The Quarantine Stream: ‘Battlebots’ is a Joyous Ringside Seat at the Exciting World of Combat Robotics
Posted on Friday, January 8th, 2021 by Jacob Hall
(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Series: Battlebots and Battlebots: Bounty Hunters
Where You Can Stream It: Discovery+
The Pitch: Ladies and gentlemen…it’s robot fighting time! Folks from around the world gather for one purpose and one purpose only: to see if they can best opponents in the ring using 250-pound robots they built specifically to fight other robots. Some robots smash. Some lift. Some flip. Some are slick and gorgeous to look at. Some look like they were cobbled together in a garage. Some are made by people whose entire lives are based about robotics. Others are the work of people who have made this niche sport their very peculiar hobby. But one thing unites everyone: they all love building robots…and using those robots to break other robots.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: No one gets into “combat robotics” hoping to get rich or famous. Despite the existence of this slickly-produced series (which has run off and on for over two decades across several networks), this is essentially an underground sport fueled by passion. This means Battlebots is somehow one of the purest shows on television. The people building and breaking these robots are on this show – and investing their blood, sweat, tears, and money – because they love doing this. There’s literally no other reason to build a combat robot. What this means is quietly profound: this is a televised competition with no ulterior movies and no cynicism. It’s just people who really love robots, using their robot to compete against people who also really love robots.