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Building a fighting machine.

Bill Seiler, air electrical engineer in Santa Cruz, CA, spends his time focusing on designing imaging equipment. But, when Product Design and Development announced its Build A Bot Contest last fall, Seiler temporarily turned into a designer of fighting robots. His idea for a spinning robot with easy maneuverability won the contest, and, as a result, has been built for the BattleBots arena.

BattleBots, which first hit the scene about a dozen years ago, pits radio-controlled robots, also called bots, against each other. They use kill saws, ramrod spears, and an assortment of metal-crunching weapons to destroy competitors.

Product Design and Development has participated in these battles through various sponsorships of bots designed and built by BattleBots veteran Christian Carlberg. With Seller's design, Product Design and Development now has its own bot to add to the mix.

The magazine's Build A Bot Contest invited readers to submit descriptions or sketches of the ultimate robotic tool of destruction. Seiler's design for a hot called SpinZone was chosen as the most likely to win in the BattleBots arena. The robot was then built and prepped for battle by Carlberg and his Team Coolrobots colleagues. Carlberg and company also built Knee-Breaker, Overkill, TriDent, Joe-Crusher, UpperCut, and Minion, which have received Product Design and Development sponsorship.

SpinZone is a four-wheel-drive horizontal-ring spinning robot. It uses sheer force to rain opponents and then bludgeons them into oblivion with two steel protrusions weighing 8 pounds each.

"It has a good blend of mobility and weapons," Carlberg says. "The basic concept of having a spinning mass was a good idea."

Why? Because the spinning motion stores kinetic energy, which allows it to build up speed and power to unleash a fury.

But what may be the key to success for SpinZone is its mobility. Seiler, who has watched several BattleBots matches televised on Comedy Central, says a successful bot needs to be easily maneuvered by its operator. "It always seems like it's the difficulty the operator has driving that ends up killing them."

Carlberg agrees and. based on his experience in the arena, added a few adjustments to the design. By using drive train technologies that have succeeded in his other robots, he gave SpinZone proven steering methods that allow the operator to move the hot with a .joystick much like those used for video games. "A reliable drive train is everything," he says.

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Title Annotation:The Last Word
Author:Vermillion, Len
Publication:Product Design & Development
Date:Sep 1, 2003
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