Productivity East is usually home to UEA’s engineering students, but on 5 November it played host to almost 100 robots and their creators in the RobotWars Antweight World Series (AWS65). Antweights are small robots that weigh no more than 150 grams and must fit inside a four-inch cube. AWS65 saw 187 robot battles take place over a seven-hour tournament.
The battles themselves were conducted in a custom-built arena, made of wood and polycarbonate. The arena was created in-house by the event’s organiser—and Productivity East’s Senior Lab Technician—Peter Hemmins, who utilised 3D printers, a laser cutter, and all the other facilities boasted by UEA’s School of Engineering.
The majority of robot combat events have historically taken place in the North or the West of England; this event was a breakthrough for the robotics community here in the East. Peter said “We had people attend from all over the country, eager to get in the arena and put their creations to the test. This event was just the beginning of bringing robot combat back to the East of England, with more competitions already in the works.”
This event also serves as proof of concept for a local inter-school competition, which will see local schools supplied with kits to design and build competitive robots themselves, before convening at UEA to battle it out amongst their fellow pupils.
Peter said, “Although the aim of these robots is to destroy their opponents, there is a lot to learn from the process of creating them: principles of design, electronics, mechanics, and manufacturing. But the learning isn’t done once the robot is built. Competing builds a community of rivals who can learn from each other and create a shared knowledge base, from which you can help novice builders.”