How not to run a Robot Wars competition

Around the beginning of this year, I suggested to my coursemates that, since the deadline for entering the “real” robot wars had been and gone, we run our own competition, amongst ourselves

The plan was to hold a robot wars event tonight.

As stands, we have:

  • a venue
  • Radio equipment
  • batteries
  • someone to carry out tech inspection
  • Health and safety forms filled out
  • an arena
  • competitor robots

Those last two are a little crucial.

Basically, the primary issue with trying to run a robotics competition at a university, is university; It kind of takes up quite a bit of people’s time. Pick any day at random, and someone will either have a deadline, or will have a deadline soon. Most of the prospective competitors just didn’t have time to build a robot, whether or not they realised when they signed up. The people who were designing an arena didn’t have time to finish it, we didn’t have enough time to source materials, and didn’t have the time to build it. It’s really easy to under-estimate the amount of time it’ll take to do something, particularly when trying to organise it with other people. Even working alone’s not much better; I tried to design an entire robot in an evening, and kind of succeeded, if you consider 6AM to be the evening…

One of the other issues is democracy. When we started it up, we wanted to make sure the rules would be something that everyone would be happy with, so pretty much everything was put open to discussion. This is all fine and dandy, but tends to struggle a little with the whole “actually getting things done” aspect. There comes a point where you have to be definite; otherwise, things aren’t solid enough for people to actually start building robots.

So, we’re postponing. We’re still running it, but we’re going to give ourselves a little more time this time, and push it back to around February. With a bit of luck, that’ll give us the time to organise something decent, and everyone else to get robots built.

We hope.


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