Cardboard Robot Deathmatch

Fighting robots are even more awesome than regular robots. But it’s hard for us to imagine tossing all that money (not to mention blood, sweat and tears) into a bot and then watching it get shredded. The folks at Columbia Gadget Works, a Columbia, MO hackerspace had the solution: make the robots out of cardboard.

The coolest thing about building your robots out of cardboard and hot glue is that it’s cheap, but if they’re going to be a modest scale, they can still be fairly strong, quick to repair, and you’re probably going to be able to scrounge all the parts out after a brutal defeat. In short, it’s a great idea for a hackerspace event.

If you’re interested in replicating any of this yourself, have a look at their official rules and be sure to watch this full build-log of the winning robot. (It’s fun to watch him repeatedly burning his fingers on the hot glue starting around 5:44 in the video).

Hackerspace member [gamerdonkey] also pointed out that these guys are no strangers to the magic corrugated material — they built an awesome dragon boat out of the stuff and paddled it to first place in a charity boat race.

What are you waiting for? Get out your matte knife and make something cool out of that pizza box!

21 thoughts on “Cardboard Robot Deathmatch

    1. Words can have different meanings in different contexts. Nobody outside robotics cares about the robot/RC distinction. There are actually lots of people, even in the non-engineering community, who know about it, but relatively few *care.*

    2. You do bring up a good point about what *is* a robot. When we built these we chose to call them “robots” since that is a term most people not familiar with the details can still grasp. I will argue though that most of these are technically robots as they have arduinos on board that interpret the signal from the rc receiver and then execute the command to drive the motor controller. But, having said that, we didn’t include the arduinos to meet the definition of robot. Still, we hope you enjoyed the project!

      1. Out of curiosity — I see that the rules include the possibility of an autonomous vehicle — was there any entrant that wasn’t remote-controlled? I suppose the point that requires them all to be able to be shut down remotely works against this…

  1. That’s awesome! Seems like a lot of fun.

    While most of the weapons seemed relatively harmless, it seems like that dremel saw could have cut through the cardboard as well as a LiPo cell. What’s the protocol for if that happens?

    1. We had a fire extinguisher on hand that could handle chemical fires. The top of the arena is made of hardware cloth which gave us easy access to spray down any of the bots that got a little too hot under the cardboard.

      If that failed, we had plenty of Mt. Dew on hand.

      Just kidding. :)

      1. Sounds reasonable.

        I’d love to see this a more popular thing. It’s relatively inexpensive, provides experience, and looks fun as hell. If this was an event in my city I’d do it for sure!

  2. I’d love to get more information on your battlebox. We are starting cardboard combat bots at our makerspace, and we want to build a safe arena, but keep costs reasonable. What thickness are the sides? assuming it’s polycarbonate?

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