Arena Terrain - Dune Bugs

Evening all. As well as (at some point) organising some standard antweight events at the Hackspace in Nottingham I’m toying with the idea of a parallel competition with a sand-filled arena, just to try something different out.

I’ve heard a few comments in podcasts and such of late on the subject of adding terrain to combat robotics; it has seemed to me like a good way to change the game without changing the rules (this is certainly my experience in tabletop wargames). Filling the arena uniformly with sand is a relatively clean, maintenance-free, fireproof and cheap way to add a completely novel playing surface, with the advantage of being inherently uniform (unlike adding discrete features, which is interesting in its own way but then creates a whole other game around where to put different bits of terrain).

Now I’d like to claim some lofty goals like diversifying in the current competitive metagame or whatever but ultimately I think I looked at the chunky 44mm Ant wheels and fancied building an equally chunky Mad Max war buggy to match. With a new weight class comes the old “you-can’t-run-the-event-if-no-one-has-a-robot-but-no-one-wants-to-build-a-robot-until-there’s-an-event” paradox, so initially I thought making this an alternative 150g class would work, but given that making a 150g robot is pretty challenging when you aren’t also faced with needing 4wd and IP65 rating, I’m wondering if an alternative might be a 300g limit (and maybe plastic weapons) - this would give a bit more weight for bespoke designs but would also allow clusters designed to regular Bants/Ants rules, making it less of a sunk cost.

A couple of folks at Nottinghack are also keen but I’d really like to see what the general consensus is on the idea before going too far down this road, so if you have any thoughts then please do drop them in here.

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Terrain bots are always thrown around as a cool idea and as far as I know no one has properly given them a go, so I really welcome that! Ground game is getting more intense than ever - seeing lots of long metal barbed forks showing up even at antweight now makes me think this is a good time to give this a bash!

I expect bits of robot will become part of the floor otherwise you’ll be vacuuming lots of sand? Hadn’t occurred to me 4WD is basically a requirement and more weight is probably needed!

This may be one of those good arenas to test out at RoboNerd where people like to build stuff to try out (there’s been boat bots before)

Separate question - for normal ants are Nottinghack following FRA (no cube), AWS (cube) or some custom variant I want to add you guys to our UK ant rules list!

I did wonder about debris in the sand yeah! I guess metal will sink straight to the bottom with a good shake, might have to run it through a sieve to get bigger bits of plastic out though!

Did the battleboats thing actually happen at RoboNerd? I love the idea but my dad has a talent for booking family holidays in late summer and I’ve never managed to get to a single RN yet.

We haven’t formalised the rules at Nottinghack yet but hopefully this weekend we’ll get the arena enclosure sorted, which is also a good time to settle on a ruleset. I will let you know on that!

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There is some footage of the BattleBoats event at RoboNerd 2019 on YouTube

There may be more footage out there in various compilation videos.

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