Battle Royale: Robot fight club league ready to rumble in Edmonton

The first rule of robot fight club is ... you do talk about robot fight club.

'We want this to be an event with light and smoke and flame'

Lucas Sloan, founder of the Edmonton Robot Fighting League, poses with his battle robot Basilisk. (Kim Nakrieko/CBC)

The first rule of robot fight club is ... you do talk about robot fight club.

The Edmonton Robot Fighting League is up and running, and founder Lucas Sloan said they're looking to expand their ranks.  

He's promoting the league as an Edmonton first, and a "newly formed group of robot builders with destructive tendencies."

The club will welcome anyone with a robot looking to rumble.

Even someone with a little knack for electronics can build a war machine, Sloan said. And those who can't are encouraged to watch. 

"We want this to be available to anybody," Sloan said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "We want it to be a spectator thing, not just a builder thing.

"We want this to be an event with light and smoke and flame."

'Building robots to fight gladiator-style'

During a typical robot competition, machines do battle and try to disarm their foes in a sort of mechanized Roman coliseum fight.

The remote-controlled machines use blades, flames, flippers and crushers to disable or destroy one another.

"There is a huge amount of strategy involved, based on who you're up against," Sloan said. "They're very, very impressive machines.

"You're basically building robots to fight gladiator style."
Ever seen a robot battle? A local group in Edmonton is starting a robot fighting league. 4:12
Sloan has done many battles with his most trusted battle bot, Basilisk. You can see some of the impact points where the machine has taken hits.

Sloan and his brother were part of an Edmonton-based team of University of Alberta computer engineering graduate students that competed in the popular television series BattleBots in May 2016.

"I've been interested in [battle robots] ever since it was on television in the early 2000s. I grew up watching the TV show Battlebots.

"My brother and I were just absolutely in love with this show. And a couple of years ago, they brought it back to life. We auditioned and it became a thing."  

The show pit robot against robot inside a plexiglass cage, and the episode Sloan took part in was a complete gong show.

Producers lined up three-way battles among teams vying for the final spots on the season's roster.

His team was ready to rumble with Basilisk, a robot that specializes in flipping and punching its opponents, and it's weaponized sidekick Afterbyte, which sticks to its opponents with a vacuum component before piercing their outer shells with a drill press.

'We just need to set a date'

Lucas plans to build a smaller version of the Basilisk flipper-bot for the Edmonton league, and deploy it during their first battle.

The club hopes to secure an appropriate space for fights by the end of January. But before competition can begin, the club must construct an arena where the bots can do battle.

They've already drafted a detailed design that can be fabricated with a 3D printer, once they have a permanent place for it, said Sloan.

League members are already building their machines in preparation for the big day, he said.

"The league already exists," Sloan said. "We already decided our rules. We know our weight classes. Most of it's already figured out.

"Once we have the physical arena, we just need to set a date."

Listen to Edmonton AM with host Mark Connolly, weekday mornings at CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM in Edmonton. Follow the morning crew on Twitter @EdmAMCBC.