Saturday, October 20, 2012

AMMF: It's Robot Fighting Time!

Robots. One week ago, the second annual Atlanta Mini Maker Faire held its first ever robotic combat event primarily organized by yours truly. It seemed like an opportune time to feature destructive machines given the audience and zany maker atmosphere.

What made this event particularly interesting (other than the fact that I tried to organize it while fighting pneumonia) was the experimental team battle format. An exerpt describing the function of the team rules is described below:

The competition shall be composed of two sets of rounds:
  1. Qualifying Rounds
  2.  Elimination Rounds

Qualifying Rounds
Each match will consist of 4 entrants in a 2v2 format. The alliances per match are random. The winners of the bout are declared when both entrants of the opposing team are incapacitated, unable to display controlled translational movement, or are ejected from the arena. Match length will be 3 minutes. If any number of devices on each team are in the arena and still able to display controlled translational movement, the winner will be decided by a judge’s decision.
At the conclusion of each match, points will be awarded to each robot.
  • 2 points for both the robots on the winning team*
  • 1 point for each robot remaining in the arena

*0 points will be awarded to robots that do not attend their designated match time.*

Robots with byes will be compensated with 2 points.

At a specified time designated by the event organizer, the points for each robot will be tallied and the top 4 devices will advance to the Elimination Rounds.

Elimination Rounds
The winners of each match in the elimination round will be determined using the standard 2011 RFL ruleset.
The remaining 4 robots will engage in single-elimination, 1v1 combat beginning with the semi-final round.
The winners of each semi-finals round will advance to a finals round, where the bracket winner will be determined.


This new format is advantageous because it allows robots to maximize the number of matches they fights in a more condensed time period. However there may be possible conflicts regarding the recharge time typically allotted after each match. This value, of typically 20 minutes, would then drive the frequency of the matches, especially for events with a sparse number of robots. The main negative to this format is the amount of pre-planning required. Walk-up registration is difficult to plan given that most of the match organization is currently done by hand. This would require pre-registration unless an algorithm is used.

For the AMMF, we had 12 robots by the time registration was done; that is, 6 ants and 6 beetles. Michael Jeffries of Near Chaos Robotics assembled the match line up with some quick wit. The idea for the AMMF was to attempt to allow the builders to see the attractions of the faire by hosting matches at preset times during the hour. In the case of this event, every half hour. However, given the low number of robots, it meant that competitors at best case would have a max of 1 or 1.5 hours to look around assuming they don't have robots in both weight classes.

I decided not to enter any of robots directly since I believe the EO should never win their own event.

Cool trophies for the winners of each weight class and rumble.

These were simply laser cut acrylic pieces that were pressed together and then welded using acrylic solvents.

We were placed at the base of the stairs between the CULC and Skiles buildings. It was nice and shady, and the stairs offered free seating for the crowd.

The stands were quickly populated by makers and crowd alike.

I was honestly surprised at the number of attendees. The competition was assembled rather late and not actively publicized yet we had massive waves of viewers throughout the day. Equally impressive were the robots.

The Hammer, one of many robots built at the Invention Studio.

Beetleweights engaged in a qualifiers match.

One team preys on the other team.
The best part of the team format is that no matches were particularly boring. There was always at least one spinner which made from a lot of excitement. Some of the most notable matches at embedded below.

By the end, I decided to have some fun too and threw Dominant Mode in the beetleweight rumble. I'm not supposed to win my own rumble.

More videos can be found at the Near Chaos Robotics Youtube Channel

Mow Bot, the beetleweight champion of the event.
With that, I'll call the event a success. The team format was proven to be a big hit, although I think more has to be done in consideration of the builders. This format is great for the audience but the time between cycles on robots is incredibly small. This left very little time for other builders to see other exhibits. In a normal competition where robot combat is the main event, this might not be as large a problem. Still, it might require back to back matches or lessened recharge time. This implies that the team format is best done with a large number of competitors.

Huge thanks to the competitors and members of the robot community who helped set up. This means Randy, Rob, Mike, and several others who not only helped setup brackets, but unload the arena and bring robots so we can have a good show. You guys made this happen!

'Till next time, BOT ON!

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