Hill City Robot Combat 2023

For the 6th time in Hill City Combat Robot history Vector Space brought robot makers from far and wide to our little Lynchburg hamlet to cheer, to clash, to laugh and to cry but most importantly to leave with absolute resolve to rebuild stronger, better and more bots for next year. This annual event attracts 200 to 300 spectators each year and is hosted on the beautiful campus of Virginia Episcoble School in their historic wrestling gymnasium.  Onlookers enjoy a birds eye view of the battling bots from the gym’s unique mezzanine. 

Never had the pleasure of witnessing the ruckus rounds of flying robot weapons, learn the ways of this Battle Bot-esque competition? In this sporting event, teams can enter their home-built bot into one of two categories; the Antweight class for robots no heavier than 1lb or the Beetleweight class, no heavier than 3lbs. Robots must be weighed before they can enter the arena and although they sound small they require a fortified mini gym to exercise their strength and protect the audience from airborne metal, plastic or electrical detritus. After Judges carefully check robots weights and safety requirements, two contestants take to their corners and use the ready indicator to signify it’s time for the match to begin. Bots battle for three minutes before judges decide who goes on to the next round. Robots and their drivers continue to clash for hours in our double elimination tournament until only one comes out on top. 

A special feature to the event this year was the addition of a brand new arena. The arena, a sturdy 8’x8’x4’ observation cube, built by program director and founder of Vector Space, Adam Spontarelli, was built on site at the makerspace. The arena, which could be described as a temporary robot prison or robo torture dome, was built with steel bumpers, double pane polycarbonate windows, a full ceiling and more to accommodate all the explosive nature of this event. This arena should withstand years of robot brutalization. Andrew Burks, Paul Van De Graf and Bill Guzeck, makers of Vector Space, teamed with Adam to add other snazzy event enhancing features such as the oh so smashable ready buttons and the illuminated countdown clock. And believe it or not, Vector Space developed an original open source robot design for the competition! Interested in our open source robot designs… sorry! you'll have to hear more about Vector Space’s exciting plans and the ambitious places those open robos are headed in the unveiling in a future blog post.

Fans and competitors agree, there is no event like robot combat, it's thrilling, it's a sport of strength and intellect but it's also lighthearted, good humored, family friendly and at times hilarious. Families often join forces as a team, a father daughter duo or a suit of brothers. In keeping with the spirit of fun, teams don't hesitate to go to the end of the universe and back searching for the perfectly obscure name. This year we saw robots with names such as Chaos Banana, McWolverine and my personal favorite Chicken Bot Pie. Competition on this occasion lasted for hours until only the best bots were left standing. This Year the best robot overall and the winner of several housemade trophies, thank you Elise, went to Antweight and Beetleweight champ, hauling all the way from Loveland Ohio, team Striped Might! In the end, Vector Space staff, event volunteers, judges and our fabulous announcer, Jeff Benson, gladly received acclaim from seasoned competitors “Vector Space's robot combat event is in their top three ever.” 

A hearty thank you to everyone who makes this event possible. Bringing the excitement and joy of this spectacular event to Lynchburg is a pleasure and a privilege. 

Sponsorship for this event provided by the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation, WRVB Law, L3 Harris, VES, Lynchburg tourism association and Oldham Dentistry. Thank you for another great year sponsors!