abandon all hope ye robots who enter


 Dr. Inferno

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  • Designed & built Fall 1997-Summer 1999
  • 3rd place in BotBash 1999, competed in BattleBots 1999
  • Easily-customizable weapons and cuteness
  • Displayed at LEGO booth at E3 1999
  • Shown at Burning Man 1999
  • Status: retired from service

[photo by Jessica Lehrbaum]

[photo by Arizona Republic]

STORY: Dr. Inferno was created in 1997 for the 25lb weight class of Robot Wars and Robotica (both of which were subsequently canceled). In lieu of these events, he debuted at the first Society of Robotic Combat (SORC) meeting. He was videotaped for a French television program and a picture of Dr. Inferno beating up a LEGO robot made it onto the LEGO Mindstorms RoboTour '98 web page journal. He underwent revisions and upgrades in 1998 and 1999 and was on display at the front of the LEGO booth at the 1999 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Dr. Inferno made his combat debut at BotBash 1999, where he won the sumo portion of the competition and earned the 3rd place trophy in the 12.5kg (27.5lb) weight class, despite weighing 10lb under the allowed limit. He was also awarded the "most innovative" prize by the judges and appeared in the Arizona Republic newspaper. The doctor teamed up with Phil Putman's Air Burial robot at BattleBots in the Summer of 1999. A brief video clip of him also appears in a promotional video for the BattleBots 1999 event. ZDTV broadcast BattleBots live on the internet--they also picked Dr. Inferno as a serious contender in his weight class. Obviously, that journalist didn't know what he was talking about. At BattleBots, he got shredded spectacularly, just as planned. Mission accomplished. Dr. Inferno was on display to entertain the inhabitants of Burning Man in September 1999. (see a Dr. Inferno driveway scuffle)

SPECS: Dr. Inferno started life as a Tomy Omnibot toy that I found at a swap meet for $40. Even though this programmable robot butler worked perfectly, I just wasn't fascinated with a robot that would bring me my morning coffee, but I saw potential in him as an adorable combat robot. The 3 major portions of this Jekyl-to-Hyde transformation involved gutting his computer electronics, replacing his cup-holder arms with cordless power drills (whose chucks could hold a variety of weapons), and putting in a beefier drivetrain (with motors supplied by Coolrobots). The final touch was the addition of metal skirts around his base that rode flush to the ground and let him scoop up other robots.

TECH DETAILS : Dr. Inferno was a very simple robot, built to please & to suffer an impressive death at the hand of another robot. His drivetrain was 2 automobile power window motors bolted to a carbon fiber composite panel and driving a pair of custom-made plastic wheels with vacuum cleaner belts epoxied on for traction. A Powersonic 12V 2Ah gel cell battery powered the drivetrain through a Vantec RDFR22 speed controller. The white plastic robot body, gutted of its electronics, was screwed to the base, and a pair of Craftsman 6V cordless power drills were hose-clamped to the body. The drills were controlled by a pair of RAM air switches, with LEDs in his eyes hooked up to light up when the drills were spinning. 3 hinged aluminum flaps were bolted around the sides & back to act as scoops.

SPONSORS: Shop facilities made available by UCSB Mechanical & Environmental Engineering. Some electronics and tools donated by Mouser Electronics. Drive motors donated by Coolrobots.

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All content © Jason Dante Bardis and the Infernolab, 1999-2016