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Robot Wars team talks engineering

Make Robotics, a team from TV show Robot Wars, came in to Kings Langley campus to talk to students, from the College and Parmiter’s School, accompanied by their robot, ‘Behemoth’.

As well as a chance to show students the capabilities of their impressive machine, they were also on hand to speak to the students about engineering and robotics - continuing the College’s focus on engineering at the Kings Langley campus. Representatives from global technology leaders Imagination Technologies were also in attendance.

Make Robotics, who are based locally in Hemel Hempstead, were invited in by Motor Vehicle Engineering tutor Dave Boyle.

Robot Wars Engineering pic 3Robot Wars Engineering pic 2

At midday, everybody made their way into a classroom at the College’s Kings Langley campus. Make Robotics played some videos from the ‘Robot Wars’ series, showcasing ‘Behemoth’ and discussed the process of building their machine from scratch.

Make Robotics’ Kane Aston, said: “We made our first robot in 1998 and have been developing it since. The whole thing started when we were in school – and after watching the first series of Robot Wars on TV decided it might be a good idea to build our very own robot. We used simple components from school as well as a wheelchair! Things just went from there and now we’re currently on the eighth version.”

He went on to speak about the specification of the robot – covering pneumatic ramps, liquid C02, and the 100kg weight limit the robots are required to meet. Behemoth can flip twice its own weight, 200kg and the front piston is capable of one tonne of force.

Make Robotics’ Michael Pritchard, spoke about the materials used in the robot and the reason why they were carefully chosen. For example, even the material for the strobe lights is carefully considered. Make Robotics use solid acrylic for their lights, not glass. He then addressed the electronics inside Behemoth, issues robots face and the years of development and tweaking invested. The speed and force of mechanisms is integral to a fighting robot and you learn a lot throughout the process. Michael and Kane both agreed that you also learn a lot about materials, in particular working with metals.

Answering questions from the students, Make Robotics said: “The six-wheel drive is powered by two Lemco LEM-130-95 motors, which are usually designed for boats, with LiPO4 A123s batteries. Batteries last for approximately two fights, at three minutes each. Power used is immense, so that’s actually quite a lot of time. Otherwise, they can last anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour in non-fighting situations.”

Another student asked about the damage fighting robots have to endure. Michael Pritchard said: “Fighting robots go through a lot of punishment. It’s not a hobby for someone that wants to make something and put it on display or up on a mantel!”

A student then asked about Behemoth’s biggest nemesis, Kane said: “It’s got to be Razor. We’ve had a few tough battles with them and the fights are close.” Michael added: “Fights between Behemoth and Razor have always gone down to the judges’ decision.”

After the classroom session, Make Robotics took Behemoth to the workshop to show everybody what they’d been waiting to see – Behemoth in action. They showed off the strength, speed and force of their machine, flipping itself upside down and back up again, pushing tables and even pushing and a Peugeot 207 across the workshop.

Robot Wars Engineering pic 1

Michael Pritchard said: “It was nice to visit a local college, the students were really intrigued and excited. I was also very impressed with Kings Langley campus and the facilities here.”

Five design engineers from Imagination Technologies enjoyed their visit to the College. Chris P Wilson, Design Engineer at Imagination, said: “The day’s been great and very impressive.”

Carlo Manasse, Design Engineer at Imagination, added: “I was surprised at much power the robot had.”

Jolyon, a student at Parmiter’s School, said: “Today has been an interesting insight into how the same material can be used in different ways. We can take a lot away from these visits to the College, and it always helps towards our school work.”

Arthur, a student at Parmiter’s School, said: “We get to see things we learn in school in a practical setting. It’s fantastic being able to come to West Herts College – it’s a great opportunity.”

Nick Ward, Level 3 Motor Vehicle Engineering student, said: “It was all very advanced. When you see it [the robot] in real life, you see how much work it takes to build and maintain. It’s definitely more impressive in person that it is on TV. It’s been such a great opportunity and a really good experience.”

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