15kg Battlebot FMB World Cup (Robots in China!)


Trip summed up in one image



The odds of me attending this event were astronomically low but somehow everything worked out in my favor resulting in a fantastic two-week trip to Shanghai this past summer (2018).

It started with an invitation to compete in the FMB World Cup for 15kg (~33lb) fighting robots which was taking place at China Joy, the largest electronic/entertainment event in China with something like 400,000 people attending.

Normally I would have been honored by this invitation, but China is really far away to go in order to fight a 30lb robot so I probably would have passed. BUUUUT by some miracle, this event was taking place in Shanghai, the week before the World YoYo Contest would be happening, also in SHANGHAI. And so I made the excellent decision to make the mega super turbo two week trip to compete in the world championship for both my hobbies!

It started with two of the sketchiest boxes USPS had ever seen.


Full of everything I would need to compete with and repair my 30lber from home in California!

Photo Aug 23, 9 21 28 PM

I then eagerly worked at my internship while waiting for the glorious first two weeks of August where I would get to compete!

One really nice feature of the waterjet slotted together frame is that Rebound can go from a flat pile of parts to fully assembled in about 20 minutes.

Finally, July 31st rolled around and it was time to head to China! Where my “team” consisting of me and my mom would be representing MIT, and America in the world cup.

Photo Aug 02, 12 57 56 AM

The Chinese robots were quite scary. They have competitions every month, and are so close to manufacturers that their robots have evolved way faster than any American robots. Additionally, because of the extra 3lbs they design with, the Chinese tend to have much bigger motors in their robots, with some insane spinup times and top speeds. Meanwhile, I showed up with my first iteration of my 30lber (and I had a weight disadvantage).

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I can’t believe it’s not Megatron

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With Team Reality to send to Jamison haha

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An absolutely gorgeous pneumatic flipper from Metal Skull Robotics. This is the level of design I aspire to be at.

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A silly picture of some of us international folk looking at 60 seconds of Glory.

The competition was run in a different format than most. The 48 competitors were split up into 8 groups of 6, with one international team per qualifying group. Every bot in each group played each other and the top two robots from each heat made up the top 16 for single elimination.

The competition also catered to being more of a show and so they had super models and played music every time we entered the arena.

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Photo Sep 14, 9 01 56 AM

The top 6 robots are the 6 from my qualifier.

My first fight was against a very interesting thwackbot that had hammers literally attached to its wheels. Although it was an easy match, it was extremely beneficial because I found I had a lot of difficulty moving around the arena. My wedge was ground to be flush on all 3 edges, but the arena floor, much like Battlebots, was covered in a thick layer of rubbery paint. By the end of the match, there was a thin film of gray sludge at the base of my wedge, and so I decided to grind up the sides to get rid of some resistance when moving.

My second fight was even more interesting! It was against this guy:

Photo Jul 30, 9 16 39 AM

A 45 lb robot with an arm that pokes? He actually had done fairly well in the past because of his weight bonus, but also because he managed to unplug people’s wires with some sticks he attached to his arm.

The match was rather strange. I really wanted to flip him over, but his outer skirt was long enough and soft enough that my blade would just pass straight through it when I got under, but my 30lb robot was unable to fully lift his 45lb chassis. At some point he got high sided by his torn frame and he got counted out.

Photo Jul 08, 8 33 01 AM

My next fight was against a robot called EVA which was a pneaumatic flipper with some sort of distance sensor to automatically flip. These guys continuously came over to my pit to measure Rebound, shoving paper under my wedge to see where it was flush, which kind of annoyed me, but it didn’t matter for the match!

Photo Aug 03, 9 08 41 PM (1)

From the very first hit, I got under his fork, actually bending it up into the sensor. From there it was just a matter of hitting him until he tapped out. At some point I even hit his air tank which was pretty scary.

My next fight was definitely my toughest. It was against two very friendly retired engineers who build a horizontal spinner with a larger than 2ft blade!

Photo Jul 06, 12 45 43 PM

The blade and frame were also painted so that when it’s spinning, the top looks like Captain America’s shield which was super cool.

The fight lasted all of 10 seconds. We both spunup, hit weapon to weapon, flew across the arena, and unfortunately I was unable to spin.

I shattered all the internal components of his weapon assembly, but he got a very lucky hit on me.

Photo Aug 04, 2 14 49 AM

Straight through my pulley , and hitting the weapon rail.

Photo Aug 04, 2 14 45 AM

Fortunately that damage was all superficial. The weapon shaft and wedge were so rigid that the weapon and wedge remained parallel and straight, and only this region was bananad.

Photo Aug 04, 2 14 52 AM

I also did bend my drive shaft when I slammed into the wall but that was an easy fix.

My last fight was against a small tombclone which went very quickly. I hit from underneath his blade so after a few hits he lost radio comms.

Now with a record of 4 wins, 1 loss, I was seeded first in my qualifier and made it to the top 16!

Photo Aug 05, 1 54 51 AM

Out of all the international teams, only the Americans made it so we took a team picture!

And with our luck, the drum spinner (Yahoo) in the middle and I were fighting first.

This match was pretty disappointing for me.

We tried to outdrive each other and at some point, Yahoo clipped the corner of my frame and that was enough to cause the drive motors to tear our their threads holding them to the gearbox and I no longer had drive. I also didn’t know what happened and so when I twiddle the stick to try to get it to move, the phases shorted and my drive escs caught fire. I literally went out in a blaze of glory!

Lesson learned again! Don’t trust the Chinese threads on critical components.

In the end, the top 4 ended up all being Chinese, with 1st and 2nd place actually being the same robot built by the same guy.

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1st and 2nd place (left and right)

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International team picture midway through the tournament so we were all in the middle of repairs

Photo Aug 06, 1 57 44 AM

International teams with the founder of FMB, Caesar

Some other teams were very excited I was from MIT and so Rebound stickers ended up on a lot of robots 🙂

Overall I really enjoyed competing at FMB and maybe I’ll be back with an even bigger robot next year!


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