Robot battle competition comes to Oxford

This Saturday (30thNovember), we will be welcoming robot fans from across the country to the Science Oxford Centre for the Antweight World Series 60 (AWS 60) competition. AWS is a tournament for combat robots that weigh no more than 150gms – that’s about the same as a cheeseburger – and this year is the competition’s 20thanniversary.

Over 120 robots – designed, built and driven by 60 teams of robot specialists, will be entering the arena to compete. In the style of Robot Wars, two robots will be pitted against each other for three-minute duels, with the challenge of either forcing their opponent out of the battle zone or disabling them. If both robots survive for the three minutes, a team of judges decide the winner.

The winners from each round then battle each other and so on until just two are left to fight in the final battle. The overall champion receives a trophy but there also certificates for categories such as Most Destructive Robot, Best Design etc..  To mark the competition’s 20thanniversary, AWS 60 will also celebrate those who have contributed to its success.

The Antweight World Series is a volunteer-led competition that aims to bring together people in the robot building community and is open to ‘roboteers’ of all ages. The competitions take place three times a year in locations all over the country. Science Oxford is proud to be supporting AWS 60 and our colleague Sarah Townson, Science Oxford’s Technology Projects Officer, who is helping to organise it.

Sarah says “I’ve been building antweight robots for the past two years and like the creativity and challenge of building something within the size constraints that’s both interesting and effective in the arena. The Antweight community is very friendly and collaborative and there’s always someone to give you helpful advice if you need it. I also enjoy the challenge of trying to drive the robot – which is not as easy as it looks!  It’s great that we’re hosting it here at the Science Oxford Centre as it’s a chance to show off our lovely new spaces.”

She adds, “The arena will be set up in the Centre theatre and teams will be able to use the classroom space for their pop-up workshops. Building robots is a great way to learn so many different skills, from design and engineering to programming and battle tactics.”

David Weston, who has been attending ant events since 2006 and is AWS committee member and AWS 60 co-organiser, says, “The Antweight weight class has become increasingly popular thanks to promotion through outlets like live shows, universities or even nods on TV’s Robot Wars.The technology we use has also changed a lot and made it much more accessible to the masses.”

Bridget Holligan, Director of Education & Engagement at Science Oxford, said “We’re delighted to be supporting this exciting event and welcoming new people to the Centre.  All donations collected at AWS will be invested in our outreach activities that promote science and technology across the region.”

As well as the main Antweight battles, there’ll also be a ‘Glow in the dark’ rumble where the robots compete in total darkness with only glow stickers to navigate them, plus a Fleaweight competition for tiny robots weighing just 75gms. And, just for the fun of it, there’s a Gladiator battle. Sarah says, “The Gladiator rumble is an all-in gladiatorial fight where all robots can enter the arena. It’s usually very chaotic but great fun.”

AWS 60 is closed to the public but you can watch the day’s events via live-streaming app Twitch. We’ll send a link via Twitter later this week @scienceoxford.

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