We are the creators of the original “BattleBots” franchise, Trey Roski and Greg Munson - and "BattleBots" is now BACK on ABC! Ask us anything!
We are Trey and Greg the creators of BattleBots—The hit TV show and premier sport of robot combat. The new incarnation of BattleBots will debut on ABC this Sunday, June 21 at 9|8c, and we are here to answer your questions now with Victoria from reddit. So let’s do it - The Box is locked, the lights are on, it’s AMA time!
This is us on the inter webs:
- BattleBots ABC Twitter page: https://twitter.com/BattleBotsABC
- BattleBots ABC Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BattleBotsABC
Ready in 3…2…1…
Fight Robots Fight!
EDIT: We'd like to thank everyone for joining us on the AMA. We had a great time.
And enjoyed a lot of the thoughtful, intelligent questions everyone asked. And we're hoping you all tune in, Sunday, June 21st, ABC, 9 pm / 8 central time.
GREG: One simple rule - you have to have a robust, active weapons system.
You cannot just be a "pusher bot."
TREY: And we had a new raisers to the arena floor - so there are pistons that come out of the arena floor to stop the wedges. So we really made an effort to mix it up. And you'll see more of that in season 2,3 and beyond.
GREG: Like we said before, we are going to keep perfecting the rules and arena to minimize the dominance of any single kind of robot - whether it be a wedge, a spinner, or something new that comes around.
Oh man, that's awesome. I loved that show SO much and it's cool to be able to introduce my kids to it as well.
If memory serves, the first one I saw was some sort of crawling monster-looking thing from a Lucas Arts guy and it was astounding.
Might be wrong on the details, but I remember being blown away.
GREG: Yes, that robot was called "Mechadon." Built by Mark Setrakian. Mark not only got Trey and I into robotic sports to begin with, he built a very special robot for the new show that holds the Giant Nut trophy.
I just wanted to thank you guys for the inspiration all those years ago. I started watching Battlebots as a little kid, and I'm going into my senior year of engineering school now. While I had inclinations towards machines when I was even younger (planes, trains, and automobiles), it was the first thing that made me say "I want to do that". And hopefully, my senior project will be building my very own robot. Any tips for a new builder?
GREG: Yes, practice driving. It's one thing to design and build an awesome robot. But it's an entirely different thing to drive it, and drive it with gusto and aggression. You have to spend as much time practicing as you did building. And we'll be looking forward to seeing you in a future competition.
What was Jamie Hyneman like back then? Pissed that Blendo couldn't compete as successfully?
GREG: Jamie was the same back then as he is now!
TREY: He's the one guy in the world that hasn't changed. We love him for it. His robot, "Blendo," was the reason we had to build BattleBox. That is the arena the robots fight in. It is a bomb-proof space that contains every bit of shrapnel that these robots can put out. Jamie and Adam's robot was so dangerous the arena could not handle it back in the old days.
are there any weapons or techniques you guys want to see but haven't been used? And what are you most excited for the audience to see
GREG: We recently started to allow untethered projectiles. We have to be really careful with that, because we don't want projectiles to pierce the lexan barrier that protects the audience - but that said, it would be awesome to see somebody do something REALLY interesting, cool, and destructive with projectiles. Haven't seen that yet. And we are waiting!
TREY: We allow flying weapons, and flying robots now. So one of the ideas that we heard about was a drone with a flamethrower. It could also be a drone with a projectile-launcher of some sort - that sounds pretty cool to me. But the idea of flying robots competing - even if they're multi-bots - to the untrained person, it's multiple robots for your one robot, so there'd be 2,3,4 robots on your team, fighting - technically you could have as many drones as you want and one main robot, or something like that. That sounds very exciting to me. I like seeing new ideas, and I think the audience likes to see new ideas. With new ideas, come new strategies.
GREG: I want the audience to see new means of locomotion. You see a lot of wheeled robots, not a lot of walking robots, and no flying robots. And as this sport grows into the future, that's the kind of direction we'd like to take things into.
GREG: We've thought of a lot of ways to classify the sport. We used to have multiple weight classes. But for the new incarnation on ABC, we wanted to simplify things, and create one epic tournament, leading to a single champion at the end. That said, in the future, will we tweak things, will we add things, will we start to devise new categories? It's a definite possibility, but we'll need to see how the sport evolves.
TREY: And in the new show, there are two "best of show" awards - $25,000 each - that you don't have to win one fight to receive.
Will Biohazard make a comeback? And will anyone dethrone them?
GREG: Interesting story. While we were filming this latest 6 episodes for the ABC show, I would get on Facebook, and I'm friends with Carlo on Facebook, and I would see these happy little family photos from some trip he's taking in the Bahamas or something like that. And I was thinking the same thing that /u/HomeJosey is thinking - which is why aren't you here?! We want you back!
So I think when Carlos sees the new series, he is going to get the itch that all robot builders get. And that is that they have to be a part of this. So everyone on reddit, collectively start chanting Biohazard! Biohazard! Biohazard!
TREY: He's not going to do very well against the new robots in the new arenas. I think he'd be lucky to win one fight.
What measures have you taken to ensure that the most boring robots don't always win?I really was intrigued with Battlebots when it first aired but it lost all appeal to me when I realized that the robot shaped like a wedge won every battle. Any weapon a robot had ended up typically being a handicap.
GREG: Wait until you see "Tombstone." It's one of the robots in the new show.
How do you think the overall improvement in technology over the past 10 years is going to affect the new show? What kinds of technological improvements will we see that we didn't in the original series?
GREG: One of the biggest improvements - it doesn't sound very sexy, but it's a HUGE improvement - is battery technology. Back in the day, you might have to have spent 30-40 pounds of your weight allowance on a big giant lead acid car battery. But now, with Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer technologies, you can pack much more punch in a much smaller package. Leaving TONS of extra weight for better weapons, stronger armor, modular weapons, and an array of destructive awesomeness.
TREY: Also, in general, motors have gotten better. Metals are more accessible - you can actually buy some forms of Titanium that 20 years ago was impossible to get for most people, and now you can go online and find it at a somewhat reasonable price. Computers, servos, the technology has gotten incredible that didn't exist 10 years ago. And it's gotten to a price where most people can afford it.
What's your favorite robot from the new series? And none of that "We like every robot" nonsense. YOU MUST CHOOSE ONLY ONE TRUE LOVE!
GREG: Ok, I'll bite. My favorite robot is "Bronco." A pneumatic lifting robot that can launch 300 pounds 8 feet in the air.
TREY: I have 2 favorites. "Warhead" and "Warrior Clan." Those are my votes. I also was a big fan of a first-time competitor's robot. Her name was Zoey. And she stepped out of the box. She made something that was, engineering-wise, an incredible, surreal spectacle and as an engineer, it was unbelievable. I was very proud to have her compete, and I look forward to seeing what she's going to do in the future.
GREG: While Bronco was my favorite, the array of robots in the new series is really spectacular. The builders have totally stepped up, the technology's better, the robots are way more powerful & destructive than they used to be, and the fights are incredible. There are at least 3-4 fights in the series that are the best in BattleBots history.
TREY: Take out "BattleBots," it's just history. To me, too, some of the robots from the past that people will remember that are upgraded, and modified, and much better - there's a little bit of the past brought back, and a LOT new.
Hello! Longtime fan/aspiring builder here.
If your average, nearly broke 20-something were to go about building a battlebot fit for competition in this day and age, how would they go about funding it?
GREG: We do allow approved sponsorships, and we're hoping as the show grows, that sponsorship opportunities will grow along with it. If and when season 2 is announced, guidelines for sponsorship will be presented as well.
Do you think you'll include some limited classes? I ask because in the unlimited classes, it always seemed like a few types of robots always won. I'd like to see some limited classes that made it more about operator skill than engineering or "tricks."
TREY: We're slowly fixing the problem that we saw in the past events. And we agree.
GREG: We're fully aware that there's a wedge-problem, there's a spinner-problem, and things need to be more balanced, and doors need to be opened for cooler, more interesting designs. So we are forever tweaking the arena and the rulebook to make that happen.
Can you explain more about the process/journey it took to get Battlebots back on the air? I remember the rumblings years ago and planned shows on I think CBS Sports(?) that never really took off. Also, did you ever think that you wouldn't get back on TV?
GREG: We'd always had faith we'd get back on TV. And yes, there were many stops and starts along the way. CBS College Sports was one of those. And so was a defunct deal with the Discovery Channel, and James Cameron, and Mark Burnett. But again, that's all a blessing in disguise. Because it led us to WhaleRock and ABC and Disney, the happiest place on earth!
But seriously, this is a fantastic home for the sport. They take it seriously.
TREY: It's the only right home. It's the dream home for us. There's no place we would rather be. And they're treating us unbelievably well.
GREG: We've got an office with our names on it!
TREY: They are letting us do it right. And there's nothing but positive feedback from everybody who's seen the show. And everybody's really happy. All we need now is people to watch it.
If anybody knows any hackers - hack the Nielsen Ratings and make us the #1 show.
GREG: If anyone can do it, it's reddit!
Thank you for doing this! Any word on if you will have a Battlebots Store? Shirts? Toys?
Please, take my money. I loved this show growing up, I hope it lasts a long time!
GREG: We will get some vintage swag up on our website very soon.
Are there any cool behind the scenes stories from the original show you want to share? Any feuds/rivalries between the contestants?
TREY: It's a very passive-aggressive group. It's interesting, because it's not physical violence. And when you take the physical out of violence, you can be friends. So we have very strong mental rivalries, but we can all go get a beer afterwards, and be best buds, and talk about how we're going to beat them the next time. And most importantly - as much as you have another robot, or want to win, you want to make sure that their robot is in perfect condition. So you help them, however you can. If you can loan them a speed controller or a motor or something that's not working on their robot, and THEN beat them - I want them to say "You beat me, end of story." I don't want a contestant coming back to me and saying "You beat me because I couldn't get my gas motor started." I want to win hands down.
How would you feel about hosting a battlebots event on an aircraft carrier, container ship, or perhaps even a decommissioned oil rig? BOAT BOAT BOAT BOAT!
GREG: Hello MegaBots. You know we love that idea - we just need a Boat load of cash to do it
Hi Greg and Trey! What makes the abc version of the show different than the original? Also how long does it take for a robot to be built?
GREG: It varies. These folks in the new season had literally 5 weeks to build new robots, or upgrade old robots. Which is an insane undertaking. It's a Herculean effort to build a combat robot that quickly. And the builders pulled it off. That said, the time we'd like everyone to have is a good 6-9 months to really sink their teeth, design something awesome, build it, tweak it, perfect it, and then the most important thing - Practice driving over and over again. And then come and fight it.
What was the biggest obstacle in getting this project done?
TREY: The hardest obstacle in probably getting any television show is dealing with the network and getting the network to greenlight, their representative to understand what your vision is. And even though we had a very successful show when we were on Comedy Central, them understanding the evolution of the show, and how it was going to change and the way it should be done (as opposed to the way it was initially done), and getting them to do it correctly - it's a different world out here in Hollywood. And there's a lot of know-it-alls. And most importantly, I think, is finding the right tone. We could have given it away almost immediately after we were off the air on Comedy Central. Would that have been the smart thing to do? No. It's important that you stick in there for the right tone, the right people, to let us do our dream correctly. And I say that very openly - it's not only Greg and my dream, but the contestants. You have to remember - we started as contestants. And always looked after the contestants as we would want to be looked after, if we were in their shoes.
GREG: We consider BattleBots a true sport first, and a TV show second. So finding the right home with a production company and a broadcaster that agrees with that has been the biggest challenge. The good news is WhaleRock and ABC agree with us. And the show is looking awesome. We're super-excited for the premiere this Sunday.
Do you think the popularity of quadcopters/drones will eventually lead to an aerial combat version of BattleBots?
GREG: Absolutely!! That concept is so exciting to us, and the arena is ready for it, audiences are ready for it, and any bot-builders out there, we say bring it on!
TREY: We thought, you know, little things that go boom dropping from drones and aerial vehicles on other robots sounds pretty cool to me.
GREG: We've allowed flamethrowers this go-around, but how cool would it be to have a drone that drops incendiary devices on its wheeled opponents on the ground?
What about bonuses where you get to call in a airstrike?
GREG: Well, imagine this - with drone technology, you could have drone swarms, flying in formation, dropping those incendiary devices in sequence, which would be even more awesome than a single drone.
TREY: Now we just need someone to do it!
So does that mean you'll modify the rules to allow incendiary devices?
TREY: Yes, we did.
GREG: We've done that, yes.
Any plans to offer DVds of the unaired fights?
TREY: We'll work on it. I'm working on it.
are you confident that you will get a season 2? The last shows that were in your place on abc, (whodunnit? The quest, etc etc ) only got one season each before they were canceled. Do you see yourselves as one of those shows? (Cult reality TV that were enjoyed by critics but were canned due to lack of ratings and exec changes.) or do you see yourself as the show( or shows. Cause celeb family feud) that broke the summer "curse"? (Or trend. I don't want to say curse but this has happened for the past few years.)
TREY: It's up to the people at this point.
It's up to you.
We have done what we can do.
We have got it on the best network. We've done the best job we could. And now it's up to the world to watch it.
We can only do so much.
GREG: We're good at breaking curses.
Thanks, I'll support u guys.
But pls dont jinx it.
I counted at least 5 flamethrowers in the preview. Would you let just anyone enter BB with a flamethrower or did they all get preapproval?
GREG: All flamethrowers were tested by the Vallejo Fire Marshall. In fact, that shot you see in the promo of the yellow-wheeled robot outside on a truck dolly is from the actual test when the Fire Marshall was present.
Will Toro be back, or a new version of Toro? Was always a fan favorite!
GREG: Up in the thread, I mentioned what my favorite robot was... wink wink.
A lot of the promos and commercials I've been seeing for the new series seem to be ignoring the fact that there was an original of this show many years ago. It's being promoted as the 'new sport of the future', or something to this affect— meanwhile the original premiered almost 15 years ago and was a hit that many people knew and loved. Why is this, and how does it make you feel that it is being promoted this way?
GREG: I'm not worried about that at all. That was just a soundbite issue with the editors making the promos, and nothing intentional. When you see the show, this Sunday on ABC, they pay respectful homage to the old series on Comedy Central.
Are the robots or roboteers going to be the main focus in the new Battlebots? Because I would be really turned off of the show if half of the show is just a documentary on the builders.
GREG: There's plenty of fights in the new show. And you will get your fill of awesome robot combat. But we do highlight the builders with short n' sweet packages on who they are, what makes the tick, and how they've come up with their awesome designs. So in the end, it's all very relevant to the fight. But we don't swap the fighting for documentary.
TIL this is back! Woo hoo!
Will you be reaching out to any STEM organizations who use robotics to get students pumped on careers in technology etc?
GREG: Absolutely. One interesting fact in the new show is it's a blend of veteran competitors and kids who have now grown up, and come through the ranks of the BattleBots high school / college program. Which was a STEM-focused program that we've had for the last...since 2002...is that 13 years?
TREY: And any STEM programs that you know of - please have 'em email us, we'd love to work with them. We will also be reaching out to STEM groups we know of, and already are. We are working with VEX robotics, and shortly we are going to be reaching out to FIRST robotics...
GREG: And we like to call it STEAM, because we agree with Adam Savage that it needs to have the "A" for Art.
Will you be able to have an "open tournament" or just an "open call" for future seasons?
By that I mean, will you ever return to the old model where anyone could sign up and compete, or will you still require people to submit their idea, go through an application, and then be selected?
Either way, THANK YOU for bringing it back. It's entertaining, and it's important for our culture to recognize how bad ass it is to be a smart and hardworking person.
GREG: For future tournaments, we are considering both models. Both the open model, and the application model. And we'll make a determination what is the best road for future seasons.
TREY: Our dream is to have an open tournament, and from that, select the best robots for the TV show.
I remeber you guys built robots back in the day, championship winner if I recall. Do you ever think about getting back into building?
TREY: Yes! We do. And...we might give a few free t-shirts out to people who tell us when they see the original La Machine Easter Egg in the new series. Comment on here for a chance to win: https://www.facebook.com/battlebots?fref=ts
What would you do to a competitor that shielded his/her robots electronics and used an small EMP to win?
Is that cheating or innovative?
GREG: That is not allowed in the rules. Because it's a one-trick pony easy win, and not visually exciting for an audience to see.
TREY: We wouldn't be able to film it either, because it would shut down the cameras, and the lights.
Who did you think would win/do well prior to the competition, but after you knew the roster?
Were there any robots in particular that surprised you, either from performance or design?
Were you expecting every other question to be about wedges when you started this AMA?
What does it feel like to have the design you pioneered with La Machine be so disliked by common viewers, to the extent you have felt the need to eliminate it?
Favorite robots that never appeared on a TV series, either from not being featured or only appearing after the cameras left the sport?
How did you select the matches? Did a computer randomly select who would fight who in the first round, or was it done by hand?
GREG: Trey put his money on "Warhead." And I put my money on "Icewave."
GREG: Yes, many. One was a very interesting walking robot. You'll have to tune in to see the rest.
GREG: A little bit.
TREY: Considering we were the first wedge. We were "La Machine," the very first wedge EVER.
TREY: We agree completely.
GREG: "La Machine" back in 1995 was a crowdpleaser. And that was not because of the wedge. That was because of Trey's driving. So even a boring bot can give an exciting performance if it's driven spectacularly. But that said... no more wedges.
TREY: Nobody hates wedges more than us.
GREG: I would say a robot called "Beta." This poor robot looks amazing, a giant hammer that when they tested it, literally destroyed our BattleBox arena floor. But unfortunately, it's never been able to get into competition because of numerous flameouts and problems.
TREY: "Atlas" and "Axis."
GREG: We had a selection committee made up of Trey and I and former Bot-builders. And we tried to make the most interesting / fair match-ups for the initial round. But after that, everything was seeded based on performance.
So Beta was once again unable to compete? I saw it on the preview from Tested and was looking forward to finally seeing it in action. I guess that explains why I haven't seen it in any commercials. Well, there's (hopefully) next season at least.
GREG: We want Beta in the Box... the builder of Beta, Grant, had a baby right when the filming of the show took place, so he was unable to come to the tournament. And that most likely contributed to the robot not being able to perform, although his team tried valiantly to get it to work.
What was the reaction of some of the original robot creators whe the show was being brought back?
Were alot of the old designers enthusiastic? Will we see old faces and new versions of some of the old favorites? Like anklebiter and such.
TREY: There's definitely some old that is new, again.
GREG: The reaction was off-the-charts. All the old builders wanted to come back in. If we're lucky enough to have a season 2, all of them will be submitting applications. You'll see a lot of old faces in the new show. You'll see a lot of new faces as well.
Did any features or strategies of the robots built this season take you by surprise? Anything really unexpected?
TREY: Yes. We can't tell you. But there are definitely some surprises.
GREG: There was one robot that used centrifugal force to walk. It's like the last scene in INCEPTION, with the top.
TREY: We can't tell you what happens. There's some ingenious stuff.
I still have the battery operated models from the first time. Are we going to get new models we can assemble and use?
GREG: Yes. We are actively pursuing licensing deals with toy manufacturers, video game developers, etc. But it all depends on how popular the show is. So again, tell your friends, and watch it like crazy. Because only success is going to bring things like toys, video games, etc.
Battlebots was my childhood obsession and I'm so excited it's returning, so thank you for that! It's truly the greatest competition I can think of, it involves ingenuity, creativity, and talent and is family friendly combat that gets kids interested in robotics and engineering.
Wasn't prepared to see this AMA today so my question isn't the most exciting one, but what would you say the biggest difference between this new Battlebots and the older seasons is?
TREY: You get to see the behind-the-scenes! You get to see the reality of the contestants, and who they really are. And you get to see the build, and the breakdown, of the 'bot. Comedy Central, in the old days, you never saw The Pit. All the contestants were "comic schtick" - they made up scenarios that were funny about the contestants. NONE of that happens on ABC. You get to know the real contestants. The real heroes. And you get to see their robots, and them fixing their robots, that you never saw before.
GREG: It's a real competition sports show this time around. It's not a comedy show wrapped in the guise of a sports show.
TREY: In the old days at Comedy Central, the fights were real, but the packaging wasn't. And now it's all real.
I loved the original BattleBots and i am super excited for the new season. I understand that this season is more of a trial to see if ABC want to continue the series. Assuming it is approved for future seasons will there be some kind of application processes to allow everyday people to compete?
GREG: Yes, there will be. We were in a time crunch for season 1, so we opened the door just a little bit to competitors we knew could build a really great robot in a short time frame. But if we get a season 2, we will open that door wide open to allow everyone to submit an application to be on the show.
TREY: Like any television show, anything could be canceled at any minute, anytime. And they might decide to air the first episode, and cancel it right afterwards. It really takes people watching the show. It takes eyeballs. It takes social media to tell people to turn on their TV, and to watch the show. And there's little secrets to watching the show that help out. One of them that helps is watching the commercials. That helps our ratings. AND recording the show, if you can, on your DirecTV or Dish Network or DVR, and watching it within the first 3 days - we get bonus points for that. This is very important for the show to be watched. It's all about ratings, eyeballs, and the more people that care about it, the better the chances for us to survive and the future of the show to be able to go the places we want to see it go. There's nothing like it out there. There never has been. And it's so important to the future to have this show, this outlet for engineers, to make heroes out of smart people.
I'm a huge fan of the show and excited to see its back. I set up @battlebotnation on twitter and own some very large social media profiles. I can help get the word out if that's something that interests you
GREG: Amplify, amplify, amplify! Do everything you can to get the word out! We love it all!
Do you have any plans for toys of the neew bots?
GREG: We had a great toy run with licensors during the Comedy Central days. And we hope, with the new incarnation of the show, that is only bigger and better than it was 12 years ago.
Hey guys! What's the biggest surprise/upset you remember from all your time doing the show?
TREY: Team Whyachi - a robot that they came, they were definitely going to win the entire event, and they did a fight calculation modification the second before the fight started, and within less than a second, when the event / fight started, they self-destructed. Exploded. And there wasn't much left. A close to 300 pound robot, there was nothing larger than the size of a silver dollar.
And they were the favorites to win.
GREG: My favorite surprise was actually a non-televised BattleBots even that we did - I'm forgetting, I think it was Minnesota. And it was a robot by Donald Hudson against the most feared, full-body spinner named MegaByte. Everyone thought Donald was going to lose, but he disappeared for an hour before the fight, came back, had a moving blanket over his robot so no one could see the secret modification he made, and when he unveiled his update in the arena... he had covered his robot in grease.
So MegaByte could never get a byte on Donald's robot, and Donald won. It was awesome.
Is there any chance, with the new interest, of the release of previous competitions on DVD? I managed one official tape when I was at Treasure Island in May of 2001, but there wasn't much available then. Would be especially nice to have to show my kid where her dad and I met. =p
TREY: Call me. I'll get it for you.
Wait so there like bots.....that battle right? Just to clear up any confusion.
GREG: No, they're goats!
Of course they are robots that battle.
I loved Battlebots initially but it devolved into which robot wedge would win and anything else was pretty much a guaranteed loss.
What did you guys do differently this time to keep the battles fresh?
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