Robo Riots hold its first heavyweight combat robot sports event in Dublin

Sathishaa Mohan

‘Robo Riots’ held its first ‘full-length heavyweight combat robot sports’ event in Dublin from November 15 to 16. It had four shows consisting of 31 battles involving 38 robots weighing between 110 and 140kg.

The National Basketball Arena, Tallaght was transformed by a 100 square metre octagonal combat cage. It housed the ‘robot combat sport’ with battles decided by one bot destroying or disabling the opposing teams’ machines.

Unlike the BBC’s hit TV show ‘Robot Wars’, ‘Robo Riots’ did not feature a pit, a flame pit or house robots. It was a low-budget live reenactment of the series.

Peter Redmond acted as the director and producer of ‘Robo Riots’ while Ciarán Byrne was the host (stage name Dr Zulu). Both were competitors on the TV show as part of ‘Team Nemesis’. Their robot ‘Diotoir’ was called back into action for ‘Robo Riots’. Together they hope to inspire robotics enthusiasts of all ages from Ireland to build their own robots.

They created robot versions of Star Wars’ “R2-D2” and Doctor Who’s “Dalek” which played the roles of ‘artificial intelligence judges’. Alongside the AI officials stood a dim-witted droid called ‘AL-1X’. The audience instantly grew fond of ‘AL-1X’ and did not approve of Dr Zulu’s constant pantomime threats towards it.

Before the oilshed began, Dr Zulu ran through the safety procedures and ensured that all precautions were taken. He added, “if a robot falls out of the arena and lands on you, it’s yours to keep”.

There was confusion when Dr Zulu introduced two life-sized boxing bots as ‘Michael Coglins’ and ‘Katie Naylor’. The two robots were initially advertised as ‘Clunker McGregor’ and ‘Taylor Fists’. It is assumed the new name for the male bot was inspired by the Irish Olympic boxer Mick Conlan as opposed to the 1916 Rising veteran Michael Collins.

Dr Zulu also improvised a washing machine skit before the grand finale only to realise the two ‘washing machines’ in the combat cage were actually dishwashers. He sheepishly called out ‘whoever failed at their job’ of getting the correct appliances. These charming botches perfectly encapsulated the madcap mood of the show.

The thrill of the robo-carnage bridged the gap between generations. Be it parents and children or grandparents and grandchildren, everyone bonded over the family-friendly mayhem.

One exception was the father who spent five minutes trying to capture the perfect robot selfie backstage as his son stared blankly at the ground a few feet away.

Despite the lack of features within the arena, the inclusion of the dishwashers showcased the capability of the robots. Seeing the household appliances launched over eight feet into the air really put the robots’ power into perspective.

The high-octane show became an educational experience after the final curtain. Fans were welcomed backstage to take a closer look at the robots with roboteers on hand to answer any questions.

‘Robo Riots’ delivered on all fronts. It was a nostalgic rollercoaster for fans of the TV show while newcomers were given a thrilling introduction to robot combat. Undoubtedly, many familiar faces will be seen in the crowd for the next leg of the tour. This will take place at the BT Young Scientist and Technology exhibition in the RDS in January.

Note: This article was reuploaded on 04/04/21 due to a fault with The College View website.

Sathishaa Mohan

Image credit: Sathishaa Mohan