept: two-wheel drive, wheelchair motored, welded tube chassis, massive bar spinner -- but they fight in three different weight classes. That alone is not be enough to call them different robots for our purposes. Several Hall members ('Juggerbot', 'Sewer Snake', 'Megabyte') have fought in more than one weight class, and the differences between these three bar spinners bots amount to less than the cumulative modifications to long-lived Hall members like 'Panic Attack'. Heavyweight 'Last Rites' became a full member of The Hall in 2009, while Superheavy 'Tombstone' made the Honorable Mention roll in 2005. In 2019 voting the 250-pound version of 'Tombstone' gained enough support for the membership committee roll all three versions of the big bar spinner into a single Hall membership.


D2 BotKits and Weta Kitbots

Membership in The Hall is awarded to a specific, single robot as I have struggled to define above. Both the D2 and Weta kits have certainly met with success in competition, have had a strong influence in design, and have made a lasting impact on the sport -- but these attributes are spread over dozens of 'bots and nearly as many teams. As in the case for 'Juggerbot' and 'Logoseye' I laid out above, operating under different teams qualifies them as different robots, even if they are mechanically and conceptually identical.

I would consider a creating a special Award of Merit for one or both of these products should the ballots indicate that recognition is due, but I can't see regular membership for a commercial product.


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Contents copyright Mark Joerger, 2019
'Combat Robot Hall of Fame' is a trademark held by Mark Joerger, 2003