January 4, 2023

Bloodsport Gears up for BattleBots Season 7 with Manufacturing Help from Protolabs

By Protolabs

Battlebots fan favorite, Bloodsport is back and better than ever. Team Bots n’ Stuff’s latest iteration boasts exciting engineering upgrades and an edgier look, which includes key components that we at Protolabs were psyched to machine. Team captain and driver operator, Justin Marple gave us the inside scoop on what fans can expect from Bloodsport this season. Battlebots activate!

Bloodsport 3.0: More than Just a Scary Face

Ahead of the new season, (World Championship VII) Team Bots n’ Stuff completely redesigned Bloodsport, giving it a new look and engineering enhancements to address key issues from seasons past. Fans are sure to take notice of Bloodsport’s facelift, which includes an intimidating mug with menacing red eyes, pointy claws, and even more creepy blood splatter than previous versions.

Aside from aesthetics, its weapon system featuring horizontally spinning blades got a complete overhaul. “It would always hit pretty hard, but sometimes it would die for a couple of seconds here and there. There were a lot of matches where we were like, ‘If it just would have kept running for 10 more seconds, we would have won that one.’ We wanted to address that and figure out how do we make the weapon super reliable, give it more power, faster spin up; everything you would want out of a Battlebot,” said Marple.

The team decided that placing the weapon above the blade instead of below it would boost the overall motor power and help absorb hits, making it less susceptible to breaking. “What we’re hoping is that this will create the next generation of what overhead spinners will be able to do in Battlebots,” he said.

What are some of Bloodsport’s biggest strengths? “It tends to be very quick on the drive. The chassis is nimble and has a punchy drive style as we go around the box. We try to engage with other bots on our terms. Also, our weapon is really big and has a lot of reach. We can grab around the edges of robots easily.”

The Evolution of Bloodsport

In season 4, Bloodsport made his debut in the likeness of a Roomba vacuum. The team realized early on that a circle base didn’t perform the way they intended. Team Bots n’ Stuff then shifted to a trapezoidal look for season 5 and 6. “Going into season 7, we wanted to give the bot some personality, something for fans to be excited about, in addition to improving how the robot performs. We’re excited to see how fans receive it!”

Bloodsport Robot

Season 4 (2019)

Bloodsport Robot

Season 5 (2020)

Bloodsport Robot

Season 6 (2021)

Bloodsport Robot

Season 7 (2022)

Quick-and-Complex Machining

Bloodsport’s newly designed billet chassis exceeded the maximum dimensions that our in-house CNC machining capabilities could accommodate, but Hubs, our digital network of manufacturing suppliers, was ready to step in. Milled from a single piece of aluminum and free of screws or fasteners, the complex structure measured at more than two feet in length and width arrived to the team’s specifications in short order, preventing delays.

Protolabs was able to come through and machine this very challenging part and the benefit to a part like that is there’s no joints, there’s no screws—anything that could when you get hit by other robots. “It’s just a single piece of aluminum, it’s just as strong as you can possibly make a robot. We’ve got threads on the sides, threads on the front. It’s a very challenging part. Traditionally, as a machinist, you want to see flat edges everywhere, but when you have this rounded component with chamfered sides and 5-axis screw holes for mounting, it’s challenging. But the challenge is well worth the reward of having this beautifully optimized chassis,” Marple said.

Protolabs’ quick-turn CNC machining capabilities would play a vital role during the filming of season 7. While in the heat of competition, the team required a new weapon module system in between matches. The order was submitted by Marple via our digital quoting platform, sent to the production floor and shipped from Minnesota to Las Vegas in less than 36 hours.

"To have a sponsor like Protolabs be able to produce these parts so quickly and have them delivered to Vegas within 36 hours was huge for the team.”

Design Durability to Prevent Destruction

The explosive fights within the Battlebox are essentially wars of attrition, breaking one another down until one bot gives out or explodes. Material selection and overall bot design can go a long way in ensuring your bot can endure short, but violent and repeated battles.

“Something that people might not realize about these robots is, when they hit each other, it’s a 30 mile per hour car crash worth of energy going into the other robot. They do this time and time again, 20-30 times a match. So, to hit something that hard and be able to survive those hits, it’s challenging. It’s very hard to not lose against yourself, so the material that you choose in every part of the robot is very important.”

Marple explained that material needs to be chosen strategically based on the specific component’s function. Aluminum, steel, and titanium are all commonly used in the bot world in weaponry components due to their tough, but lightweight nature. “A lot of our weapon shafts and gears are titanium, and our blades tend to be steel since it has to deliver that 30-mph worth of energy into the other robot.”

We can’t wait to watch Bloodsport step into the Battlebox. Be sure to catch the Battlebots World Champion VII premiere January 5 on Discovery! Follow Bloodsport on Instagram to catch all the latest updates.

Giving Back: Engineering Without Borders

This year, Team Bots n’ Stuff decided to partner with Engineering Without Borders (EWB), an organization dedicated to helping underserved communities across the world. Participants who donated $20 to EWB were able to have their names machined onto the bottom of Bloodsport. “Protolabs was willing to match all of these donations, which was really exciting. We’re happy to be able to give back and encourage people to look at what’s happening in other countries and in underserved communities. We’re hoping to continue this and to grow this effort in the future,” said Marple.

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