ComBots Cup VI heavyweight contestants

In October 2011, teams from all over the US, Canada and Brazil came to California to fight for The ComBots Cup - the annual international robot combat championship. The following are the twelve robots (sorted by rank) which fought to the death in a double elimination ladder over the course of the two-day event.

Original Sin won the Cup for the third year in a row, with Sewer Snake coming in second and Vlad the Impaler II ending up in third place.


Robot:  Sewer Snake
Team:  PlumbCrazy
Weapon:  Lifter
Weight:  214 lbs
Rank:  #1
Record:  66-22
Championships: Nine
Driver:  Matt Maxham
Hometown:  Sacramento, CA
Sewer Snake was developed using three main design principles:

Simplicity: Team PlumbCrazy uses off the shelf components laid out as practically as possible to make the robot easy to maintain and repair. While individual fights are won or lost in the arena, the competition is won in the pits.

Mobility: Off road 4-wheeling was the inspiration for Sewer Snake's drive train. Ground clearance and over-sized exposed tires help Sewer Snake get off of other robots or arena debris. The 6-wheel design has redundancy which helps maintain mobility, so that even when Sewer Snake loses tires, it keeps on going.

Modularity: Since robot combat is like a game of "Rock/Paper/Scissors", a modular design helps the robot to be more than just "a rock." Sewer Snake uses trailer hitch material to mount the variety of weapons and armor that are used against different types of opponents, which makes for quick change of weapons between fights.

While following these basic principles, Sewer Snake still knows how to have fun. Over time, Sewer Snake has evolved into the animated, fire-breathing, break-dancing, red-tired beast that loves put on a show. The audience agrees!

Robot:  Original Sin
Team:  Late Night Racing
Weapon:  Wedge
Weight:  220 lbs
Rank:  #2
Record:  44-11
Championships: Six
Driver:  Gary Gin
Hometown:  San Leandro, CA
Since the early years of the sport, Team Late Night Racing had won several events in the 60 pound category. Wanting to up the ante, Original Sin was built in 2006 with the specific goal of winning the ComBots Cup. Although it didn't win the first year out, it has since picked up five first place finishes along the way - including 3 gold medals at RoboGames, before finally winning the Cup its fourth year out in 2009. Original Sin then repeated the win to keep the Cup in 2010.

Original Sin was designed to be easy to build, easy to drive, easy to repair, and relatively inexpensive to maintain. Most of the fabrication of Original Sin was done with common power tools like a jigsaw and a drill press but a few parts did require machining or welding. Its almost square stance makes it extremely stable and easy to drive. Removing the top allows easy access to all internal components so that they can be replaced if needed.

Original Sin uses robust NiCad batteries (which some consider dated tech) to power its two 4.5 horsepower motors. The motors drive the high-traction foam tires and give Original Sin the speed needed to deliver a heavy blow to its enemies with its steel wedge.


Robot:  Touro Maximus
Team:  RioBotz
Weapon:  Spining Drum
Weight:  219 lbs
Rank:  #3
Record:  10-5
Championships: Zero
Driver:  Daniel Freitas
Hometown:  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Touro Maximus, the bull from Brazil, is the heaviest member of the Touro family of drumbots from RioBotz. Designed and built to debut at RoboGames 2009, it is the first and only heavyweight combot from Brazil. Despite its Brazilian origins, Maximus is a US resident, living in California.

Maximus is a very compact and heavily armored aluminum combot with a 70lb steel drum spinning at 8,000 RPM. It uses four long Magmotors in its weapon and drivetrain, powered by eight 32V A123 battery packs.

After RoboGames 2011, it was completely redesigned and rebuilt. Its new chassis was waterjet cut from a 4.5" thick aluminum plate. Both drum and wheel diameters were changed from 6" to 8" to increase weapon energy, drivetrain top speed and ground clearance. Special "outrunner" pulleys, which spin floating around the weapon motors, were conceived to allow for a narrower drum design.

The new tempered steel drum is a unibody with an integrated single tooth design. The drum's polygonal shape was created and optimized using genetic algorithms, which maximized the tooth "bite" while keeping its single tooth perfectly balanced without the need for counterweights. The odd spiral shape resulting from this evolutionary approach inspired the nickname "Snail drum."


Robot:  Last Rites
Team:  Hardcore Robotics
Weapon:  Spinning Bar
Weight:  218 lbs
Rank:  #4
Record:  29-19
Championships: One
Driver:  Ray Billings
Hometown:  Folsom, CA
Currently the kinetic energy king of the combat robotics world, Last Rites is a machine that is both feared and admired. Always a crowd favorite, Last Rites routinely destroys everything in its path which sometimes includes the arena!

Last Rites is constructed from welded tubular chrome-moly steel, and weighs in at 218 pounds. The spinning bar alone weighs 75 pounds, which spins at 2200 rotations per minute. Using cutting edge battery technology and one of the most powerful DC motors there is, Last Rites is always a front-runner at every event in which it competes. When Last Rites enters the arena, destruction follows!

During RoboGames 2010, Last Rites proudly caused more damage to the combat arena (in both monetary and visible damage) than all other robots combined!

Last Rites is a returning ComBots Cup champion, having won the title in 2008. Look for Last Rites and driver Ray Billings to make a serious run at regaining the title this year!


Robot:  Ragin Scotsman
Team:  Scotbotics
Weapon:  Flame Thrower
Weight:  220 lbs
Rank:  #7
Record:  5-4
Championships: Zero
Driver:  Forrest Yeh
Hometown:  Piedmont, CA
Ragin Scotsman is a heavy weight robot built by a joint effort from Piedmont High school's robotics club "Scotbotics" and veteran team Robomaster. Robomaster has competed at many events, and while this is their first heavyweigth robot, they have many 1st place finishes in the smaller weight classes to show for their efforts.

Raging Scotsman is wrapped with a shock-mounted steel wedge that weighs over 45 pounds. It uses a flamethrower, designed to cook and intimidate its foes.

It also spots a lifting arm, concealed inside a tig-welded chromoly frame, and it's prepared to take advantage of enemies when they least expect it.

Its dual driver/weapon operation is just another way this robot "teams up" against the competition.

Ragin Scotsman's drive motors and tires were donated by ComBots help complete this rookie bot and keep it underbudget.


Robot:  Son of Ziggy
Team:  CM Robotics
Weapon:  Pneumatic Flipper
Weight:  220 lbs
Rank:  #8
Record:  2-2
Championships: Zero
Driver:  Michael Worry
Hometown:  Ottawa, ON, Canada
New to the ring, Son of Ziggy is fighting not only the other robotic gladiators, but also fighting to emerge from the shadow of his papa, Ziggy. While many know of Ziggy's five year reign as the super heavyweight champion, Son of Ziggy is just starting to carve his place his history.

A robot from CM Robotics with engineering by Nuvation, Son of Ziggy follows in the footsteps of Ziggy, Texas Heat, CycloneBot, and BravePart. A pneumatic flipper like his papa, Son of Ziggy is nitrogen-based with a primary carbon fiber tank at 4500psi. Titanium armor is worn over a magnesium chassis with Lithium batteries.

Little is known of the relationship between Ziggy and Son of Ziggy. The son has shown some of the talents of his papa, but some say Ziggy thinks his son is impetuous and needs to find his center. Son of Ziggy has taken to pulling Ziggy off his name and calls himself "SoZ". Rumor has it there was an explosive disagreement and Ziggy threw SoZ out of the shop! Time will show if SoZ can step up to his father's high expectations.


Robot:  Great Pumpkin
Team:  Hardcore Robotics
Weapon:  Black Magic
Weight:  201 lbs
Rank:  #14
Record:  3-4
Championships: Zero
Driver:  Ray Billlings
Hometown:  Folsom, CA
Displaying the spirit of Halloween, the Great Pumpkin smiles sinisterly at all opponents.

Sporting a huge steel wedge and powerful drive train, the Great Pumpkin looks to get under its opponents and dominate through shear pushing power.

An all new robot built just for this event, the Great Pumpkin is constructed of a welded tubular steel frame, which supports the large steel wedge up front. The wedge is 3/8" thick, designed to take on the opponent's weapons, and then ask for more.

The drive train consists of a pair of wheelchair motors driving foam filled go-cart tires. This is a simple but effective design, and the Great Pumpkin looks to make his rookie event a good one!


Robot:  Gruff
Team:  University of South Florida
Weapon:  Lifter
Weight:  220 lbs
Rank:  #15
Record:  3-4
Championships: Zero
Driver:  Sam McAmis
Hometown:  Tarpon Springs, FL
Gruff is an electrically powered lifter on a six-wheel drive base with ultra high-strength alloy steel front and corner armor. The angled armor on the corners is designed to deflect weapons away from the flexible side and rear armor.

With six wide wheels and gum rubber tread, the robot is maneuverable enough to keep the front armor facing its opponent while still having good traction. Gruff has a top speed of 17 feet per second.

The lifting mechanism is used to lift the opponent's wheels off the ground or pin them on the arena barrier. The final stage of the lifting mechanism uses nylon straps to control the rotation of the arm. This system absorbs impacts, protecting the motor and gearbox, while also providing a tremendous amount of reduction in a small space.

Gruff was partially funded by a grant from the University of South Florida Office of Undergraduate Research. We would also like to acknowledge support from the USF Department of Mechanical Engineering, The Robotics Interest Group at USF, and Magnum Steel Services Corporation.


Robot:  Vlad the Impaler II
Team:  Walpurgis
Weapon:  Lifter
Weight:  218 lbs
Rank:  #28
Record:  4-15
Championships: Zero
Driver:  Jason Bardis
Hometown:  Mill Valley, CA
Vlad the Impaler II is a menacing lifter with one of the most powerful drive-trains in the sport. Powered by two LEMCO brushed motors, Vlad generates 8 Kilowatts (10.7 horsepower) in its drive train. The lifter is driven by a powerful 2.24 Kilowatt (3 HP) AmpFlow motor is fully capable of lifting another 100 kg (220 pound) robot and dragging it across the arena floor.

Vlad's armor is completely independent of the inner frame and drive train, and this gives the robot a tremendous advantage when taking damage any damaged plates can quickly be replaced without any cutting, welding, or major disassembly. Rubber shock mounts isolate the primary frame from the titanium and lexan outer shell, so even when Vlad gets thrown around by an opponent, the inner frame remains undamaged.

On several occasions, Vlad has slammed at full speed into Last Rites - and even though the primary armor was destroyed, Vlad internal drive-train took no critical damage. The incredible 4QD speed controllers can easily source up to 300 amps without ever losing their "magic smoke." Vlad was originally designed by Gage Cauchois, and rebuilt and extensively modified by David Calkins.


Robot:  Mosquito
Team:  Felk
Weapon:  Prayer
Weight:  150 lbs
Rank:  rookie
Record:  0-0
Championships: Zero
Driver:  Stephen Felk
Hometown:  San Francisco, CA
Mosquito started life in 2001 as part of the 340 pound total, 3-robot multi-bot: The Swarm. Stephen Felk, Jim Smentowski and Paul Mathis liked the idea of instilling chaos, so they built a team of three robots which fought as a single team. Outside of The Swarm, Mosquito alone weighed under 120 pounds. Though their record was nothing to speak of, the craziness of three small machines going after one large one was a huge audience favorite. Swarm vs. Final Destiny remains to this day one of the most memorable fights ever.

Mosquito now finds itself out on its own from the complete Swarm - it fought a few times in Los Angeles at a Sun Micro Systems show in San Francisco, and has had a long career as a demo bot, fighting innumerable "grudge matches" and doing countless education show and tells.

Builder Stephen Felk decided to have a little fun and increase the armor and fight it as a 220. Originally built to handle 340s, the thinking is: "220s: piece of cake." It remains to be seen.

Mosquito is as simple as they come, it has an AR400 wedge in front, two motors, 4 batteries, a radio and a speed controller. It's fast, loud, tough, and barely under control - everything you want in a fighting robot!


Robot:  Blizzard
Team:  Toad
Weapon:  Spinning Disc
Weight:  220 lbs
Rank:  rookie
Record:  0-0
Championships: Zero
Driver:  Michael Mauldin
Hometown:  Liberty Hill, TX
Blizzard is Team Toad's all new heavyweight for ComBots Cup 2011: a culmination of Fuzzy's 12 years of robot combat experience.

Blizzard's 3/16" 6061 aluminum unibody was actually manufactured 10 years ago as a spare for Team Toad's 2001 heavyweight. But new technology means Blizzard has 13% more battery capacity, is 38% faster and has double the horsepower of its predecessor. The spinning weapon weighs 20% less than the earlier thresher, but stores 4 times as much kinetic energy.

Blizzard's 10" flat-proof rubber tires provide superior traction on the debris-filled combat arena floor. The knobby tire pattern sheds dirt and metal better than slick tires. Heavier tires mean larger shock forces when hitting solid objects, so each titanium drive axle has a spring-clutch that slips during high shock loads, protecting the motors from impact forces.

The biggest change is Blizzard's weapon: 40 pounds of spinning P20 tool steel 9" in diameter and 2.5" thick. A 5 HP AmpFlow motor spins the disc over 4,000 rpm -- so rapidly that gyroscopic forces flip Blizzard up on two wheels if it turns sharply to the right. The weapon motor also has a spring clutch on its chain drive, decoupling the motor during impacts.


Robot:  Black Widow!
Team:  Crazy Susan's Family
Weapon:  Lifter
Weight:  219 lbs
Rank:  rookie
Record:  0-0
Championships: Zero
Driver:  Hal Rucker
Hometown:  Hillsborough, CA
Hal Rucker and his daughter Hannah have engineered a super low profile heavyweight that's just 2.5 inches thick. With eight wheels and a red lifter in the middle of its body, rookie Black Widow! will be an interesting new contender to watch.

The front features an S7 tool steel wedge that slides on the arena floor. The wheels are protected by shock-mounted guards cut at an angle such that even if Black Widow! is lifted up on one side, four wheels still touch the floor. And the electric lifting arm, which is flush with the top of the bot, can rotate all the way around and park itself flush on the other side.

Black Widow! is an invertible design; if it gets flipped over it operates exactly the same. Even the front wedge is symmetric and hinged so it rides on the floor surface either way.

Inside Black Widow! are twelve 36 volt motors powered by 80 A123 Lithium Ion battery cells. Because the chassis is so thin, dozens of custom small gears were machined out of chrome-moly steel and hardened to be tough enough to handle the torque supplied by all 12 motors.