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Judges in Pit 2016

Noel Sharkey, Sethu Vijayakumar and Lucy Rogers in the pit in Series 8

Whenever a Robot Wars battle ended with no clear winner, a panel of three judges would decide on the outcome by scoring each competitor on style, control, damage and aggression. In total, eight different judges appeared on the show, all with backgrounds in robotics, electronics or computer science. The judges from the UK series also appeared on various other versions of the show, as they were usually filmed alongside each other in the same arena. In the Dutch and German Robot Wars, the judges were known as the jury.

List of JudgesEdit

Name UK Series Background
Noel Sharkey Series 1-10, Extreme 1-2 Head of Robotics at the University of Sheffield
Eric Dickinson Series 1-2 The only British veteran of the original US competition
Adam Harper Series 1-3 Then holder of the land speed record for electric vehicles
Martin Smith Series 3-7, Extreme 1-2 Head of the UK Cybernautics Society
Myra Wilson Series 4-5, Extreme 1 Head of Computer Science at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Mat Irvine Series 5-7, Extreme 1-2 BBC Technical Consultant and Visual Effects Designer
Sethu Vijayakumar Series 8-10 Professor of Robotics at Edinburgh University
Lucy Rogers Series 8-10 Doctor of Mechanical Engineering and Author
Craig Charles Judges

Craig Charles with the original trio of Judges

For Series 5 and Extreme 1, Martin Smith, Myra Wilson and Mat Irvine cycled throughout, with two of the three acting as judges alongside Noel Sharkey. After this, Wilson left the show, and Irvine, Sharkey and Smith remained in the role until the end of the original show's run.

Judges

Myra Wilson, Martin Smith and Noel Sharkey in the pit.

Noel Sharkey, Martin Smith and Mat Irvine also appeared as judges for all but one series of the US, Dutch and German wars as they all took place during or after the filming for Extreme Series 1, when those three judges were first put together. The only exception was Dutch Series 1, in which Myra Wilson was a judge instead of Mat Irvine.

In recognition for creating the first antweight robot, Adam Clark was the sole judge of the Extreme Series 2 Antweight Championship.

Judges' DecisionEdit

Judgesthinking

Martin Smith, Noel Sharkey, and Mat Irvine in deliberation

A judges' decision would be made at the end of a battle if:

  • There are a sufficient number of mobile machines when time runs out such that there is no clear winner(s).
  • The machines fighting become immobilised at roughly the same time (the judges may call for a rematch in this case).
  • There is a rule infraction, for example a health and safety hazard.
  • The match must be halted early for any reason (the judges may call for a rematch in this case).
  • It is decided that the House Robots improperly influenced the outcome of the battle.

The four criteria for judges' decisions during the original run of the series were style, control, damage and aggression. Of these, damage carried the most weight, with aggression being deemed the next most important factor.

  • Style refers to how well the robot entertained the viewers and demonstrated its capabilities during the battle. Best examples of this include Razer's or Mute's fancy ways of self-righting. One would lose points for style if it did nothing entertaining during the battle. Style is judged to be the least important of the criteria.
  • Control refers to how well the robot was driven during the battle. It also gives weight to how much control the robot had over the flow of the battle. Ways to lose points for control include getting pushed around, and poor avoidance of arena hazards. Control is the third most important factor in a judges' decision.
  • Aggression refers to how aggressive the robot was deemed to be during the battle, not necessarily causing damage. The best example of this is Storm 2 vs The Grim Reaper from Series 7, where although Storm 2 did not damage The Grim Reaper sufficiently enough to immobilise it, it was continuously on the offensive throughout the entire battle. Prior to Series 8, aggression could only be outweighed by damage.
  • Damage refers to the amount of damage inflicted on the other robot as a result of one robot's actions. Notable examples of this include Wild Thing vs Hypno-Disc from Series 4, Firestorm 3 vs Razer from Series 5 and Dominator 2 vs 101, again from Series 4. Until Series 8, damage was considered to be the most important factor in a judges' decision, and could outweigh aggression in the event of a closely-fought battle.

Weighting of Judges' Decision CriteriaEdit

  • DAMAGE. (Weight of 4) 1-5 points x 4 = Score for Damage.
  • AGGRESSION. (Weight of 3) 1-5 points x 3 = Score for Aggression.
  • CONTROL. (Weight of 2) 1-5 points x 2 = Score for Control.
  • STYLE. (Weight of 1) 1-5 points x 1 = Score for Style.

If there are no clear winners at the end of a battle, the winner of a judges' decision is the robot which has scored the highest number of points across all categories. This scoring system gives a fair and unbiased chance for every robot - irrespective of size, weight or power - to win.

In Series 8, changes were made to the judges' decision scoring criteria. Aggression has now been deemed the most important factor, with a x 3 weighting; Damage is now the second most important with a weight of 2, and Control remains the third most important with a weight of 1. The Style category was also removed from the scoring criteria.

List of Judges' DecisionsEdit

See: List of judges' decisions in Robot Wars.

Other ResponsibilitiesEdit

In Series 8 and 9, the Judges gained more prominent speaking roles. After certain battles, one Judge would describe the battle they saw, talking about noticeable tactics, and their opinion of certain competitors' performances. If necessary, they would also justify the outcome of a Judges' decision. Selecting which robot recieved the wildcard into the Grand Final also fell to the judges, who chose Thor and Apollo in Series 8 and 9 respectively.

In Series 8-9, Dara Ó Briain and Angela Scanlon (from Series 9) would also interview one Judge in each qualifying episode, discussing developments in robotics, robot combat and technology. Topics of discussion included the NASA Valkyrie project, roboteering communities and communication devices, 'shared autonomy', animatronics, the introduction of LiPo batteries and HARDOX steel, and domestic applications of drones and exoskeletons.


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