Dara Ó Briain (born 4th February 1972) is an Irish comedian and television presenter in the United Kingdom and Ireland. He is best known for presenting panel show Mock the Week, The Apprentice: You're Fired!, astronomy programme Stargazing Live and game show Go 8 Bit . He was announced as one of the co-presenters of Series 8 of Robot Wars on 3rd February 2016, alongside fellow Irish presenter Angela Scanlon, and reprised the role in Series 9 and 10.
Dara's role on Robot Wars is equal to that of co-presenter Angela Scanlon, in that he reprises the roles Craig Charles performed in the presenter's box, and also fills the role of a pit reporter, talking to teams in the pits. However, in Series 8, Ó Briain did have two roles exclusive to him as a presenter, in that he would interview one Judge per episode about the advancement of technology, and he would also open the show from within the arena. These roles would become shared with Scanlon in Series 9-10.
Dara's appointment to the role was met with a mixed reaction from fans, with some praising him as a good choice due to him having interest in science and technology, while some fans were disappointed that Craig Charles would not be returning as host. On the day of the announcement he spoke of his new role on his Twitter account, speaking of "happy memories" of Craig Charles' time on the show.
In Episode 1 of Robot Wars: Battle of the Stars, Dara Ó Briain took to the controls of TR2 to wage an exhibition match against Behemoth, driven by Angela Scanlon. TR2 dominated the bout, repeatedly flipping Behemoth, much to Dara Ó Briain's enjoyment. Towards the end of the bout, he allowed Scanlon to flip TR2, but he retaliated, and fought until cease was called. No winner was officially declared, although in a contest edited out of the televised broadcast, the battle continued for another minute after cease, where Behemoth drove into the pit, effectively awarding the win to Dara Ó Briain.
- "Oh I love it, I want to do it again and again and again and again!"
- — Dara Ó Briain
- Heat 1: Ó Briain and Professor Noel Sharkey discussed the updates made to competitor robots during Robot Wars’ hiatus, including the advent of improved weapon motors, HARDOX armour and lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries. Sharkey then shared his opinions on drink-serving drones from a bar in Singapore, and an exoskeleton designed to replace wheelchairs and enhance one’s upper body strength.
- Heat 2: Professor Sethu Vijayakumar discussed his collaboration with NASA on Valkyrie, a sophisticated humanoid designed to perform unmanned missions to Mars. Vijayakumar predicted that robots like Valkyrie would help reduce the cost of space missions to a fraction of those for manned missions, as a result of not requiring oxygen, food or water and being free of the health and safety constraints placed on human astronauts.
- Heat 3: Dr Lucy Rogers demonstrated the workings of animatronics to Ó Briain, with the help of a miniature animatronic dinosaur based on those used at a theme park in the Isle of Wight.
- Heat 4: Rogers appeared again to discuss with Ó Briain about the supportiveness of the roboteering community, as well as sharing her opinions on online communities, internet communication devices and affordable electronics such as the Raspberry Pi computer.
- Heat 5: Vijayakumar returned to explain the concept of ‘shared autonomy’, which enables machines to possess limited control over their functions. He then demonstrated the concept with a prosthetic robot arm attached to Ó Briain’s own arm, which grabbed hold of a bottle of water without crushing it and allowed Ó Briain to drink from it without leaving any spillages.
In Series 9-10, Ó Briain only conducted some of the interviews, with Angela Scanlon conducting the others held throughout each of the series. Dara Ó Briain talked to the Judges on these occasions:
- Series 9, Heat 1: Ó Briain and Vijayakumar further discussed shared autonomy, demonstrating a robot arm programmed to play Connect 4, which won the game against Angela Scanlon in the background.
- Series 9, Heat 2: Ó Briain talked to Sharkey about the developments of drones in the workforce, specifically Amazon's new delivery service.
- World Series, Episode 1: Ó Briain and Sharkey discussed combat robots in lower weight categories - antweights, beetleweights and featherweights. They were accompanied by Alex Shakespeare, whose antweight Space-Y flipped a pen off the workbench before throwing itself over numerous times and lifting the beetleweight robot. Sharkey recommended potential roboteers to start in the antweight category before working up through the other weight categories.
- World Series, Episode 2: Ó Briain discussed with Vijayakumar the concept and applications of 'wearable' robots, such as exoskeletons and prosthetic limbs. Vijayakumar also explained the process of symbiosis between the human nervous system and the robots being discussed, as well as potential benefits and issues concerning the wider use of 'wearable' robots.
- Dara Ó Briain publicly stated that, of all the robot types, he was particularly fond of clusterbots.