A failsafe is an electrical component that automatically ceases the operation of a robot or other radio controlled vehicle when the radio signal from the transmitter is lost. Failsafes can either be a separate component or integrated into a speed controller or receiver.
- "On Middle and Heavyweight robots all operating circuits that are deemed to be 'dangerous' (normally the drive and weapons) must have an approved failsafe device fitted to each circuit."
- — Robot Wars Rulebook, 2003
Failsafes are seen as an essential safety feature for combat robots, preventing them from going out of control if signal is lost and potentially injuring someone. They were only a necessity for every competing roboteer in the later series, due to several accidents relating to out of control robots in the pits. The main driver for making failsafes compulsory was roboteer Rex Garrod who claimed that making all robots capable of failing safe would largely reduce the risk for any more accidents.
However, as the Robot Wars arena was a television studio, there were many sources of radio interference - cameras, power cables, lights, and the internal combustion engines fitted to many of the house robots. Consequently, radio signal was often difficult to maintain, and many teams - particularly in earlier series - had problems with their failsafes cutting in and making the robot stop unexpectedly under normal battle conditions, which was frequently a cause for complaint. The term "failsafe" was often misunderstood as a result to be anything which caused a robot to stop, most often the removable link, another required safety feature. (Unlike links, failsafes only stop the robot for the duration of signal loss, and do not immediately and permanently remove all power)
Failsafe devices or capability continue to be compulsory to be fitted to all robots in FRA competitions today, but are most commonly a feature of the transmitter and not a component within the robot.
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