Robot fights set to smack-down in Texas

Certainly it doesn't have the hype of a World Wrestling Federation event, but the metal-banging and gear-jamming RoboGames set for next month promise to at least have as much flamboyance - and way more noise.

Organizers call the event -- which features huge homemade robots with names like Original Sin, Pint Sized Chaos, Vladiator, Sewer Snake, Cornholio, The Defyer, Tetracide and Steel Reign burring and pounding each other into oblivion -- the "best parts of a monster truck rally, the thrill of NASCAR, and the evil genius of the maddest scientist infused with lashings of machine oil and garage-mechanic know-how."

Specifically the RoboGames Texas Cup set for October 18th and 19th at the second annual Austin Maker Faire features over 27 bots, weighing 30 to 340 pounds scrapping in featherweight, lightweight, middleweight, heavyweight, and super heavyweight divisions. With over 25 fights per day, audiences will be treated to all manner of robotic pugilism from giant pneumatic flippers, flame throwers and "spinning blades of death" to body slammers and nasty spikes.

The battles take place on a 40x40ft, 102,000lb rolled metal floor, surrounded by a $140, 000 worth of 2 layered bullet-proof, clear polycarbonate to protect the audience from flying pieces of robot.

"Its not uncommon for these bots to hit the floor or each other with 5,000 foot-pounds worth of pressure and the bullet-proof polycarb keeps the 40lb chunks of robot that sometimes fly off away from the audience," said David Calkins, president of ComBots which runs the RoboGames.

Calkins said the Texas Cup is one of about four events the group will put on across the country this year. The group held its RoboGames in San Francisco in May and expects to host events in Florida and Minnesota later in the year, though no dates have been set. The battles typically draw anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 attendees, depending on the size of the venue, Calkins said.

Winners of ComBots events get to revel on the glory of victory over worthy opponents as there are no cash prizes awarded. That may change one day if ComBots could become the NASCAR of the robot fighting world.

There have been other attempts to develop robot fighting into a national pastime. Robot Wars and the BattleBots TV shows among them, Calkins noted.

"We'd like to get the NASCAR type of sponsorships - if Nextel wants to sponsor us , tell them to give me a call anytime," Calkins said.

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