My first AOV post ever was concerning how I wished I was an engineer so I could take my monstrous robot onto television and beat on other robots. Nothing has changed, except for now people out there are living the dream.
There are now about three shows that deal with his, and I want to tell you why they suck and how they can be improved.
First I’ll deal with Robotica. I have many issues with this. But I’ll start with the positive. I like the short history of each competitor showing the construction process. Even though they all say “My robot will win because it’s powerful enough to pull my minivan in neutral”.
The problem is that people are treating this new type of competition as a novelty and have whacky commentators, flashy high-tech lights, and stat-screens that are useless. That Zappa guy bugs me, he’s too “Whacky and off the wall”. I’ve watched Robotica a few times and I’ve learned that there are a few reoccuring factors. There is maybe 10-15 minutes of moving robots. Maybe less. What there is no shortage of is awkward robots beached, stuck, or otherwise motionless. Wabbling or bumping awkwardly and jerkily about. Then the announcer always says “Whack! That robots seems to have a tran-tran- transmission problem! That’s noooooo good!” in a whacky and off the wall voice. It’s frustrating to watch toasters jiggle all that time in their little post-apocalyptic-esque gauntlets.
Just when I was about to give up on fighting robots for a few more months, I caught two or three episodes of Battlebots. That was more entertaining, but still has some rough edges. For example, there are no little cutesy competitions because they never work. It’s all robots beating eachother. I saw an amazing robot that did suck as far as what a BattleBot should do, but made up for all that by not looking remotely like any other robot. I can’t find a picture of it, but it was a 2 meter robotic snake. It was cool. The other robots actually worked. I saw strategy instead of wounded manatees. The commenting people were less whacky, they have BILL NYE as a scientific consultant. And Jay Leno competes with his robot too. I’m not saying you need celebrities to have a good show, but, in this case it works.
I’ve caught an episode of Robot Wars once. It was like 3am on PBS. It seemed like a less-exciting BattleBots. It had the Red Dwarf guy as host. I don’t know much more about it other than it was better than that Robotica crap with the sleeping robots.
Thank you for your attention.