The battle rules

In each round of the competition, the robots fight in a timed battle. The winner is decided by either a ‘knockout’ or, if there is no clear winner once the time runs out, a panel of three expert judges will agree on a ‘judge’s decision’.

There are three ways to win by a knockout:-

  1. Flipping an opponent out of the arena into the surrounding trench.
  2. Manoeuvring your opponent into the ‘pit’ hazard inside the arena.
  3. Immobilising your opponent for 10 seconds through extensive damage or your opponent breaks down and is therefore not able to continue.

In the event that a battle goes to a judges’ decision, the judges award a win based on the following three criteria:

  1. Damage – causing clear damage to an opponent both visually and internally.
  2. Aggression – consistently taking the battle to its opponents.
  3. Control – demonstrating good driving skills and weapon accuracy throughout the battle.

Each category is scored from one to five and the scores are weighted to reflect their importance as follows: Aggression x3, Damage x2, and Control x1.

This results in an overall score and the robot with the highest overall score wins the battle.

Episodes 1-5: Qualifiers

Eight teams and their robots start the show and they face three battle rounds per show:-

Round 1 – Group Battles

The eight competing robots are split into two groups of four. Each group fight each other at the same time in a three-minute battle. The two winners from each group progress to the next round and the two losers from each group are eliminated from the competition.

Round 2 – Mini League ‘Head to Heads’

The four winning robots from the group battles in Round One all enter the mini league, called The Head to Heads.

Each robot fights all of the other robots once in that league, in a series of three minute-long head to head battles. To ensure fairness, the presenters draw names at random to decide which robot fights first.

A win by knockout scores three points, but if the time runs out and there is no winner it goes to the judges to decide the winner – and that robot scores two points.

The two robots in first and second place in the mini-league go through to the final.

Round Three – Final

The two robots in first and second place (based on total points scored) go head to head in a three minute final battle. The winner of the final goes through to the Grand Final at the end of the series (episode 6).

Episode 6: Grand Final

Six teams and their robots start the show. They comprise the five winners from episodes 1-5 and one runner-up selected by the judges based on the on their merits from their previous episode.

The Grand Finalists face up to three rounds as per episodes 1-5:-

  1. Round 1 – Group Battles
  2. Round 2 – Mini League ‘Head to Heads’
  3. Round 3 – The Final

The winner of round three and the final battle is crowned Robot Wars Champion 2016.

The judges

Professor Noel Sharkey

Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at Sheffield University, Prof Sharkey is the only judge to appear in every series of Robot Wars. Prof Sharkey is also a co-director of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics.

Professor Sethu Vijayakumar

A world-renowned roboticist, and Director at the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics at the University of Edinburgh.

Doctor Lucy Rogers

Doctor of Mechanical Engineering and owner of robotics building company, Makertorium, as well as an accomplished author of Its Only Rocket Science.

The battle arena

  • The arena is 20m x 20m squared
  • It is 7m high
  • It is built with 27,864 screws
  • And 18,547 bolts
  • It took 360 litres of paint to cover it
  • There are 16 tonnes of polycarbonate (bulletproof glass) in the roof
  • And 16.5 tonnes of steel in the flooring