abandon all hope ye robots who enter

 

 Towering Inferno

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  • Featured on Movies For Guys Who Like Movies, April 2001
  • On the cover of Design News Magazine, April 2001
  • Displayed at UCSB Chancellor's fundraiser reception 2001
  • Fought at BattleBots, San Francisco 2001--top 32
  • Appeared in 2 episodes' updates in season 3.0
  • Appeared in 1 full fight in season 4.0
  • Competed in season 5.0
  • Status: donated to NTMA machining school to inspire students

STORY: I reflected upon the favorite and most effective robots at past events. The audience and judges love noise, speed, originality, and carnage potential. Towering Inferno is an attempt to combine all of those qualities in a package unlike any other previously seen in a competition. I called it Towering Inferno, mostly because, at about 29" tall (not counting the extra few feet of hammers), it towers over the other bots. There was a push to finish Towering Inferno for The Learning Channel's Robotica, but I decided there wasn't enough time to finish & test, so I backed off & entered Mini Inferno instead, and it turned out to be a wise decision inded.

Towering Inferno was the feature of one segment on the Movies For Guys Who Like Movies Judge Dredd airing on the TBS Superstation. He slaughtered a slew of fruit, vegetables, stuffed animals, condiments & a non-candy-filled pinata.

I worked closely with robotics company Bell-Everman. Mike Everman was been incredibly helpful in fleshing out the design and giving me feedback on how to create this weird robot. His company's machine shop also made most of the custom pieces for me, while Andy Weinberg at UCSB and Warren Johnson at Paradise Machining cranked out a few more. I drew up all these parts on Pro/Engineer CAD software & the files were used to CNC the parts.

Towering Inferno & I made the cover of the 4/23/01 issue of Design News magazine. It was a fun photo shoot & a good article! Towering Inferno was also displayed at the UCSB Chancellor's fundraiser reception (swanky!).

Towering Inferno has been in 3 BattleBots events. In season 3.0, his 2-1 record put him in top 32 in the heavyweight class and he was in 3 short features on Comedy Central. In season 4.0, his disastrous fight against Mechavore was aired in its entirety. In season 5.0, he was knocked out in the prelim rounds.

SPECS: Towering Inferno has a radical design that's difficult to explain with just words. I created a motorized model from LEGO Technic components, just to see if the concept would work and then to check out the bot's dynamics & control, and it did indeed move and perform as envisioned. Check out the progression from early sketch to CAD model to near-finished bot. Note that I ditched the circular saws and went with blunt & pointy hammer tips--you'd be surprised how many vicious-looking hammers you can find on a casual stroll through Home Depot...

TECH DETAILS : Towering Inferno is made of: 2 fat motors, 2 radio receivers, 2 high-current 1-channel speed controllers, 6 custom wheel sections with molded-on urethane tread, 2 titanium whacking arms with hammer heads, 2 fat batteries, 1 long long long tube, 10 polycarbonate/aluminum panels, a whole lot of bearings, 2 chain & sprocket speed reductions, and a few more custom machined parts.

SPONSORS: Machine Arts did lots of slick CNC machining and some design work. Specialty Tool provided nuts, bolts, washers, chains, sprockets, bearings, & most of the other odds & ends needed to assemble the bot. PTC provided Pro/Engineer CAD software and a laptop computer for designing and assembling the complex parts. Hosting.com provides my web hosting. Russ Greene designed, fabricated, and maintained the sweet conic-section fenders.


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