The sport is called robot combat, so it’s inevitable that weapon systems will be discussed. The
weapon types commonly found on
fighting robots can be broken out into
two major categories: non-kinetic
energy weapons and kinetic energy
Non-kinetic energy weapons are
generally more focused on control of
the opponent over outright damage,
though these systems can and do
often cause serious damage.
Kinetic energy weapons use the
high speed movement of either the
entire robot or a subsystem of it to
cause damage. While non-kinetic
energy weapons may sound safer, all
of these weapon types can be
dangerous and should be treated with
Ramming robots are the most
basic design in robot combat. A
ramming robot relies purely on
strength and power for success.
Ramming robots often incorporate
spikes or heavy chunks of metal on
the front of the robot.
Spikes on a ramming robot are
normally intended to penetrate the
armor of the opposing robot.
Ramming robots with simple metal
chunks on the front
use their drive power
to send their
opponents into the
walls or any hazards in
are sometimes capable
of breaking spinning
weapons. They all have
one thing in common:
they are very hard to
immobilize. They are often
invertible, durable, and have
powerful drive systems.
Wedge robots are similar to
ramming robots. They share the
need for a powerful drive system,
a strong chassis, and good armor.
Wedge robots are among the
most common types used in robot
Many robot builders
incorporate a wedge of some sort
into their design. For some, it’s
the backup plan if the weapon fails.
For other robots, the wedge acts as
part of the weapon — be it leading
into spinning blades or a hiding place
for a powerful lifting arm.
These robots are all about
mechanical advantage. They get under
their opponents and use their drive
power to flip or shove them at high
speeds into an obstacle like a rammer.
Lifting robots can
be viewed as the next
step up from a wedge
robot. They perform
essentially the same
function. They both
make the drive system
of the other robot
ineffective. There are a
few different methods
of constructing lifting
The most basic is pushing or
rotating a single hinged piece of
metal. It’s very effective in its
simplicity. For this style of lifting arm,
linear actuators are often used. Linear
actuators act like pneumatic pistons,
but slower and often in a lighter
Another popular lifting system
uses a four-bar linkage. This system
allows the bar to lift and push at the
same time. It also lets the arm tuck
nicely back into a flat chassis. This
SERVO 02.2018 21
Photo courtesy of
Jim Smentowski /
Rammer. Photo courtesy of Michael Mauldin.
Lifter. Photo courtesy of Chad New.