Robot Riot is a tabletop fighting competition that pits home-brew robots against each other. (Image credit: The Emporium)


Time for a little local news in Chicago! (BTW... I think I will enter this competition circuit.)


Robot Riot is an event group that touts itself as “the backyard wrestling of robotics,” which pit tavern-based tabletop robotic fighters against one another. There are two ways to win- either destroy the competition or win the hearts of the crowd watching the spectacle. Contestants can enter their small home-brew robot creations or use one of the troupe’s loaners to battle it out, with the object of the game being to knock your opponent off the table or render it immobile. Each round is 1-minute long, and if there is no clear winner, then it falls to the crowd that produces the loudest cheer.


Robot Riot are regulars at the Emporium in Wicker Park (Chicago) but have traveled nationally, bringing their robotic fights to taverns around the US. Their robot creations are unusual in that they can be controlled through unconventional methods such as drinking, eating, and holding hands. Most are driven by completing a circuit- for example, one robot has a doughnut connected to an electrode on its top, while another electrode is connected to a pint of beer. When the operator takes a bite of food or a sip of beer, the robot then moves.



Moderation does play a big part in winning, as some contestants drained their pints before the match was over, and thus, no way to control the robot. Most of the robots are designed relatively simple and feature a SparkFun RedStick microcontroller, a SparkFun Motor Driver Dual Tb6612FNG, and a Makey Makey board, which can turn anything conductive into a controller. All of the hardware is packed into an Adafruit mini 3-layer round robot chassis outfitted with a pair of 288-RPM DC TT motors.


While the robots are not exactly the violent monstrosities featured on Robot Wars, they are still fun to battle with, and a welcome respite from Karaoke night. It’s not known when the next Robot Riot event will take place, however, those interested can check the groups Facebook page, or the Emporium website. 


Have a story tip? Message me at: cabe(at)element14(dot)com