Chuck Pitzer is the captain of the team and has been involved with BattleBots since the early days – the year 2000 was Chuck’s first BattleBot entry. However, he did point out that the roots of the BattleBot design extend further back to Robot Wars (1994 in the San Francisco area) and Robot Fighting League.
Since those early days, those relatively underground movements became global phenomenons with mainstream TV audiences in all corners of the earth. Chuck’s comment when we saw the emergence of BattleBots sums it up: “I had to be a part of it.”
I was introduced to the other members of Team Ghostraptor and could see an incredible opportunity to work with a highly-skilled, creative and motivated bunch.
Sabri is the AI/ML/Computer Vision expert and goes back a long way with Chuck, but is a relative newcomer on the Ghost Raptor team. I suspect his areas of expertise will manifest in future evolutions of the robot.
The newest team member is Anouk Wipprecht who brings extensive experience with microcontrollers, wearable technology, computational geometry, human-computer interaction, and fashion. Her designs and collaborations with major names such as Audi, Swarovski, Adidas amongst many others are amazing. Bringing in her BattleBot design ideas was integral.
During their podcast, all of the team mentioned that one of the highlights of the season has been the collaboration, the sharing of perspectives, and the culture at the heart of the competition. Whilst trying to inflict maximum damage on their opponents, the teams are all highly supportive of each other, helping out with repairs or tools as needed.
Building a BattleBot Using Onshape’s CAD Software
My first task was getting the existing BattleBot design, which has been evolving for 12 years, into Onshape, then assessing what might be possible to do for the short term. In most real-world situations like this, it is necessary to handle multiple sources of original CAD geometry. With Onshape’s built-in import tools, along with the direct edit capability to manipulate and modify shapes, I was able to quickly bring the design up to date and prepare it for new concepts (and weapons!)
One of the keys, according to the team, is the ability to adapt – to make a modular robot that can be quickly reconfigured between rounds in a competition. Configurations happen to be one of the key competitive differentiators for Onshape, too, so that was a great place to start.
I helped rebuild the robot with extreme configurability in mind so that armour choices, weapons, and other chassis options could be quickly and easily defined and verified. I also noted that many of the components were standard items that many robot builders use – indeed Onshape’s design community both professional and educational have compiled easily accessible and shareable component libraries, so I was able to benefit from this community effort and bring the model to life.