"From prehistoric times, it's not a bot, it's a terror-dactyle. From the Crush-taceous Period, it's Ghost Raptor!"
That was just one of BattleBots Ring Announcer Faruq Tauheed’s many fear-inducing introductions for Ghost Raptor in previous competitions.
I was lucky enough to get an up close look at Ghost Raptor by going behind-the-scenes with Team Ghostraptor for the BattleBots 2021 World Championship, which was held Aug. 23, 2021, through Sept. 4 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This year, Team Ghostraptor was led by Team Captain Chuck Pitzer, Staff Engineer at Fetch Robotics. Team members included Fashiontech Designer Anouk Wipprecht, Software Engineer Xo Wang, Mechanical Engineer Eric Diehr and Software Engineer Sabri Sansoy.
The pit area before the competition was full of energy as teams readied for safety inspections and interviews.
(I’d like to give a special thanks to Sabri for getting me into the venue and making sure I knew where to go.)
Chuck Pitzer, left, and Richard Doyle take a look at Ghost Raptor’s design.
Preparing for Battle
I spent some time with Chuck and got to ask a few questions about competing in BattleBots. I wasn’t surprised to learn that BattleBots teams regularly spend $25,000-$30,000 per season to compete. Sponsorship is a big part of the funding, and I’m proud that my company Onshape, a PTC Business, has stepped up to help them out this year.
I viewed the Ghost Raptor Onshape Document, complete with every configuration of the robot the team uses in competitions. Chuck tells me the Onshape model will be valuable to the team for verifying weights, part replacements and any adjustments needed after a battle.
Chuck was quick to mention the camaraderie between competitors. From sharing ideas to sharing spare parts, BattleBots teams are a close-knit community.
Before the championship began, I asked Chuck, “Who are your top competitors this year?”
“All of them,” he said without skipping a beat.
Team Ghostraptor used Onshape to design the inner workings of Ghost Raptor.
A Quick History: Ghost Raptor
Team Ghostraptor, or Team Raptor, has participated in BattleBot competitions since 1999, making the team one of the more well-known BattleBot competitors. The team claims 32 wins. The team developed lightweight robots W.L.O.W., Alpha Raptor, Beta Raptor, Gamma Raptor, and Carnage Raptor; heavyweight robot Tripulta Raptor; and middleweight robot Pack Raptors.
Ghost Raptor, classified as a heavyweight robot, made its first appearance in 2015 on season 1 of ABC’s BattleBots. The robot also competed in seasons 2 and 5, as well as BattleBots Bounty Hunters.
The best performances, according to the team's LinkedIn page, were with lightweights Alpha Raptor and Gamma Raptor, both reaching the finals, and with heavyweight Ghost Raptor, which reached the semifinals. How will Ghost Raptor fare this year?
Robot Combat: The Live Experience
In addition to my time with the Ghost Raptor team, I got to spend Saturday afternoon watching robots battle each other. These matches are pre-recorded for future telecasts, and several battles are filmed each taping day. While I cannot divulge any results, I can tell you it was awesome to see!
Watching BattleBots live gives you a real sense of the actual size of these monster machines, something that’s hard to tell when watching on television. The sounds are deafening and the crowd is on their feet chanting and cheering. It is quite a production, and so much fun to watch.
A closer look at Ghost Raptor.
Members of Team Ghostraptor
The more I learned about Team Ghostraptor, the more interested I became. I’m hoping to convince some of the team to join us at an Onshape User Group meeting or be interviewed on the Innovator’s Insider Podcast coming soon. There are more great stories to tell about these fine people.
(For instance, Anouk, a new team member, combines fashion design with engineering, robotics, science and interaction/user experience design.)
The information they shared and the hospitality they showed me during my visit was very much appreciated. I can’t wait to meet up with them again.
This season will air later in the year, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Stay tuned to Onshape for more on this experience and more! Get the latest by following us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.