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BBC ‘Robot Wars’ at Millfield

Millfield computer scientists enjoyed a day of robotics with Rory Mangles, captain of ‘Team Nuts’ in the recent series of Robot Wars on BBC2.

Rory spent the day at Millfield, talking to GCSE and A-level classes about competitive robotics. He focused on combat robots, his speciality, but also went into detail about autonomous categories such as line followers and robot football. The computer science behind these robots was explored, from the algorithms robots use to navigate around a maze, to the circuitry needed to interpret commands from the “driver” on a remote controller. Rory showed videos demonstrating some of his more destructive creations but pupils were also able to have a go with a host of his “antweight” robots in a portable arena.

Rory also gave an evening talk as part of the Sixth Form Enrichment Programme. This focused on how to build a robot, from concept to competition. He went through the computer aided design process; decisions about materials and power supplies to balance power, weight and manoeuvrability; and control systems. He even brought along some of the remains of ‘Nuts’, his Robot Wars entry, to demonstrate the huge forces involved when 100kg robots go up against each other. He also talked about his plans for the next incarnation, bringing examples of the custom-made steel plates used in the chassis and the purpose-built circuit boards used in the control system.

Published: August 16 2017

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