Entanglement devices are a form of defence used by competitors in Robot Wars, first legalised in Series 10 in response to the dominance of spinning weapons in Series 9. They also made limited appearances in Extreme Warriors: Season 2 and earlier series of the UK Robot Wars, despite the devices being considered illegal in the latter. Entanglement devices come in various forms, including loose ropes, wires and chains, including other forms which are now deemed illegal such as cloth. They are designed to immobilise spinning weapons, and protect the user from those weapon types.
An entanglement device is a sacrificial addition to a robot which is easily absorbed by spinning weapons, and can consist of forms such as rope and cloth. If the entanglement device is successful, it should cease the function of spinning weapons such as bar spinners and drums upon contact by jamming it, or absorbing blows. However, it cannot consist of low-tech devices such as a fishing net, cables or mesh. Legal entanglement devices cannot exceed 1m in length, nor can it attach the opponent to the competing robot. The entanglement device must be designed specifically to combat spinning weapons.
According to the Series 10 build rules, an entanglement device must adhere to the following rules:
- Separation: Entanglement devices must not cause two or more robots to be entangled together to the point where a battle requires intervention in order for it to continue.
- Materials & Construction Type: Any entanglement devices constructed with rope, wire, chain and similar materials may not be interlaced or woven. Nets, cloth, chainmail and similar are prohibited.
- Maximum Length: The maximum permitted length of rope, wire, chain and any similar materials is 1m.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Entanglement devices, when successfully used, directly counter one of the most successful and damaging weapon types in modern Robot Wars - spinners. They can result in the spinner jamming if they are snagged, rendering the weapon ineffective, such as when the steel hoops of Thor disabled the bar spinner of Cathadh.
- The absorption of entanglement devices can cause other kinds of damage beyond spinner failure. For example, Gabriel 2's ropes succeeded in seizing Aftershock's weapon motor and ripping out some of its internal wiring once the latter's disc snagged them.
- Devices such as rope and chains can be applied to a robot externally, making them easily to affix and replace.
- Being an inactive addition to a robot, potentially made from soft material, entanglement devices do not contribute heavily to a robot's weight.
- Most entanglement devices are inexpensive, and require little-to-no engineering to apply.
- There are occasions where entanglement devices can be used offensively; the bolts applied to Gabriel 2's entanglement device immobilised Big Nipper in battle.
- Entanglement devices were a new addition to robotic combat, and are generally not applied to robots in battles that do not involve spinners, adding a surprise factor to each device.
- The debris created by entanglement devices can halt the movement of the opponent's wheels on the arena floor, as seen when Iron-Awe 6's entanglement cannons left enough debris on the floor to immobilise Tauron.
- Entanglement devices designed to combat one form of spinner, such as a horizontal flywheel, may not work for different spinners such as a vertical disc.
- The rules on entanglement devices are stringent, leading to the potential rejection of devices, or penalties for unapproved usage. Bulldog Breed was penalised in Series 7 for placing mesh underneath its flipper to protect its valves, which fell out during battle.
- An entanglement device used by a robot with a spinner of its own risks jamming their own weapon. As a preventative measure, Team Ballistix removed the straw hair from Donald Thump before battles due to concerns that it would get caught by the robot's bar spinner.
- Robots and weapons designed purely to entangle spinners, such as Skye, have little in the way of offensive output.
- Certain entanglement devices, such as the hair of Milly-Ann Bug, are flammable.
- The effectiveness of entanglement devices can be compromised by the durability of the mechanisms holding them. For example, the devices attached to Crackers could not entangle any spinners, as the metal its chains were attached to could be easily ripped away by vertical spinners, such as the discs of Aftershock and Big Nipper.
- Although the debris created by entanglement devices can hinder the movement of opponents, a similar threat is posed to the initial user of the device.
- "If someone uses entanglement against us and it doesn't work, then they'll be punished accordingly."
- — Dave Moulds in the Series 10 Grand Final
List of robots with entanglement devices
Robots are listed alphabetically. Robots from the US 1990s events are highlighted in purple.
|Robot||Series Appearances with Entanglement devices||Entanglement device||Image|
|4x4||Series 6||Applied cloth to the robot to snag the flywheel of Hypno-Disc, but could not entangle Barber-Ous 2. Was not disciplined for usage despite entangling devices being illegal at the time.|
|Cobra||Series 10||Thin wire hooks were hung from Cobra's lifting wedge ahead of its battle with the drum spinner of Sabretooth.|
|Crackers 'n' Smash||Series 10||Four chains were hung from Crackers, to be absorbed by vertical spinners.|
|Diotoir||Series 5||Although Diotoir's fur coat was largely decorative and was in most series not an entanglement device, slits were intentionally cut into its fur ahead of Diotoir's battle with Tornado, successfully snagging its opponent's drum. Diotoir had also previously entangled the blade of Pussycat in the Series 4 Celebrity Special.|
|Donald Thump||Series 10||Straw hair placed atop Donald Thump's top armour, to reference the blonde hair of Donald Trump. Unused on television out of the team's fear of jamming their own weapon.|
|Eruption||Series 10||In the World Series only, Eruption applied a metal hoop to its flipper in order to combat the bar spinner of Cathadh.|
|Evil Weevil||Series 3||Had strips of velcro on the armour, to snag chainsaws. Not used again in Series 4.|
|Gabriel 2||Series 10||Could use an interchangeable mace polearm with hanging ropes attached, to dangle the ropes in the direction of spinners.|
|Gemini||Series 4||For the Celebrity Special only, both halves sported decorative Kevlar hair under the captaincy of Anthea and Wendy Turner. Though not explicitly intended to function as an entanglement device, Jonathan Pearce commented on the hair's potential to 'mesh up' internals and rotating weapons during its Semi-Final against Diotoir.|
|Iron-Awe 6||Series 10||Had removable sets of 'entanglement cannons' mounted on either side of the robot's chassis, containing compressed air and debris, which is released upon contact with spinners. Interchangeable with a line of maces to use when the cannons could not be used.|
|Lightning Tracks||US Season 2||Equipped loose chains and ropes at the rear of the robot in an effort to entangle the spinning disc of Destructive Criticism.|
|Marvin||1996 Championship||Can be used as a flail, chains were added to entangle any spinner it would come across.|
|Milly-Ann Bug||Series 2, 4||Had Kevlar hair which was intended to snag chainsaws and other spinning weapons. The hair was not present in Series 3. First robot, in the TV show, to use an entanglement device.|
|Push to Exit||Series 10||Loose flails at the back of the robot, and fixed wires on the sides were both applied.|
|Rapid||Series 10||For its Grand Final Redemption battle against Carbide, Team RPD added a chain to Rapid's right-hand side, with the sole purpose of snagging the defending champion's bar spinner.|
|Satoru Special 3||1996 Championship||Used a net cannon and was one of three robots that were responsible for the banning of entaglement weaponry.|
|Snickers||1996 Championship||Snickers' primary weapon and plastic armour was a snagging device.|
|Snookums||Extreme Warriors Season 2||The sacrificial rear tail was used to entangle Medusa Oblongotta and Ninjitsu.|
|SPS3||1996 Championship||Used a series of nets and sponge balls as a way to entangle weapons. It was one of three robots responsible for the banning of entanglement weapons.|
|Terrorhurtz||Series 10||Two small chains were attached to the front wedge of Terrorhurtz during the 10 Robot Rumble to snag the drum spinners of Concussion and Sabretooth.|
|The Revolutionist||Nickelodeon||Ropes were added to the top of The Revolutionist to entangle the blade of Propeller-Head.|
|The Swarm||Series 10||One part of the clusterbot, Skye, was designed purely to combat spinners, featuring an 'overhead windmill structure' with six pieces of tyre surrounding the robot.|
|Thor||Series 10||For its Heat Final against Magnetar, several steel ropes were added to Thor's front end in an attempt to snag Magnetar's drum and damage its weapon belt. For the World Series, a pair of hoop-like attachments were added to the front, each featuring steel cables which succeeded in snagging Cathadh's bar spinner.|
|Trilobyte||US Season 2||Cloth and ropes were applied to Trilobyte, successfully jamming the drum of Mad Cow Bot.|
|Triple Redundancy||1996 Championship||Used tape that was attached to each clusterbot to wrap up the competition. It was one of three robots responsible for the banning of entanglement devices.|
- The Fur of Nemesis, Diotoir, Killerkat and Bee-Capitator had the ability to entangle spinners, but did not officially qualify as entanglement devices, as they were purely decorative by intention.
- The coil found in the centre of MouseTrap was also added only for aesthetic purposes, but briefly disabled the vertical spinner of S3 after its absorption.
- In Series 2 - as further explained in Robot Wars Revealed - GroundHog was equipped with an optional net attached beneath its main body by yellow straps within its legs. This was intended purely to allow the robot to handle the ball in the Football Trial, thus it would not have been used as an entanglement device in combat.
- Although a purely functional addition to the robot, essential to the use of its weaponry, the hydraulic cables of Eleven nevertheless entangled the spinner of 3 Stegs 2 Heaven and caused both robots to become locked together.
- The Robot Wars website claims that the hand-shaped lifter of HIGH-5 could entangle spinners, but this was not proven when given the opportunity.
- Destruct-A-Bubble intended to use a "hairnet" as an entanglement device, but this was illegal at the time, and could not use the hairnet.
- Bulldog Breed added a mesh for Series 7 as protection for its cylinders. During its first battle, the mesh fell out and ultimately sparked controversy, as it was perceived to be an entanglement device and illegal at the time. After the team explained what the mesh was for, they were given the benefit of the doubt, but had to remove it for the rest of the competition.