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What have the Romans ever given us?

T here are a number of robots that grab the attention of the viewers as the third series progresses to its conclusion: Panic Attack, Hypnodisc, Chaos II. In show X (appropriately enough) a robot fell into that category. The robot was Centurion - driven by David, built by Ray and designed by Matt. RW101 caught up with them during the post-war breathers.

C enturion has been a well known robot on the charity scene since not long after the Second Wars. With its eye-catching design and impressive axe and lifters, this was always one heavyweight to be aware of. Having a driver who doesn't get too involved in the design and build has advantages according to Ray Tait:

" David does the driving and has nothing to do with build or design so he has no inhibitions in terms of getting it scratched up and damaged!" said team captain Ray. "Matt does the design work, cosmetic stuff and assists with building." And the teamwork pays off. Centurion is powered by two Bosch GPA 750 watt motors off 4QD 150amp controllers. This gives it a very useful 20mph top end. The axe and lifters are powered by nitrogen. pneumatics and will certainly do a bit more than just waggle gently in battle!

I t's not all plain sailing though for the lads from Essex. "The day before we were due to go on we noticed that Centurion, after months of fine tuning and rebuilding, was suddenly steering erratically. The problem was a burnt out pot which was controlling the drive. You tend to find that when you really need something everyone is sold out. We got a cheap set in the end which got us out of trouble. Also in the first fight we lost control of our forks and the rear lift that sends the robot into a dive. Could have been a weak signal as several sweeps were done of the arena and the entire spectrum was clear." And the weather? "It rained constantly and it was no fun at all if you had to decant gas as the bottles were outside."

Centurion's departure from the show was sadly due to drive failure. "The main lesson is you must protect your drive, be it chains, tracks or legs." They have more advice for potential builders too. "Build the robot that you want to build, not necessarily the robot that you think will win. I think you can go too far down the ciche road and labour the point though." But there are practical things to think on during filming: "We will also bring chairs and something to read next time as it can be a bit like a hospital waiting area."

The team are great fans of the show though and have their own views on it. When asked what they would improve, they had plenty to say. "A lot went wrong during filming that was largely outside the control of the BBC and Mentorn. I think it would be fare to say that the Third Series is a shadow of the show that was planned. I do think however that the viewing figures speak for themselves and with an extra million viewers a show, Robot Wars is more popular than ever. Although the boring fights fuel the calls to re-introduced the games into the main event, I do feel they are best left as separate trials. A lot of the shows' appeal is down to the destruction and havoc caused by the House Robots and competitors. The show needs stronger competitors and a larger arena I think. With stronger competitors comes more action and less need for the pit which has spoilt a lot of this years fights. I think that the fights are often too conveyer-belt and it would help with the suspense to have footage of the robots being set up in the arena. There is a lot of showmanship and intimidation tactics that go on at this point in a battle;-)"

The guys did enjoy their experience of the show though. "Strangely after we lost and Chris Reynolds & the HR (house robot) guys came up to us, genuinely gutted that we went out in the manner that we did. In fact we started having a conversation on stage which really annoyed the floor manager! It was nice to get compliments from the enemy! The fantastic lunches were good too." But what of their favorite robots? Ray: "That’s a tough one…Rather like Dead Metal, Shunt and Matilda. The competitors that we like are: Sump Thing, Judge Mech, The piggy one(Can't remember the name), Razer, X-terminator, Killerhurtz, Panic Attack, Bone and Panda!…" (*flattery gets you everywhere! - RW101*)

The teams plans for the future are pretty ambitious. " We will be giving Centurion another run in Robot Wars but will make a number of improvements to the weapons and drive. Up-ing the pneumatic flow rate and giving the axe more of an angle to pivot on are cheap and simple ways of increasing axe force. With the forks I think we will need to increase the lift height. We are at the ideas stage again so are not ruling anything out, it all depends on time and money. Rather like the idea of going for a multi-bot entry. Will have a look at the weight situation I think. The team will stay the same." They have also been heavily involved in the recent competition Technogames in the millenium Dome and have a long term project in the form of T-Rex - a highly ambitious two-legged walker. "T-Rex is a bit of an ongoing passion (read wish) project that Matt is designing. We have penciled it in for S5 and 6 or whatever programme wants it. Something we don't want to cobble together and regret later I supose;) We are doing a 6'2" tall pneumatic (what else!) skeletal rope climber for Technogames 2000! Its unlikely that we will even see it working until the cameras are on us which is a worry!"
 
RW101 would like to thank Ray and Matt Tait for their time and contributions .

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