Crushtacean was a robot that competed in Series 5-7 and Series 9 of Robot Wars, as well as the second series of Robot Wars Extreme. It reached the Heat Final in Series 5, losing to Wheely Big Cheese, but failed to reach that stage afterwards, as it fell in the second round in Series 6 and the first round in Series 7 and Series 9. It also competed in the second series of Dutch Robot Wars under the name Krab-Bot, and reached the Grand Final before losing to Philipper 2 there, and represented South Africa in The Third World Championship, finishing third.

Team Crushtacean captain Ian Visser was originally from South Africa and the team represented the country in international competitions. Crushtacean finished runner-up to Firestorm 4 in the Commonwealth Carnage in Extreme 2, and came joint third with Tough As Nails in The Third World Championship.

Its name was inspired by a crab-bot described in Arthur C Clark's science fiction novel, Rendezvous with Rama.[1] It was also a pun on Crustacean, the group of arthropods to which the crab belongs.


  • Series 5 appearance
  • Series 6 appearance
  • Crushtacean in Extreme 2
  • Crushtacean as Krab-Bot
  • Crushtacean in Series 7
  • Crushtacean in the arena during Series 7
  • Crushtacean's turntable shot in Series 9

Crushtacean was a large disc-shaped robot armed with a pair of claws, designed to look like a crab. It was invertible, and was two-wheel driven either way up, with four wheels total. Notably, Crushtacean's wheels were almost completely above the shell of the robot, and its claws also had two castors attached to each. Crushtacean was armoured in 12mm thick aerospace aluminium. It featured a 1m turning circle and a 4cm ground clearance. The aerial sat exposed at the top of the robot, and as a result Crushtacean sometimes suffered from radio interference. The front of Crushtacean was lined with LEDs, to give the robot 'eyes'. The robot was painted silver throughout its UK series appearances, and purple and silver when it competed in Dutch Series 2 as Krab-Bot.

Crustacean was originally planned to be redesigned for the Sixth Wars, with hydraulic claws suggested by George Francis. However, due to the complexity of the hydraulic mechanisms, the original robot was brought back largely unchanged.

When Crushtacean returned in Series 9, it boasted top speeds of 20mph, increased from the former 12mph, and was painted red on the robot's claws and sides. This red paint is polyurethane, making Crushtacean the only robot to use this kind of paint; and is said to be very tough and durable. This polyurethane paint was used to protect the claws from spinners, possibly in response to Crushtacean's loss to Supernova from the Seventh Wars.



The crushing gloves

Crushtacean-team series 9

Crushtacean with its red claws in Series 9

Crushtacean's main weapon was a pair of claws capable of a 300-500kg grip strength. Crushtacean was unique, however, in that rather than being controlled by a button or a joystick, its claws were operated by a pair of gloves. The gloves had sensors that would respond when the wearer (usually Dominic Visser) would open or close his hands. As a result, Crushtacean's claws moved in tandem with its controlling roboteer, allowing Crushtacean an unprecedented level of dexterity and reflexiveness amongst pincers.

In The Sixth Wars, Crushtacean won the award for Most Original Entry, thanks to its unusual technology.


Work on the robot started in December 2000, and the robot took around 500 hours to complete, being finished in August 2001, just in time for the Series 5 qualifiers, where they fought and defeated Edge Hog. As a result, Crushtacean directly qualified for the Fifth Wars.

The team also applied to enter Series 8 of Robot Wars, but the filming clashed with a time when team member Dominic had to be at university, so the team withdrew their application, and instead entered Series 9.

Robot HistoryEdit

Series 5Edit


Robochicken-Evo gets a flip on Crushtacean

Crushtacean vs Robochicken-Evo

Crushtacean pins Robochicken-Evo in the CPZ

The newcomers Crushtacean started its first appearance in the wars very well against Robochicken-Evo in the first round of the heat. It got flipped a few times by Robochicken-Evo but paraded the chicken-like robot from CPZ to CPZ where it took damage from the House Robots, Crushtacean was also able to cause a bit of external damage to Robochicken-Evo using the claws. The fight went to a judges' decision, with the split decision awarding the win to Crushtacean, putting them through to the next round, to the surprise of the team.


Crushtacean's shock win over Behemoth

In the second round of the heat, Crushtacean was up against the far more experienced Behemoth. Crushtacean provided a huge shock in this battle against the 15th seeds. Crushtacean activated the pit release button, then Behemoth in an attempt to flip Crushtacean over levered itself over with its shovel, and Crushtacean preceded in grabbing Team Make Robotics' machine before slamming it into an angle grinder, and then dumping it down the pit for the win.


Wheely Big Cheese gets its potted crab

This put the newcomers Crushtacean through to the Heat Final were it was up against the 10th seeds Wheely Big Cheese, Crushtacean had a cheese grater tied to its claw for this battle, however it was no help. The seeded Wheely Big Cheese dominated the battle, as the crab-like robot was unable to grab Wheely Big Cheese, and the cheese was therefore able to flip Crushtacean into Dead Metal's CPZ. However Crushtacean escaped to try and attack again, but a massive flip from Wheely Big Cheese was enough to rip the aerial from Crushtacean, immobilising it completely. It wasn't counted out despite being immobilised, but Wheely Big Cheese did slowly push it down the pit and out of the competition.

"And what a bold effort it was by Crushtacean."
— Jonathan Pearce

At the end of the series, Crushtacean was nominated for the Most Promising Newcomer Award, but lost out to Fluffy.

Series 6Edit

Dantomkia vs Crushtacean vs Mr Nasty vs Doctor Fist

Crushtacean removes Mr Nasty's aerial

Crushtacean Series 6 Arena Wall

Sir Killalot holds Crushtacean near the arena wall

Crushtacean's first round battle for the Sixth Wars had Dantomkia, Mr Nasty and Dr Fist in it, three newcomers to the main competition. Crushtacean attacked Mr Nasty at first, instantly immobilising it by cutting off its aerial, but then got flipped against the arena wall in the CPZ by Dantomkia. Crushtacean was an open target for Sir Killalot and seemed to be in trouble as the big house robot picked up Crushtacean and nearly dropped it out the arena. In the end, Killalot let it go. Crushtacean was pressurized a lot by Dantomkia and seemed to have lost its mobility, but Crushtacean went through with Dantomkia as Mr Nasty and Dr Fist had already broken down.

Chaos 2 Series 6 Round 2

Crushtacean holds Chaos 2 in its claws

Crushtacean Series 6 Pit

Crushtacean drives into the pit

In Round 2 Crushtacean was up against the 5th seeds and former UK Champion Chaos 2. Crushtacean started off well as Chaos 2 tried to flip Crushtacean but leaned itself forward, then Crushtacean thrusted the two times UK Champion onto the wall where it landed on its side but it managed to recover. Chaos 2 got some flips in on Crushtacean but had no effect on the crab-like robot due to it being invertible. Crushtacean then activated the pit release and then reversed into the pit eliminating itself from the Sixth Wars.

At the end of the series, Crushtacean was given the Most Original Entry Award.

Extreme 2Edit


Crushtacean pits Cerberus

Panic, turtle and crab

Crushtacean targets Terror Turtle

Crushtacean came back for Extreme Series 2 and took part in the Commonwealth Carnage representing South Africa. In the opening round melee, Crushtacean went up against Panic Attack representing Wales, Cerberus representing Cyprus and Terror Turtle representing Canada. Crushtacean started very well by chasing down and soon grabbing hold of Cerberus before opening the pit and throwing the machine from Cyprus down. With only Panic Attack and Terror Turtle remaining, Crushtacean caused damage to the rear framework of the turtle. Later, Sir Killalot grabbed Terror Turtle in his claw, so Crushtacean slipped around the House Robot's backside and cut his hydraulic cables, after which he did not move again. On a Judges' decision, Crushtacean qualified alongside Panic Attack.


Crushtacean grips Corkscrew


Crushtacean falls in the pit

In the second round, Crushtacean then faced the Scottish Corkscrew. The fight started with Corkscrew doing its usual tactic of running away to get up to speed, and this meant that Crushtacean was sent reeling by the first contact between the two. However, Crushtacean then managed to chase the Scottish robot into the arena wall, stopping the spinning rim, allowing Crushtacean to grab hold of the blades. Crushtacean then waltzed Corkscrew into the pit release before pushing it down. Crushtacean also fell into the pit itself, but the victory stood.

The final was against the English Firestorm 4, the English representative.

Philippa Forrester: "Do you have any chance at all?"
Ian Visser: "No!"
— A lack of confidence from Team Crushtacean
Firestorm IV vs Crushtacean

Firestorm defeats Crushtacean


Refbot counts out Crushtacean

Team Crushtacean's fears were proven true, as their robot was hounded by Firestorm, its high ground clearance constantly being exposed by the flipper. Crushtacean was pushed into Dead Metal, which narrowly missed with an attempt to slice through the wheels on top of Crushtacean. Still in the CPZ, Firestorm flipped Crushtacean into the House Robot to put Crushtacean onto its side, and then flipped it into the arena wall. Another well-aligned flip from Firestorm left Crushtacean stranded on its side, where it was left alone and counted out. Crushtacean was not attacked by the House Robots, which were occupied by Firestorm's attacks, but regardless it had fallen in the final.

Dutch Series 2Edit

Crushtacean entered the second series of the Dutch Wars as Krab-Bot, where its first battle was against Alien Destructor 2. Krab-Bot grabbed Alien Destructor, and tried to push it around, but it escaped and shoved Krab-Bot into Dead Metal's CPZ. Krab-Bot escaped unharmed and grabbed Alien Destructor again. Dead Metal intervened to separate the two, and began cutting into Alien Destructor, puncturing two of its tyres. Time ran out, and the judges ruled that Krab-Bot was the winner.

Hammerhead 2 vs Krab Bot

Krab-Bot pushes Hammerhead 2 into an angle grinder

In the next round, Krab-Bot immediately grabbed and dragged Hammerhead 2 around the arena. Hammerhead 2 got free and tried to flip Krab-Bot over, but couldn't manage to. It rammed Krab-Bot, and Krab-Bot began limping. Krab-Bot attempted to get hold of Hammerhead again, and eventually succeeded and pushed it into an angle grinder, where it was held until time was called. Once again, the judges had to make the decision, and once again they ruled in favour of Krab-Bot.

In the Heat Final, Krab-Bot met Twisted Metal Evo, and began the battle in its usual style, grabbing Twisted Metal and pushing it around the arena. Twisted Metal tried to come back on the attack, but couldn't get its disc spinning. It drove into Matilda's CPZ, and the house robot's flywheel put a huge gash in its armour. Krab-Bot pushed Twisted Metal into Sir Killalot's CPZ, so Killalot picked up Twisted Metal and began spinning it round and round. Krab-Bot opened up the pit, but could not push Twisted Metal down into it before time ran out. The jury ruled that Krab-Bot was the heat winner.

Philipper 2 vs Krab Bot

Krab-Bot stuck on an angle grinder

In the Grand Final, Krab-Bot came up against Philipper 2. Krab-Bot tried to grab Philipper, but couldn't due to Philipper's odd shape. Philipper flipped Krab-Bot onto an angle grinder, and the Refbot helped it down. Krab-Bot then managed to grab Philipper by its open flipper, and pushed it into a CPZ, where Shunt and Growler forcefully separated the two. Philipper flipped Krab-Bot again, and before it could close up its flipper, Krab-Bot got its claw stuck inside. Growler separated the two again, and Krab-Bot attacked Philipper from the rear. Both robots tried to dig into one another with their crushing weapons as the timer ran out. The judges ruled in favour of Philipper 2, and Krab-Bot finished just outside of the top four.

Series 7Edit

Behemoth Crushtacean Oota

Crushtacean, seconds before it went out of the arena

Crushtacean OotA

Crushtacean after being dumped out of arena

In Round 1 of the Seventh Wars, Crushtacean went up against UFO, Tartarus and the 10th seeds Behemoth, this then being a rematch for the Series 5 shock. Crushtacean attacked UFO at the start of the battle, but couldn't grab hold of UFO's wedge shape. UFO then got underneath Crushtacean, but as its flipper didn't work, UFO just pushed Crushtacean around. Then Behemoth rammed and tried to lift Crushtacean, but then quickly flipped Crushtacean into an arena wall. Crushtacean was briefly impeded by UFO, but was then flipped very close to the wall again. However Crushtacean escaped, but Behemoth and UFO had ganged up on Crushtacean, ramming and flipping it around the arena, until it drove over UFO and became stuck on the arena wall. Finally left immobile, Behemoth flipped it out as an act of vengeance for the Series 5 defeat at Crushtacean's claws.

Crushtacean vs Topbot

Crushtacean drops Topbot in the pit

Crushtacean returned for The Third World Championship. In its qualifier it faced Irish robot Topbot. Crushtacean quickly grabbed hold of Topbot and pushed it into the CPZ, but it escaped. Topbot attacked Crushtacean with its spinning disc but it did no damage. Topbot then drove into the arena wall and Crushtacean grabbed hold of it again and pushed it around the arena. Crushtacean then nudged the pit release button and dropped Topbot into the pit of oblivion.

In the first round, it faced Dutch Champions PulverizeR and Swiss robot Snake Bite. Crushtacean immediately opened the pit, but was attacked by PulverizeR. Meanwhile, Snake Bite looked like it had broken down. Crushtacean then rammed PulverizeR against the arena wall, but couldn't get a grip on PulverizeR's slanted body. Snake Bite had been counted out, but had also come back to life and started attacking both of its opponents and tried to crush into Crushtacean. The match ended and the Judges decided that Crushtacean had qualified for the Semi-Finals.


Crushtacean is plucked up by Sir Killalot after being counted out

Crushtacean Flipped

Crushtacean's claw hangs loose.

Here it met Supernova, which was representing Sri Lanka. Crushtacean quickly rammed Supernova, but it looked like some pieces came off Crushtacean after colliding front on with Supernova's disc. Crushtacean then appeared to be losing mobility and was left stranded near Shunt's CPZ. Supernova attacked it a few more times and Crushtacean completely stopped. Crushtacean was then counted out and picked up by Sir Killalot, who paraded Crushtacean around the arena, eventually dropping it on the floor flipper. Crushtacean was flipped and then due to its rounded shaped rolled into the arena wall and almost out of the arena. One of Crushtacean's claws had broken and cease was called, eliminating Crushtacean from the tournament.

Series 9Edit

Crushtacean competed in Heat 4, where it faced newcomers Apex, Series 8 competitors, Ironside3, and Grand Finalist from the previous war, Pulsar.

"Only here on Robot Wars will you see a fight between three huge spinners and a crab."
— Dara Ó Briain
Ironside3 Crushtacean

Crushtacean is knocked out by Ironside3

Crushtacean flame pit

The immobile Crushtacean is roasted on the Flame Pit

Crushtacean's initial movements were tentative as it crept around in the centre of the arena. Suddenly, Crushtacean turned its rear towards Ironside3 which was fast approaching, and a subsequent hit took a chunk out of Crushtacean and sent it spiralling over the Flame Pit. Crushtacean showed no signs of movement as the arena hazard lit up with fire, and with Apex also immobilised from an explosive attack from Pulsar, the two were counted out. Cease was called, and Crushtacean's Series 9 campaign came to an immediate end.


UK Series
Series 5
The Fifth Wars - UK Championship
Heat Final
Heat H, Eliminator vs. Robochicken-Evo Won
Heat H, Semi-Final vs. Behemoth (15) Won
Heat H, Final vs. Wheely Big Cheese (10) Lost
Series 6
The Sixth Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Round 2
Heat C, Round 1 vs. Mr Nasty, Dantomkia, Doctor Fist Qualified
Heat C, Round 2 vs. Chaos 2 (5) Lost
Extreme Series 2
Commonwealth Carnage
Representing South Africa, Runner-up
Round 1 vs. Panic Attack (WAL), Terror Turtle (CAN), Cerberus (CYP) Qualified
Round 2 vs. Corkscrew (SCO) Won
Final vs. Firestorm 4 (ENG) Lost
Series 7
The Seventh Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Round 1
Heat L, Round 1 vs. Behemoth (10), Tartarus, UFO Eliminated
The Third World Championship
Representing South Africa, Semi-Finalist
Qualifier vs. Topbot (IRE) Won
Heat vs. PulverizeR (NED), Snake Bite (SUI) Won
Semi-Final vs. Supernova (SRI) Lost
Series 9
Series 9 – UK Championship
Round 1
Heat 4, Group Battle vs. Apex, Ironside3, Pulsar Eliminated
Dutch Series
Series 2
Dutch Championship
Grand Final, Round 1
Heat C, Round 1 vs. Alien Destructor 2 Won
Heat C, Round 2 vs. Hammerhead 2 Won
Heat C, Final vs. Twisted Metal Evo Won
Grand Final, Round 1 vs. Philipper 2 Lost


  • UK Wins: 7
  • UK Losses: 6
  • Dutch Wins: 3
  • Dutch Losses: 1

Series RecordEdit

UK SeriesEdit

Crustaceans workings

The insides of Crushtacean

Main Series Crushtacean Series Record
The First Wars Did not enter
The Second Wars Did not enter
The Third Wars Did not enter
The Fourth Wars Did not enter
The Fifth Wars Heat Final
The Sixth Wars Heat, Round 2
The Seventh Wars Heat, Round 1
Series 8 Withdrew application
Series 9 Heat, Round 1
Series 10 Did not enter
Robot Wars Extreme Appearances
Series 1 Did not enter
Series 2 Commonwealth Carnage, Runner-up

Dutch SeriesEdit

Series Krab-Bot Series Record
Series 1 Did not enter
Series 2 Grand Final, Round 1

Robot Wars Live EventsEdit

Crushtacean 2016

Crushtacean in 2016

After a 12-year absence from the robot combat scene, Crushtacean came out of retirement in 2016 to fight at the first Robot Wars live event of the year in Manchester. In the first show, Crushtacean showed that it was still a very capable battler, grabbing Kill-E-Crank-E, which would eventually break down, outlasting Chimera which pitted itself, and defeated Meggamouse to win its melee. Crushtacean also took part in a Tag Team battle, siding with Iron-Awe 7. Iron-Awe quickly immobilised Ceros but broke down in the process, leaving Crushtacean to fight Cherub alone. Crushtacean dominated the battle, refusing to let go of Cherub, before eventually breaking down, leaving Cherub as the winner on a judge's decision. It managed to reach the semi-finals of the main competition before being flipped out the arena by Ripper. Crushtacean managed to finish 3rd in this event.



Crushtacean, mis-spelt as Crushtacen.

  • On the board listing the nominations for the Most Promising Newcomer in Series 5, Crushtacean was erroneously spelt as Crushtacen.
  • Crushtacean is the only South African robot to compete in any main competition of Robot Wars.
  • All of the seeds Crushtacean faced in the main competition in the original series were multiples of 5.
  • Captain Ian Visser was able to get through the Dutch Robot Wars interviews by speaking Afrikaans, a native South African language which is virtually identical to Dutch.
  • Every fight Krab-Bot fought in in Dutch Robot Wars: Series 2 resulted in a judges decision.
  • Krab-Bot is one of seven machines to place in the top eight of a domestic championship and the top four of a World Championship, alongside Razer, Tornado, 101, Storm 2, Manta and Behemoth. It is the only robot to have made the finals in a domestic championship that was not its own.




  1. IOL article - Crushtacean smashes its way to Robot Wars

External LinksEdit

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