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Billnye spinner.jpg
Publicity still of Bill Nye, the show's technical expert, in the BattleBots arena
Genre Reality television
Created by Greg Munson and Trey Roski
Narrated by Tim Green, Sean Salisbury and Bil Dwyer
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 94
Executive producer(s) Mack Anderson, Bradley Anderson, Debbie Liebling
Running time 30 minutes - 1 hour
Original channel Comedy Central
Original airing August 30, 2000 – December 21, 2002
External links

BattleBots was an American company that hosted robot combat competitions. BattleBots was also the name of the television show created from the competition footage hosted by comedian Bil Dwyer. BattleBots Inc. was headquartered in Vallejo, California and held most of its competitions in the San Francisco Bay area.

In a BattleBots event the competitors are remote-controlled armed and armored machines designed to fight in an arena combat elimination tournament. If both combat robots are still operational at the end of the match, the winner is determined by a point system based on damage, aggression, and strategy.

The television show BattleBots aired on the American cable network Comedy Central for five seasons, covering five BattleBots tournaments. The first season aired starting in August 2000, and the fifth season aired starting in August 2002. Hosts of BattleBots were Dwyer and Sean Salisbury (with Tim Green replacing Salisbury after the second season) and correspondents included former Baywatch actresses Donna D'Errico, Carmen Electra, and Traci Bingham, former Playboy Playmate Heidi Mark, and identical twins Randy and Jason Sklar. Bill Nye was the show's "technical expert". The show's match announcer was longtime boxing ring announcer Mark Beiro.

After five seasons, Comedy Central terminated their contract with BattleBots Inc. in late 2002. As of February 2015, it was officially confirmed that ABC has placed a 6-episode order for a revived version of the series.[1]

Early history[edit]

BattleBots is an offshoot of the original American version of Robot Wars, the brainchild of Marc Thorpe. Robot Wars had financial backing from Sme communications, a New York record company. The Thorpe/Sme partnership broke up in 1997, starting many years of legal wrangling between Thorpe and Profile Records (the former Sme communications). Profile licensed Robot Wars to a UK production company and Robot Wars ran for seven years as a popular television program in the UK.

The robot builders left behind in San Francisco formed BattleBots, Inc. and began a series of competitions. The first was held in Long Beach, California in August 1999 and was also cybercast on ZDTV. The second, held in November 1999, in Las Vegas, Nevada was a pay per view event. These led to the five semi-annual BattleBots tournaments televised as prime time series on the American network Comedy Central starting in May 2000.[1]

Weight classes[edit]

Robots at BattleBots tournaments were separated into four weight classes. The weight limits increased slightly over time. At the final tournaments the classes were:

  • Lightweight – 60 pounds (27 kilograms)
  • Middleweight – 120 pounds (54 kilograms)
  • Heavyweight – 220 pounds (100 kilograms)
  • Superheavyweight – 340 pounds (154 kilograms)

'Walking' robots ('StompBots') propelled by means other than wheels were initially given a 50% weight bonus. The rules changed following the victory of a heavyweight StompBot (Son of Whyachi) at BattleBots 3.0. For BattleBots 4.0 and beyond only a 20% weight bonus was given to walkers and the technical rules specified that walking mechanisms not use cam operated walking mechanisms as they were functionally too similar to wheel operation. Since the rules change, walking robots have entered the competition, but none have achieved any success beyond preliminary rounds.


Matches are three minutes long. During a match, two robots do their best to destroy each other using whatever means available.

There are only two events that cause the match to be paused and people enter the BattleBox. One is the event that the robots are stuck together and cannot separate or that both have simultaneously become immobilized. The other scenario is that one or both 'bots have caught on fire. In that case, the people entering the BattleBox are equipped with a fire extinguisher.

If a robot is unable to move for thirty seconds, because it is too badly damaged or it is stuck on the arena hazards, it is declared knocked out. The driver may also call a "tap-out" to forfeit the match if his or her robot is about to be destroyed. This ends the match ten seconds later; the opposing driver is "asked" (but not instructed) not to attack during the ten-second count.

In about half the matches, both robots survive the three minutes; at that point, three judges distribute a total of 45 points (15 points a judge, 5 points per judge per category) over three categories. The robot with the higher score wins. The judging categories are Aggression, Strategy, and Damage. A robot who hangs back safely from its opponent will not get many Aggression points; one in there fighting the whole time, however, will. The Strategy category is about how well a robot exploits its opponent's weaknesses, protects its own, and handles the hazards. A robot driving over the kill saws will lose points here, unless it had good reason to do so, while a robot that is able to attack its opponent's weak areas will gain points. The Damage category is for how much damage the bot can deal to its opponent while remaining intact itself.

The winner moves on; the loser is eliminated from the tournament.

At the end of the tournament, a series of 'rumbles' or 'melee rounds' are typically held in each weight class, allowing robots that survived the main tournament to fight in a 'free for all' in a 5-minute match. Occasionally there are too many robots for one rumble, and multiple rumbles are held with the top surviving bots competing in a final event. During the Season 5 Heavyweight rumble (the first rumble of that competition), a sheared-off robot part went through the Lexan arena roof and fell (harmlessly) into the audience. Because of this, the rest of the rumbles were canceled due to safety concerns.[2]

The BattleBox[edit]

The BattleBox is a 48' x 48' square arena designed to protect the drivers, officials, and audience from flying shrapnel and charging bots. It has a steel floor and steel-framed walls and roof paneled with thick, bulletproof polycarbonate plastic. The teams bring their robots in through doorways, which are sealed after all humans have exited. The drivers control their machines from outside the sealed arena.

Arena hazards[edit]

Controlled by the BattleBots hazard operator "Pulverizer Pete", the arena hazards are intended to make fights more interesting and unpredictable, and to reward drivers who can avoid the hazards while pushing or carrying their opponent into them. The hazards include:

  • Pulverizers: Originally pneumatic powered standard sledgehammers that did minimal damage, the Pulverizers were first upgraded to 50 pound aluminum mallets for season 2, and were again upgraded to 150 pound mallets for season 3 and beyond. The pulverizers were capable of causing serious damage to the lighter weight class robots.
  • Spike Strips: The lower walls of the arena are lined with inward pointing 6-inch long sharpened steel spikes. Pushing an opponent hard into a wall can sometimes lodge it into the spikes, immobilizing it.
  • Spinners: Large, rapidly spinning discs embedded in the arena floor, Not intended to damage a robot, but rather to interfere with navigation. The spinners could fling lighter class robots across the arena, but the impact on heavier robots was minimal
  • Kill Saws: Spinning circular saw blades that rise out of slots in the arena floor under the control of "Pulverizer Pete". These carbide-tipped saw blades can damage a robot's tires or chassis. In later seasons, red 'throwing blades' were added to increase the chance of a bot being thrown across the arena.
  • Pistons: Introduced in Season 3, the Pistons are steel columns that raise and lower from the floor without warning. They can stop a charging robot or tip a slow moving robot onto its side. The Pistons were removed for Seasons 4 and 5.
  • Ramrods: Sharpened steel spikes that rise up out of the arena floor in groups of six, serving either to lift a robot off the ground or damage vulnerable portions of the undercarriage.
  • Hell Raisers: A pneumatic ram can tilt up specific sections of the arena floor. The 15 degree tilt may become a launching ramp, or may abruptly block passage. The Hell Raisers were removed for Season 5 to allow more uncluttered room for the robots.
  • Screws: Introduced for season 3, these devices were a modification to the static spike strips. The screws were continually rotating augers placed horizontally along the edges of the arena floor. The Screws were intended to scrape up a bot, and possibly drag it closer to the Pulverizers due to the corkscrew design. Much like the Spinners, the Screws had a greater effect on the lighter weight classes—although their impact on all weight classes was small. For Season 5, the screws were upgraded with biting 'teeth' to better catch onto robots. Their rotation was also modified so that instead of 'pushing' in one direction, they converged in a corner from opposite directions and created a 'V' that could damage or turn over robots.

Tournament winners[edit]

Long Beach; August 1999[edit]

  • Gigabot Winner – BioHazard (defeating Kill-o-Amp 2, Monster, Tazbot, and Killerhurtz (twice))
  • Megabot Winner – Son Of Smashy (defeating GoldDigger by forfeit, Ankle Biter, Deadblow, and Knee Breaker (twice))
  • Kilobot Winner – Ziggo (defeating Hot Air (Dr. Inferno/Air Burial, Multibot), Executioner (twice), Toe Crusher, and Defiant)

Las Vegas; November 1999[edit]

  • Superheavyweight Winner – Minion (defeating S.L.A.M., World Peace and Ricon)
  • Heavyweight Winner – Vlad The Impaler (defeating Kill-O-Amp, BioHazard, Rhino and Voltarc)

San Francisco; June 2000 (Season 1.0)[edit]

  • Superheavyweight Winner – Minion (defeating GrayMatter, Grendal, Rammstein and DooAll)
  • Heavyweight Winner – Vlad The Impaler (defeating GoldDigger, Tazbot, Overkill, Punjar and Voltarc)
  • Middleweight Winner – Hazard (defeating Pegleg, Turtle Roadkill, Spin Orbiting Force and Deadblow)
  • Lightweight Winner – Backlash (defeating Disposable Hero, The Crusher, Endotherm, Das Bot and Alpha Raptor)

Las Vegas; November 2000 (Season 2.0)[edit]

  • Superheavyweight Winner – Diesector (defeating Hamunaptra, World Peace, Rammstein, War Machine and Atomic Wedgie)
  • Heavyweight Winner – BioHazard (defeating Marvel of Engineering (M.O.E.), Suicidal Tendencies, Nightmare, frenZy and Vlad the Impaler)
  • Middleweight Winner – Spaz (defeating Tobor Rabies, Blue Streak, Buddy Lee Don't Play In The Street, Bad Attitude and El Diablo)
  • Lightweight Winner – Ziggo (defeating Scrap Metal, Scrap Daddy LW55, Afterthought 2.0, Beta Raptor and Backlash)

Treasure Island; May 2001 (Season 3.0)[edit]

  • Superheavyweight Winner – Vladiator (defeating Juggerbot, Hammertime, Revision Z, Techno Destructo, Diesector and Minion)
  • Heavyweight Winner – Son Of Whyachi (defeating Shaka, Crab Meat, Kill-O-Amp, Nightmare, MechaVore, Hexadecimator and BioHazard)
  • Middleweight Winner – Hazard (defeating Fusion, Zion, F5, T-Wrex and Little Drummer Boy)
  • Lightweight Winner – Dr Inferno Jr (defeating Blood Dragon, Toe Crusher, Bad Habit, Herr Gepoünden, Sallad and Gamma Raptor)

Treasure Island; November 2001 (Season 4.0)[edit]

  • Superheavyweight Winner – Toro (defeating Maximus, The Judge, Vladiator, Little Blue Engine and New Cruelty)
  • Heavyweight Winner – BioHazard (defeating Stealth Terminator, Jabberwock, Nightmare, Tazbot and Overkill)
  • Middleweight Winner – Hazard (defeating Timmy, SABotage, El Diablo, Heavy Metal Noise and Complete Control)
  • Lightweight Winner – Ziggo (defeating Snowflake, Serial Box Killer, Wedge of Doom, Death By Monkeys, and The Big B)

Treasure Island; May 2002 (Season 5.0)[edit]

  • Superheavyweight Winner – Diesector (defeating Final Destiny, Dreadnought, HammerTime, New Cruelty and Vladiator)
  • Heavyweight Winner – BioHazard (defeating Center Punch, Greenspan, MechaVore, Aces and Eights, and Voltronic)
  • Middleweight Winner – T-Minus (defeating TriDent, Double Agent, Huggy Bear, previously undefeated Hazard and S.O.B.)
  • Lightweight Winner – Dr Inferno Jr (defeating Afterburner, Tentoumushi 8.0, Death By Monkeys, Gamma Raptor and Wedge of Doom)


JAKKS Pacific created two series of BattleBots toys: the smaller BattleBashers and larger Grip N' Grapplers were made.

  • Bots made into BattleBashers include: Biohazard, Vlad The Impaler, Alpha Raptor, Minion, Atomic Wedgie, Backlash, Bad Attitude and El Diablo
  • Bots made into Grip N' Grapplers include: Toro, Killerhurtz, Ziggo, DieSector, TazBot, Grendel, Mauler 5150, Frenzy, and Deadblow.

Tiger Electronics created two series of remote controlled BattleBots toys:

  • The simple 'Custom Series' robots included Minion, Killer Hurtz, El Diablo, Vlad the Impaler, Doo All, Blendo, Dr. Inferno Jr., and Son of Whyachi.
  • The more complex 'Pro Series' were larger and had separate radio control of the weaponry. Biohazard and Diesector models were offered.

McDonald's released Happy Meal BattleBots toys from April 26 to May 23, 2002.[3]

  • BattleBots made into Happy Meal toys include: Ankle Biter, Biohazard, DieSector, Ginsu, Mechadon, Mecha Tentamushi and Overkill. The chain also offered a new bot called "Mac Attack", which was a hamburger shaped robot with spinning saws.

Two video games based on BattleBots were released for Game Boy Advance, BattleBots: Beyond the BattleBox in 2002 and BattleBots: Design & Destroy in 2003. Another game was in development by THQ for PlayStation 2 and GameCube.,[4] but was cancelled.

Information on additional BattleBots toys can be found at Mutant Robots.


Recent developments[edit]

In February 2008, BattleBots announced[5] that ESPN had offered to broadcast a "Collegiate BattleBots Championship" competition limited to a single 160-pound weight class to be held during the summer of 2008, with competitors from as many as 160 colleges. Plans called for a "professional" 220-pound class tournament to be filmed at the same venue, but the broadcast deal was for the college teams only.[6]

The deal with ESPN fell through, but a delayed competition took place April 21–25, 2009 with fewer than 20 college teams participating. Three divisions competed at the event: high school (middleweight), college (middleweight), and pro (heavyweight). BattleBots announced that some video from the college tournament would air on the CBS College Sports Network in summer 2009. The airing was first pushed back to December 9, then cancelled due to an asserted inability to sell commercial time.[7] BattleBots claimed a broadcast deal with Fox Television Studios, but no air date was announced and a later announcement confirmed cancellation.[8]

On February 6, 2015 ABC announced that Battlebots will return as a six-episode series during the summer of 2015.[9]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]