Meet the Arizona State University club that builds robots designed for destruction

Meet the Arizona State University club that builds robots designed for destruction

Two robots—armed with whizzing saws, metal chains, and hammers—enter the arena as the audience cheers. Only one will go out to work and be considered a hero.

That’s what’s happening at ASU’s Combat Ready Robotics, a club whose members use their skills to create bots designed to havoc on the battlefield, pitted against another combat-ready bot. The club participates in national competitions and hopes to be in the televised robot fighting competition.”BattleBotsRobot Fighting Championship TV show on Discovery Channel and streaming service Discovery Plus. The winning team wins a cash prize of $25,000.

A lot of thought goes into creating a combat robot, said Caleb Hecht, a freshman studying manufacturing engineering and vice president of the club. When it comes to design, it should be rugged, have easily changeable parts and be able to hit the ground running while still being able to function.

“You put other parts inside the robot, you shock-mount them, you make sure you use a certain kind of screw, and you have to set breakout points,” Hecht said. “It’s a lot; a lot goes into that.”

Hecht recently participated in the “BattleBots” on Team Banshee, a team that created a heavyweight robot named after the female spirit of Irish folklore. He said he plans to use what he learned from that experience to lead a team at ASU.

“One of the best things about BattleBots is that it’s the most open and welcoming place,” Hecht said. “I worked on a 250-pound robot and I just walked up to each team and said, ‘Show me how your robot works,’ and they showed me exactly their weaknesses and how the robot works.”

In most robot fighting competitions, weapons such as buzzsaws, hammers, spinning chains, flippers, and flamethrowers are accepted. The goal in any competition is to make the opponent’s bot unfit for action.

The club officially started at the beginning of this semester. They were originally part of Sun Devil Robot Club But they decided to branch out into their own foundation to differentiate themselves and get more school funding.

The club hosts Sun Devil Smackdown, a fighting robots competition at ASU, that gives students the chance to put their hard work and dedication to the test, by pinning metal against metal to see who will reign victorious. If a team loses twice, it is out of the competition.

The club has four different weight divisions for competitions: beetweight – three pounds, hobby weight – 12 pounds, featherweight – 30 pounds, and heavyweight – 250 pounds.

Some of the veteran members of Combat Ready Robotics have used their knowledge and experience and actually competed in a dubbed competition Norwalk robot havoc league in Connecticut. The overall winner of the 30-pound weight class competition wins $15,000 and the Gold Flipping Cup.

The majority of the robot-building process is spent using computer-aided design (CAD), which is a 3-D blueprint for the robot, Hecht said. Currently, all of the club’s robots are still in the computer-aided design stage.

Once everything is digitally created, he said, the club will order parts and start building the physical robot. As long as the CAD step is done well, the building is the easiest part.

Funding for the parts comes from the university, so there is no cost to students who join the club, said Tyler Wright, treasurer of Combat Ready Robotics and a sophomore studying aerospace engineering.

“I think a good incentive for more people to join the club is that it’s basically free,” said Wright. “It’s free fun.”

Those interested in joining are taught everything they need to know from the ground up including 3D modeling, which can eventually be linked into their own classroom.

“I love it,” said M. Miller, a freshman studying astrophysics. Hands-on teaches me a lot more than it does in the classroom.

The club is open to students of all disciplines. Hecht said that non-engineering majors are vital members of the team and can see things that engineering members don’t.

“We’re open to all kinds of students; we have computer science majors, we have astronomy majors[and]we have creative writing majors, so there’s a place for everyone here,” Hecht said. “At the beginning of every workshop, I ask all non-engineers to raise their hands, and tell people, ‘These are the people on our teams,’ because they are able to focus on the things that engineers overlook.”

Edited by Caden Ryback, Wyatt Misko, and Luke Chatham.


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Tyson WildmanSciTech Reporter

Tyson Wildman is a reporter for the State Press SciTech bureau. He is excited to begin his journey in journalism and continue honing his skills as a writer. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.


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