Prime time TV. It’s been a long time for engineers and engineering to be talked about on a weekly basis. This summer, ABC TV brought back Battlebots. a fierce competition between 2 robots, that tests design, engineering and passion in weekly elimination rounds to fight for a trophy and bragging rights. ABC has high TV ratings and Battlebots drives forward to inspire the next generation of engineers.
Prime Time TV commercials. Pizza Hut used three Battebot teams to showcase their new pizza. It’s time to crave robots and crave pizza with hot dogs.
Has engineering and robotics hit mainstream? If you have been around robots long enough, you have seen the original Battlebot series or YouTube best matches. But this time, things are different. There is a focus not only on entertainment but also on the engineers behind the robots and their designs. The video by Mythbusters Jamie and Adam’s Tested goes behind the scenes to talk to the competitors about their robots. It’s cool to talk about “Design Intent” , “velocity” and “torque”.
This time there is a large, young, focused audience that has competed in middle school and high school VEX Robotics and FIRST Robotics events that cheer on their favorites and their mentors. VEX Robotics is sponsoring 5 teams this year including APTYX Design Bite Force and Mutant Robotics Lock-Jaw.
These designers have a long robot history. I first met Paul Ventimiglia, Team APTYX, as a student at WPI. While at WPI, Paul and team designed “Moonraker” for the NASA Lunar Excavation Challenge and won its 1/2 million dollar prize. His senior project MQP, “Design of a Human Hand Prosthetic” remains a reference today for many students. He was also a mentor for FRC Team 190. Paul is a mentor for the Cheesy Poofs FRC Team 254 .
Now Paul and his team compete with Bite Force. This robot performed well in round 1 and is moving on.
In April at the FIRST Robotics Championship in St Louis, I ran into Don Hutson, Mutant Robots. Years ago, I interviewed Don for an article about the original Battlebots series for Robot Magazine. Mutant Robots had a great history with the first Battlebot series and other robot competitions.
Now with Lock-Jaw, Don and team hope the robot will perform as designed with its three clamping jaws. When not designing competitive robots, Don is thinking with robots as an engineer with Qualcomm. He is also a FIRST Robotics mentor for FRC Team 1572 the Hammerheads.
You can see the next episode Sunday night ABC TV at 9:00pm. You can follow on Twitter @BattleBotsABC @BattleBots @BattleBotNation. Enjoy the summer. Watch Battlebots! Marie