SERVO 07.2016 25
project is essential.
At the Event
The production team at the show
are stone pros. They are organized,
helpful, and on point. There are
arrangements made for your stay and
travels, but even the best of
production teams can only take you
and yours so far. Remember that in
the final analysis, it is up to you and
your team to arrange for your comfort
and needs. You need to be prepared
to spend some more money.
Your team needs to get from a
hotel to the venue. Your WHOLE team
— not just the three guys that
wandered down for breakfast. Make
sure there are enough seats in some
sort of transport to get everyone to
the show in preferably one trip. This
may take multiple vehicles.
Coordinate with the rest of the
team as to who is renting what and
when. Do this in advance; it will be
cheaper. Same with beds. Production
will provide a set number of rooms,
but it is up to you to have somewhere
for everyone to sleep.
Make sure everybody knows how
they are getting from A to B (airport
to the hotel, the hotel to the venue —
whatever). Equally important: Ensure
everyone knows WHEN they are
getting from A to B. Set a pickup time
and location for each and every trip.
Specify if they are to have had
breakfast prior to leaving or that it is
available along the way.
Set leave times for EACH trip
before the team scatters to the winds
for socializing/ building so there is no
confusion; same with locations for
pickup. Count noses before roll-out.
Have a quick meeting before
everyone scatters at the end of the
night. Find out if there is shopping
required for the new day and what
kind of priority it is. Get an idea of
what kind of logistic challenges you
have coming so you can sort it prior
to an emergency. Is there family
coming that needs picking up? Are
you dead in the water until the
McMaster Will-Call desk opens in the
morning? Do you need laundry done?
Any time there is a large group of
strangers gathered in close proximity
for any length of time, there is a
secret and silent competition, and
BattleBots is no exception. Germs vie
for the title of “Most Disgusting” and
“Greenest Mucus” as well as other
awards that are important to their
kind. You need to be prepared for
what many of us call BotPox.
The best advice I can give you is
watch your hygiene. Don’t eat open
food. Hand sanitize obsessively. Good
diet and good sleep is not likely for
competitors. Do what you can with
vitamins and get as much rest as you
can snatch. Channel all that good
advice your mother gave you when
you went to camp.
It is Television
I debated with my various selves
for some time as to including this
part. You can see that I won.
BattleBots is an amazing
experience for anybody in the world
of robot combat. However, it is
absolutely critical to never forget this
central truth: This is a television show.
It is television that is paying the bills,
fronting the cash, and paying the
prizes and the checks of the
staggering numbers of professional TV
folks and professional robot folks
working so hard to put on this
There are going to be decisions
made that you will disagree with. There
are rules you will hate. At some point,
someone will say that it is not good for
the competitive nature of the sport.
The only response to this is: It is a
television show first. You signed up to
be on a television show. Suck it up.
Additionally, because it is a TV
show, there are pressures and inputs
you will not find at other events. The
schedule WILL change without notice
because of things that as robot
builders we just don’t understand (or
even care about). You must accept
this. There will be conflicting
information that comes from what
looks to you like the same people —
they are not. There are the folks
running the fight, and there are the
folks running the TV show. They are
not the same (they are allies, sort of);
they have different bosses in their
In general, the TV folks will
prevail in any sort of real dispute
because they are paying the bills.
There are going to be people that
want to get you on camera, while
others (at the exact same time) want
you in a safety check. You must
Remember! You wanted THIS.
This exact thing. It is heady and it is
unique, and there is no other show
like it on the face of this earth.
I have only touched on the
sharpest of high points here. There is
so much more to this experience that
is worth discussing for the big bot
aficionado, but it will need to wait for
other articles and other people to
You could get a very amusing
series talking about the personalities
in the pits, and the incredible
sportsmanship and camaraderie of the
builders. (I was squeeling like a five
year old for the first days, meeting so
many of my personal heroes in the
sport; they are such genuine, helpful,
There is a wealth of back-stage
gossip that would appeal to anyone
interested in the goings on of show
biz, and stories of the hard work and
professionalism of the crew (and the
cast and producers of course, but I
am loyal first to my own kind).
Of course, the machines
themselves are worthy of any amount
of scribing; they are hugely
destructive, inventive, and beautiful.
We are all in for an absolutely
amazing spectacular show. SV