September will see the fourth anniversary of the Antweight World Series - the premier event for antweight robots.
A lot has changed in the sport in those four years and RobotWars101.com thought we should mark the occasion by
finding out exactly what from those guys at the very top of the sport. Oliver Steeples was the first (and current)
World champion back in 1999. Peter Waller was World champ for WS3, 5, 7 and Robot Wars: Extreme, and Craig Danby was World champ WS4 and 6.
RW101: How do you feel the World Series has changed since you started?
Craig: Its more popular, for a start, and better organised.
Oliver: I built the second ever ant (Odyssey - Adam Clark's Toecutter was the first) and hosted the 1st World Series. This consisted
of 4 people and 6 ants. At WS7, there were about 30 people and 45 ants, I've sort of been here right from the start and apart
from the antweight craze getting bigger and more widespread not a lot has changed except for more dangerous weaponry and the
need for more stringent safety rules.
Peter: There are more entries and a bigger variety of designs; and the competitors seem to be getting younger...mind you so do the policemen!
RW101: Why do you think its been so dominated - or has it?
Craig: Yes it has I'm afraid to say I don't know why - just luck I reckon. It won't be the same unless Pete W wins again :-)
Peter: Lack of weapons on many and also lack of reliability but partly good fortune although Craig and I have won the last 5 we have lost
other events in between. Also having several ants helps.
Oliver: Whereas to build a heavyweight you are realistically looking at ?1000 and a car to move it, antweights can be built for under ?100
including the transmitter and can be carried in a small box - an ant can be built by a 12yr old. I think the only downside is the fact that
so far antweights have been a bit 'underground', meeting on the internet most of the time with a bit of publicity in local newspapers and a
small section on RW Extreme last year.
RW101: What do you think of some of the newer ants?
Craig: Pretty poor too be honest but there are a couple of good newcomers
Peter: I like some of the new faster ants but it means you use the weight needed for weapons.
Oliver: Its Scary! When I first started 150g was very hard to obtain but since then micro servo's and receivers are being used which allow very
nasty weaponry such as the rotating blades on Anticyclone and Combatant. Little Nipper with it's dual mouse traps is also very inventive and
effective and to be egotistical my own ant Anteater which expands from a 4" cube to a 8*6" crusher has to be seen to be believed.
Someone is always coming out with something better as we are now getting serious spinners, flippers, crushers with pneumatics and hydraulics
RW101: What do you think are the failings of the world series?
Oliver: Firstly, at a recent event, there was a serious injury so safety needs to be improved and the crowd kept at bay. Some of the organising
has been less than perfect in the past but having a proper transmitter control is tricky with rounds every 5 minutes. So far the events are held
at Student Unions, Schools and similar which has been a downside to a degree but it has been necessary due to the cost of hiring a hall.
Craig: Not very 'World' - more National. I think maybe more of an organisiation event for the future.
Peter: The competitions do tend to drop off after the main event and we don't get the tag teams and other matches. We also need some way of
determining by who and where events are organised.
RW101: What are the successes?
Craig: Its a great event full stop!! If it wasn't Mentorn wouldn't want it:-)
Peter: I like the informality of it.
Oliver: More inventive ants and bigger weaponry; the varied age range of antbuilders and how in 4 years it has gone from nothing to something
without big TV slots and no advertising.
RW101: What do you think are the advantanges of the world series over things like Robot Wars and Battlebots?
Craig: Not too Public more for real "anoraks" (if you excuse the expression).
Peter: The event is just for us and there is non of the waiting around for cameras or frequencies.
Oliver: The ability to build a fighting robot under ?100 that you can carry around to events and the fact that most damage can be fixed with
insulating tape. The pace of antweights is also a bonus, when I took part in RW you have a 5 minute round and 2hrs to prepare for it, by
contrast antweights have a 3 minute round and the last World Series took place with 45 ants in approx 3hrs so you have about 5 mins between
rounds. This pace is also shown in the event dates, for RW and Battlebots you have 1 event a year, this year there will be 3 Antweight World
Series and about 5 other events.
RW101: Where do you think the future of the world series lies - what is going to happen to it?
Peter: I think we need a little more planning without becoming to formal.
Oliver: Bigger more well organised events with halls hired and projector screens for the audience. There will always be the 'old timers'
such as myself and PeteC who were there from the beginning but at every event there are more and more people and it's becoming very hard
to remember names, faces and their ants now.
Craig: Grow and grow and Anto will win again one day:-)