Robot Wars Wiki

GroundHog (occasionally The GroundHog) was Team Firestorm's original entry for Series 2 of Robot Wars. GroundHog was beaten in its only arena battle, but the team would return next series with the wildly successful Firestorm.


"The original plan was to have a robot which we could build simply for the least amount of money. Basically we wanted a rectangular cuboid steel chassis with a wheel at each corner, covered with steel plate. After thinking about this design we decided to go for something more ambitious, partially because we were worried about ground clearance (a very large number of robots in RWUK'97 were getting stuck on objects in the arena due to very little ground clearance) and Mentorn had written to all the entrants saying that the more exciting your robot was the more chance it would have of being on the TV. To solve the ground clearance problem we decided to add legs to our cuboid to raise it up off the ground. This would have the problem that it would make the robot much more unstable, and therefore more likely to be tipped over. To solve this the robot must be able to raise and lower itself, and if neccessary work upside-down. AND THUS the GroundHog was born..."
— GroundHog website on the design of Groundhog[1]

GroundHog in the gauntlet

GroundHog in the arena

It was a basic box-shaped robot, but with four wheels on the end of four protruding legs, which could raise the body up and down, allowing for a very high ground clearance in obstacle-based events. Each wheel was powered by a cordless drill motor, and driven by a gearbox from an angle grinder. The rear wheels were unique "omniwheels," tyres embedded with rubber rollers that allowed them to skid sideways. This type of wheel would later be used by Razer, and most ambitiously by Sweeney Todd. Its weapon was a 12' horizontal cutting disc at the front of the robot, powered by another cordless drill motor. and took 6 weeks to build, costing around £450.

"The wheels took about 20 hours to make (hours of fun with a hacksaw trying to cut 48 pieces of silver steel to exactly the same size). A patent has been applied for through Black and Decker under the title re-inventing the wheel."
— Alex Mordue on patenting the robot's unique wheels[2]

The Team[]

Main article: Team Firestorm

GroundHog was built by Team RFM[3], made up of two 19-year old Durham University students, Graham Bone and Alex Mordue. The team went on to become more famous for their second robot, three-time Robot Wars Grand Finalist Firestorm.


GroundHog with standard wheels

"The first thing Graham was asked when he took the robot down to London for weighing in, etc. was "Does it walk?". Sorry to disappoint everyone but it doesn't. Walking robots look really cool but in most cases they are no match for their wheeled counterpart."
— Alex Mordue on the resemblance to walking robots[4]

The build of GroundHog started in June 1998, and was finished in one month before attending the Second Wars auditions in July 1998. The producers quizzed if GroundHog was a walking robot, which was not the case but GroundHog was nevertheless selected to compete in Series 2.

Robot History[]

Series 2[]

Sir Killalot topples while holding GroundHog

GroundHog survived the Gauntlet, despite moving very little. It took the central route, but it got caught on the ramp, and was unable to move. Sir Killalot came over, picked it up with its hydraulic claw and lifted it into the air, prompting booing from the audience. However, as it tried to move forward, GroundHog's weight overbalanced Sir Killalot, and pulled it over, immobilising both robots and causing Sir Killalot to leak hydraulic fluid.

"And they're going nowhere, as Killalot comes in! Oh, he plucks Groundhog up so effortlessly. Turns and twists, ready for the kill - no! They've killed Killalot! He's been dragged to the ground!"
Jonathan Pearce as Sir Killalot topples

In the Football Trial, GroundHog's long-legged shape made it difficult to handle the ball and generally had little impact early on, mostly trying to deflect the ball away as Cassius and Loco scored their goals first. However, after that, it didn't get a chance to score as the match degenerated into utter confusion, eventually ending with the ball set on fire by Sergeant Bash and all three remaining competitors immobilised by the House Robots- GroundHog falling last after Matilda rammed it from the side and flipped it over against the arena wall. Despite not scoring a goal, GroundHog still went through after Sting was deemed to have been immobilised first.

The two machines lock horns

GroundHog clashes with Loco

However, it was then defeated by Loco in the Arena Semi-Finals- Loco was easily able to push it around due to the lack of pushing power provided by its long legs, and was shunted into the Perimeter Patrol Zone, where it was attacked by the House Robots. After taking punishment from Shunt and Dead Metal, it was pushed onto Matilda's tusks, allowing her to lift GroundHog up and shove two of its legs over the edge of the Pit. Its long legs caused it to overbalance and roll in sideways, landing upside-down in the Pit and ending its run in the competition.


Series 2
The Second Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Arena Semi-Final
Heat H, Gauntlet 4.4m (5th) Qualified
Heat H, Trial (Football) Still Active (3rd) Qualified
Heat H, Semi-Final vs. Loco Lost


  • Wins: 0
  • Losses: 1

NOTE: GroundHog's successful Gauntlet and Trial runs are not included

Series Record[]

Main Series GroundHog Series Record
The First Wars Did not enter
The Second Wars Heat, Arena Semi-Final
The Third Wars Entered with Fire Storm
The Fourth Wars Entered with Firestorm 2
The Fifth Wars Entered with Firestorm 3
The Sixth Wars Entered with Firestorm 4
The Seventh Wars Entered with Firestorm 5
Series 8 Did not enter
Series 9 Did not enter
Series 10 Did not enter
Robot Wars Extreme Appearances
Series 1 Entered with Firestorm 3
Series 2 Entered with Firestorm 4

Outside Robot Wars[]

There were plans for GroundHog to compete in a live event in February 1999 between the Second and Third Wars, although the event ultimately never went ahead[5]. GroundHog remained in working order after Series 2, but it was fully retired.


  • If GroundHog had been placed against Cassius in the Arena stage, then Team Firestorm would have gone on to fight every robot or team who came 2nd in the main competition before Series 8.

External Links[]