A Chattanooga robot builder competes for BattleBots supremacy
If you are a fan of robotic combat, you are likely aware of BattleBots. What you may not be aware of is that a local builder, Jason Brown, is part of one of the premier teams on the popular television show.
We sat down with Jason to talk about how he got started with robotic combat, what it’s like to be part of Chaos Corps on BattleBots, and how interested people can get started competing in the fast-growing sport.
For Jason, it all started with Atlanta’s monster pop-culture convention, Dragon Con. “I saw my first event there back in the early ‘90s and I was hooked,” he explains. “I started building my first robot immediately afterwards, with very limited hand tools and whatever parts I could scrounge up from scrap metal and cordless tool motors. My first bots weren’t very successful, but as I learned, they got better.”
Over the years, Jason has had ever increasing success with a steady progression of new and improved bots, and has collected a few tournament victories at the various Robot Battles competitions held throughout the Southeast. So when a group of veteran builders based in the South asked him if he wanted to be part of a BattleBots team, he jumped at the chance.
“BattleBots has been amazing,” he says with enthusiasm. “It’s a big team, which I’m not used to, and the best people ever. Our bot, Bombshell, was a very ambitious build that we had to finish in a very short time window, but it was absolutely worth it. It was my first trip to Los Angeles (where the show is filmed), which I got to experience with my family, and the entire process was amazing.”
He can’t tell anyone how far Bombshell advances in the competition, though we do know they will have at least one match this Thursday night in the two-hour season finale.
But while BattleBots may be the most well-known event, there are literally dozens of other robotic competitions around the country. One of the oldest is Robot Battles, which hosts events here in Chattanooga as well as in Nashville and Atlanta, including at this weekend’s Dragon Con. And unlike BattleBots, which features the 250lb heavyweights, Robot Battles focuses on the smaller bots, ranging from one to thirty pounds, which makes it easier for beginning builders to get involved.
“My advice to new builders is to read and research, seek out online communities, find events close to you and attend them,” Jason says. “Talk to some of the builders. They are usually very approachable and happy to give advice. Be prepared to learn. It doesn’t matter if you are a student or if you hold advanced engineering degrees, you will learn a lot from the sport and have a great time doing it. Just do it! Chances are your first robots will be terrible, but like any sport it takes practice and perseverance to be successful.”
The BattleBots two-hour season finale airs this Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on WTVC-NewsChannel 9.