- "Ah, might have a girl’s name, but nothing ladylike about our T.R.A.C.I.E., made of welded steel with deadly spikes and a very low centre of gravity – only twenty centimetres high!"
- — Jonathan Pearce introduces T.R.A.C.I.E.
T.R.A.C.I.E. (standing for Terrestrial Robotic Artificial Computerised Intelligent Engine) was a competitor robot that fought exclusively in the first series of Robot Wars. It reached the Grand Final in its only appearance, ultimately losing to Roadblock after getting itself beached on the featherweight Cunning Plan during the battle.
The robot was built by students from KEGS School in Chelmsford, including actor Joe Thomas, who is best known for portraying Simon Cooper in the British TV sitcom The Inbetweeners.
The team would later build a similar robot, S.H.A.R.O.N., for Series 3, which they named after a remark made by Jeremy Clarkson about T.R.A.C.I.E. throughout its appearance. However, S.H.A.R.O.N was rejected by the show’s producers, and did not compete in that series.
The KEGS school team would also go on to create the popular Tectonic Robot Wars website.
T.R.A.C.I.E. was a low rectangular-shaped robot constructed out of welded steel, with two-wheel drive, two sets of castors at either end, and armed with a pair of long steel spikes as its weapons. It was notable as being the first invertible robot to appear in Robot Wars, and had top castors to help it run upside-down as well as a low centre of gravity of only 20cm. Its spikes were mounted at the front, and while proving cumbersome and prone to getting the robot wedged in confined spaces, they were effective in enabling T.R.A.C.I.E. to stab and spear through opponents when it rammed into them at high speed. This allowed the spikes to get hold of opponents as it pushed them around, as well as causing considerable damage to their armour and tyres. T.R.A.C.I.E. proved generally fast, aggressive and durable, but also had an average turning circle, intermittent drive problems during its Gauntlet run and a low ground clearance of 5cm; the latter ultimately resulting in it getting stuck on the wedge of Cunning Plan during the Grand Final.
T.R.A.C.I.E. competed in Heat F, and was the third robot to traverse the Gauntlet in that heat. It steadily drove off the turntable and headed for the right-hand route, briefly being nudged by Sergeant Bash before driving into the wall. T.R.A.C.I.E. backed away and hesitated as Sergeant Bash kept shooting flames at it, although his flamethrower was unable to reach its low bodyshell. It made steady progress until it suddenly stopped at the half-way point, where it was attacked by Sergeant Bash and Dead Metal and pushed into an overturned skittle as time ran out. Even so, T.R.A.C.I.E.still managed to cover a distance of 8.70m, enough for it to finish fourth on the leaderboard and qualify for the Trial stage.
- "Oh dear, should’ve called it ‘S.H.A.R.O.N’. Could’ve been better, right, but there we are!"
- — Jeremy Clarkson summarises T.R.A.C.I.E.’s Gauntlet run
Along with the other four surviving robots, T.R.A.C.I.E. fought in the Snooker Trial, with no modifications to its chassis or weapons. It immediately got itself stuck trying to turn out of its pocket, and struggled to get to the balls as its spikes continued getting impaled against the side rails and nets.
- "…and I wonder, what’s happened to T.R.A.C.I.E., impaired on that side fence, it would seem."
- — Jonathan Pearce as T.R.A.C.I.E. is unable to free itself from its pocket
T.R.A.C.I.E. appeared to have lost mobility at this point, despite being close to a lot of balls, most of which were scooped up and potted by Prince of Darkness. It ended up scoring no balls at all by the time ‘cease’ was called, but progressed to the Arena stage anyway as stock robot Eubank the Mouse was deemed to have ‘irreparably broken down’ due to it not being allowed to progress. This was despite Eubank the Mouse being mobile for considerably longer than T.R.A.C.I.E..
In its Semi-Final, T.R.A.C.I.E. faced Prince of Darkness, which had been repainted and fitted with a set of spikes for this battle. Both robots collided with each other in the opening moments, with T.R.A.C.I.E. using one of its spikes to push Prince of Darkness towards a grille, only to spin around after being pushed back. T.R.A.C.I.E. then rammed Prince of Darkness side-on, spearing through its opponent’s left-hand tyre with the other spike.
- "In comes the spike, like a dagger to the heart, of the Prince of Darkness boys!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as T.R.A.C.I.E. punctures Prince of Darkness’s tyre
Both robots separated, then T.R.A.C.I.E. charged into Prince of Darkness again, catching it by the wedge and piercing through its left-hand tyre a second time. It then pushed Prince of Darkness from the right-hand side, spearing the other tyre and causing it to tip slightly as the two robots became stuck together, now open to attack from Sergeant Bash, Dead Metal and Matilda. Eventually, they were separated, with T.R.A.C.I.E. ending up on a grille and Prince of Darkness crawling along the arena floor on its punctured tyres until ‘cease’ was called. Despite being technically immobilised, T.R.A.C.I.E. was still declared the winner, much to Jeremy Clarkson’s delight.
- "Thank you, thank you, thank you for removing the most miserable robot from the equation!"
- — Jeremy Clarkson congratulates the KEGS School team for eliminating Prince of Darkness
In the Heat Final, T.R.A.C.I.E. faced Skarab for the sixth and final place in the Grand Final. Both robots moved slowly towards each other, until T.R.A.C.I.E. rammed into Skarab’s side, impaling through its fibreglass armour and forcing the House Robots to come out of their CPZs and attack the pair. Once separated, T.R.A.C.I.E. drove around Skarab, tearing off part of its armour as it backed away, before driving under Skarab’s mace and ramming it again from the front.
- "And up against it that mace, is like a little schoolground conker against a juggernaut!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as T.R.A.C.I.E. drives round and spears Skarab again
T.R.A.C.I.E. drove round Skarab again before charging across the arena, slamming into the side of Sergeant Bash and piercing through his wheelguards. It was briefly pinned between Sergeant Bash and the side bars, but drove away after an intervention from Shunt, and rammed Matilda after she attempted to cut Skarab’s radio control mast cut off with her chainsaw. T.R.A.C.I.E. rammed Sergeant Bash again just as time ran out, and the battle went to a judges’ decision. The decision went in favour of T.R.A.C.I.E., allowing it through to the Grand Final, which was shown immediately at the end of Heat F.
In the Grand Final, T.R.A.C.I.E. fought fellow heat winners Roadblock, Recyclopse, Robot The Bruce, Cunning Plan and Bodyhammer in a six-way melee to decide the first UK champion. It immediately turned towards Bodyhammer before slamming into Recyclopse, spearing through its armour as Roadblock attempted to get under both robots. It dragged Recyclopse back and separated near the side bars, before trying to spear Bodyhammer and Roadblock simultaneously and being rammed side-on by Robot The Bruce. T.R.A.C.I.E. spun round and drove up the wedge of Cunning Plan, effectively immobilising both robots at once due to its low ground clearance and being too heavy for Cunning Plan to push or back away from it. While this would have normally resulted in both robots being separated, as per the Robot Wars rules, no House Robots were available in this battle to do so, and the battle was not paused in spite of this. As a result, T.R.A.C.I.E. was instantly eliminated from the Grand Final, ultimately losing the battle - and the First Wars - to Roadblock.
- "Who knows what would have become of T.R.A.C.I.E. had the rules been observed"
- — David Hall
|T.R.A.C.I.E. - RESULTS|
|The First Wars - UK Championship|
|Heat F, Gauntlet||8.70m (4th)||Qualified|
|Heat F, Trial (Snooker)||0 Balls (4th)||Qualified|
|Heat F, Semi-Final||vs. Prince of Darkness||Won|
|Heat F, Final||vs. Skarab||Won|
|Grand Final||vs. Bodyhammer, Cunning Plan,|
Recyclopse, Roadblock, Robot The Bruce
- Wins: 2
- Losses: 1
|Series||T.R.A.C.I.E. Series Record|
|The First Wars||Grand Final|
|The Second Wars||Did not enter|
|The Third Wars||Not selected with S.H.A.R.O.N.|
|The Fourth Wars||Did not enter|
|The Fifth Wars||Did not enter|
|The Sixth Wars||Did not enter|
|The Seventh Wars||Did not enter|
|Series 8||Did not enter|
|Series 9||Did not enter|
|Series 10||Did not enter|
- T.R.A.C.I.E. was the very first invertible robot to appear on Robot Wars, and the only invertible robot to compete in the First Wars.
- KEGS School was one of only three teams in the UK series to feature four televised team members prior to 2016; T.R.A.C.I.E. and Leighbot were seemingly permitted to by Series 1's rules, while Team Berserk was allowed extra space for a translator.
- T.R.A.C.I.E. is the only Grand Finalist to featured spears as a weapon (when excluding Tornado's interchangeable spear, which was used only once in Series 6 and not in the Grand Final).
- T.R.A.C.I.E. was the only Grand Finalist from the First Wars not to complete the Gauntlet during its heat.
- T.R.A.C.I.E. is one of only three robots that did not return for another series after reaching a Grand Final. The others are TR2, which was not selected to compete in Series 9, and Series 7 champion Typhoon 2, whose driver still competed in Series 8 without his former team.
- At just 52.9kg, T.R.A.C.I.E. was one of the lightest heavyweights to compete in Series 1. Under modern combat rules, it would technically be classified as a middleweight.