- "Where there is harmony, may I bring discord. Where there is calm, may I induce fear. Where there is tranquility, may I summon chaos. Where there is order, may I wreak havoc. I am the necromancer and the rivet-lancer, the soul-taker and the circuit-breaker, the foe-fighter and the brain-biter. I am Haardvark... and you're toast."
- — "Haardvark's Mantra", a slogan on the machine
Haardvark was a robot which competed in Series 2 and 3 of Robot Wars. It reached the Semi-Finals of Series 2, losing to Cassius in the arena stage, but it broke down in the final seconds of the first round of Series 3, and was eliminated.
The team originally intended to update Haardvark and enter it into Series 4, but decided not to enter and build a new robot, Haardervark, which failed to qualify for Series 5 and 6.
- "It started off life as a wheelchair chassis, which is the bit you can still see here, painted brown. We built it out using aluminium section, for strength and lightness. Our main weapon is a pair of lifting forks driven by a motorcycle starter motor, in there, which is powered though a reduction gearbox, a 3000 to 1 reduction gearbox, just like that, which I've designed and have maded [sic] myself. The armour is 3mm thick aluminium plate, and that is the second line of defence. The first line is our sacrificial armour, which is very thin, and the interface and the gap between this and the thick stuff should stop any cutting discs getting through"
- — Owen Barwick describes the Series 2 Haardvark
Haardvark was a large box-shaped robot featuring an aluminium and steel double chassis made from scrap metal and a three-wheeled scooter. It was initially armoured with 3mm aluminium plate sections, along with sections of "sacrificial armour" to prevent it from being damaged by cutting discs. The Series 2 Haardvark was also painted light grey and decorated with various danger slogans and team graphics along its body, while its main weapon was a pair of lifting forks (referred to as a front scoop) driven by a motorcycle starter motor. Haardvark also featured a custom speed controller made by Mike Evans, and travelled at 15mph in Series 2.
- "The essential components - chassis and motors - of the robot Haardvark came from a scooter and wheel-chair. But Captain Mike Evans built his own proportional speed controller, which allowed a variable acceleration. The central chassis was strengthened with strip steel and aluminium beams and was strong enough to carry a 114-kilogram person. In fact, Haardvark boasts a double chassis (the second being built around the first), which is enormously strong and resilient. Added to this are two layers of aluminium plating (three around the rear of the robot), which makes the robot flame-proof"
- — The Robot Wars Technical Manual
The Series 2 Haardvark also originally featured a circular saw mounted on an arm made from Kevlar. However, the arm was removed before the series began as the team found that it pushed the robot over the weight limit. In spite of this, Haardvark's weight without the saw - 79.8kg - was still 0.4kg over the original Heavyweight limit.
- "Haardvark went through an extensive refit programme for Robot Wars Series 3, although we kept the internal chassis and basic shape (because we liked it). The rebuild started early in 1999, shortly after we saw ourselves on the telly. We completely stripped the original robot down to the steel inner chassis. ... The aluminium outer chassis was re-built with new aluminium sections, in the same manner as before, but stronger and better planned. ... The aluminium armour was replaced with 5mm thick polycarbonate ... Kevlar plate was strategically added to other parts of the armour as a backup material. The entire underside of the robot was plate aluminium - we forgot about armouring this bit before! ... The electronics had a make-over too. Since we’d designed & built our own, we thought it was time to make a proper printed circuit board for reliability. We uprated the switching relays, and bought four new motors so we won't have the problems we had last time."
- — The Haardvark website on the internal upgrades for Series 3
For Series 3, Haardvark underwent an extensive rebuild, with the chassis being rebuilt with aluminium instead of steel, the armour upgraded to 5mm thick polycarbonate with an inner layer of Kevlar, the forks re-profiled and made out of hardened steel, and the electronics and gearboxes receiving several improvements. In addition, the cutting saw arm was refitted and upgraded, now equipped with two interchangeable cutting discs - a reinforced abrasive grinding disc and a diamond-edged circular saw with a diameter of 12 inches. However, despite both being the two types of cutting disc originally considered eligible according to the team's website, the latter was not used, likely as a result of a general ban on hardened steel blades which resulted in Pussycat being disqualified at a later stage of Series 3.
- "The cutting arm was added at long last, and it had been re-designed to be much more powerful than it would have been in Series 2. The blade is interchangeable, so we could use either a reinforced abrasive disc, or a diamond edged saw (the only two types allowed in the competition). The lifting forks were made longer and stronger, and made of hardened steel (EN24), of the type used in Aerospace drive shafts. So everything in the robot from the previous year had been removed, replaced or re-worked, about the only original parts were the wheels and their gear boxes. The gear boxes for the weapons were strengthened (the gearbox on the forks last year is what caused them to become loose during the battle with Vercingetorix), and made lighter. However they were still extremely fiddly, and we wished we'd made the choice to go pneumatic."
- — The Haardvark website on adding a weapon for Series 3
The Series 3 Haardvark was also repainted black with the team's artwork, logo and mantra featured on the robot's armour, and cost £1,648.19 to build. At 80.2kg, it weighed 0.4kg more than the Series 2 incarnation, and 0.8kg over the original Heavyweight limit.
Haardvark's name was an obvious pun on Aardvark, and the word 'hard'. Haardvark's name was originally going to be "Armourdillo", but because the name had been 'taken by another robot', the team chose to call the robot Haardvark instead.
- "The reason we got into this mess was Owen's fault, since an offhand comment led him to commit to building a remote-controlled box on wheels. We applied to enter Robot Wars shortly after the end of the first series. He asked two of his colleagues at Lucas Aerospace to join the team - Mike and Liz. None of us had had anything to do with remote control before. Mike came the closest to that, as he is an electronics engineer; Owen and Liz are both mechanical engineers."
- — The Haardvark website on entering Robot Wars
Team Captain Owen Barwick decided to enter Robot Wars on the recommendation of his wife. Barwick formed the team with two colleagues from his workplace - Mike Evans and Liz Harrison. Owen Barwick build the chassis and weapons for Haardvark, whilst Mike Evans did the electronics.
Liz Harrison only appeared in Series 2, and in Series 3, Steve Farley joined the team. Steve Farley was a graphic artist, who did the art for Haardvark, as well as providing the armour. He had been a long-time friend of Mike Evans.
During Series 3, team member Mike Evans could not attend filming because he was in Australia, so the team brought along a cardboard cut-out of him.
- "Mike was there, in one form or another. Actually he was in Australia with his girlfriend for three weeks. Therefore we made a cardboard cut-out of him to get his face on telly again since he'd put so much work into the electronics. We even got his Robot Wars T-shirt and ID badge. Philippa was particularly pleased to see him, and seemed to prefer him in two dimensions. In fact, Mike got more air time than Owen or Steve!"
- — The Haardvark website on Mike Evan's absence
- "According to its stickers, its mission is to bludgeon, carve, destroy, disembowel, decapitate and violate, with a cutting disc and front scoop! It's nippy at 12mph, but its tag as a full-on annihilation unit could be a little on the large side Craig."
- — Jonathan Pearce introduces Haardvark
The Haardvark team came to filming full of concern, because before Haardvark went to the filming, the robot was not working, and it was only repaired on-site.
- "...we had managed to get the robot to move under remote control, but each time we did, after 20 seconds the circuitry would start smoking and all control would be lost. So we went to the filming with a non-functional robot..."
- — The Haardvark website
- "When I saw Haardvark they were busy working on it. Apparently during the preview roll out their robot reversed off a ledge and managed to injure one of the safety advisers, the only major accident of Robot Wars."
- — Oliver Steeples on Haardvark entering the arena
Nevertheless, Haardvark made its first appearance in the final Heat of Series 2, Heat L. In The Gauntlet, it took the left-hand route with The Sentinel, but its speed and manoeuvrability helped it to easily clear The Sentinel, driving straight past, but Dead Metal was also blocking the route, and quickly grabbed Haardvark and pushed it into the pit.
- "Oh well, that wasn't much "hard verk" for the House Robots, was it?"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Haardvark is pitted
However, it finished top of the leaderboard as it covered a respectable distance of 10.6m.
- "Not that bad considering that this was only the second time that Haardvark had moved under remote control! Another reason for our robot ending up there was that the control circuitry had burned out again."
- — The Haardvark website
The Haardvark team were almost forced to withdraw after this, due to the control board being broken whilst trying to fix, but the team were able to replace it with the servo used for the weapon, so they were not eliminated.
- "At this point we realised what the problem was - the left-hand motor was faulty and under high loads was shorting out and causing huge voltage spikes to pass through the delicate proportional control circuitry. Consequently the robot steered hard left when the circuits burned out, probably why the robot steered straight into the pit! So rather than replace the piece of blown circuitry, Mike decided to tackle the problem in a different way. Unfortunately in the process he blew up the rest of the control board by short-circuiting the robot's batteries through the main power relay. ... So all of a sudden we were out of the running, with a completely defunct control system, and not much time until the Trial ... As a quick-fix solution, Mike re-routed the signal from the lifting forks' servo so that now it controlled the motors. Now you may be thinking, "but the forks only go up and down!", and you'd be right. Therefore all we could do is convert the up/down signal into forwards/backwards. No steering. So we're up against Dead Metal, and we can only go forwards and backwards at full power."
- — The Haardvark website
Unusually, they started the trial with the robot facing away from Dead Metal, and reversing into it. It started well, Pushing strongly and very nearly forcing Dead Metal off the podium. However, Dead Metal turned, which allowed it to escape from Haardvark. Haardvark drove forwards for another attack, and when it reversed, Dead Metal span around, knocking Haardvark close to the edge. Due to the control problems, Haardvark could not drive away, so Dead Metal charged in and pushed it off the platform, falling off itself in the process. Haardvark lasted 17.9 seconds, which was enough to finish second and go through.
- "Wow, it's amazing! You do realize that our controller's been not terribly good, we had a big burn-out, so we only had forwards and backwards control on that, so we're thrilled we got through, and we took Dead Metal with us!"
- — Liz Harrison on their win in the Sumo
In the arena stage of the heat. In the Heat Semi-Final, Haardvark was placed up against fellow newcomer, yet also heat favourite, Vercingetorix.
- "Immediately after that round we set about adding steering to our 'new' control system. Compared to what we started with, we now had scrappy bits of wire connecting microswitches to relays, all held together by gaffer tape. All we could do for the first face-off, against Vercingetorix, was add one extra switching relay, so we could now control the left and right motors independently. However the motors were only running at half power. Fortunately for us, Vercingetorix was suffering from a serious interference problem."
- — The Haardvark website
At the start of the battle, Haardvark came in much quicker than its opponent, and pushed against Vercingetorix, which was making little movement. After this initial shove, there was no life from Vercingetorix, and it was repeatedly rammed by Haardvark. Haardvark had some problems with its forks, as they kept getting stuck in the floor. It turned around and pushed Vercingetorix in reverse, and Vercingetorix suddenly started moving again, only for it to drive into the PPZ, where it was axed by Shunt. With the help of Sir Killalot, Shunt pushed Vercingetorix onto the flame pit, before Sir Killalot plucked up the lifeless Vercingetorix and pitted it.
- "This was quite a relief for us, as Vercingetorix was by far the superior robot in design and function. But they had an Achilles Heel. During this battle the motor driving the lifting forks slipped off the gearbox. This meant that the forks kept digging into the ground whenever we tried to go forwards. A minor inconvenience - all we did was drive backwards. In the end it was a single loose bolt which caused that particular problem."
- — The Haardvark website
Haardvark was then through to the Heat Final, where it was placed up against another newcomer Havoc. Mike Evans declared that Haardvark's power would be increased for this battle, to increase its top speed. However, before the battle, the team were forced to borrow relays from other teams after burning out all of their own.
- "We had also run out of relays, because that faulty left-hand drive motor was burning these out at an astounding rate. We managed to borrow from some from the other teams, including Matilda. The House Robot guys weren't that bad! Before our battle with Havoc, we adapted Haardvark so that it would now drive forward at full power, but still at half power in reverse."
- — The Haardvark website
In the battle, the two robots charged forwards, but missed each other. Haardvark rammed Havoc, trying to push it towards the pit, but Havoc drove away. Havoc tried spinning on the spot to attack with its mace, but Haardvark simply drove into Havoc again, driving around it before pushing it towards the PPZ. Havoc drove away before it could be pushed in. The two robots clashed nearer the centre, but in charging at Havoc, Haardvark drove into the PPZ, and Matilda came in and lifted it, but Haardvark soon drove away. Haardvark again shoved Havoc, eventually pushing it into Shunt in the PPZ. After axing it for a while, Shunt overturned Havoc, leaving Haardvark as the Heat Winner.
- "So against all odds, Haardvark had made it into the semi-finals! We hadn't used our weapons, we'd had almost no practise, and we'd had plenty of problems!. Put it down to having an excellent electronics engineer on the team, decent driving and a healthy dose of good luck!"
- — The Haardvark website
Prior to the robot's appearance in Semi-Final 2, the Haardvark team's electronics engineer Mike Evans was called back to work, leaving it at a disadvantage from the start.
- "We've had another setback, our electronics engineer has had to go back to work, his manager won't let him have the day off, so we're down to the two of us now, which means that I get to take over the electronics side, so he's drawn me a little plan of what I've got to fit together to get the electronics working for the weapon, and I'm frantically trying to get it to work now!"
- — Liz Harrison
Haardvark itself scraped through the Gauntlet stage after only covering 2.4 metres. It attempted the centre route, but after breaking through the wall, it found its way was blocked by the sphere and Shunt. It tried to go back and pick another route, but it became stuck on the bricks. It managed to get free, but was chased by Matilda. It took the Sentinel route, but the Sentinel blocked it, and Matilda dragged it back, almost to the start. Ordinarily this distance would have eliminated Haardvark from the competition, but this was still enough to surpass Plunderbird 2's run of 0.9 metres.
Haardvark had an equally difficult run in the recently-introduced Pinball Trial. They started well, knocking over both sets of barrels and bricks at the top of the arena, before Sir Killalot came in, trapped it in the corner, lifted it up and turning it over. Having scored 160 points, they just managed to surpass G.B.H., who scored 145.
- Craig Charles: "Do you think you've done enough?"
- Owen Barwick: "Honestly, no!"
- — The team's lack of confidence before Craig Charles let them know the good news
In the Arena stage of the Semi-Final, Haardvark was placed up against the fifth seed Cassius, and there was a problem right from the start for Haardvark, as the machine was only able to go in reverse.
- "Back in the pits, and we were ten minutes away from getting the forks to work again, when we were called up to face our next opponent in battle - Cassius! The one robot we didn't want to meet. Haardvark was placed on the stage, and Owen did a quick check of the controls before the face-off started. Our robot wouldn't move forwards! It moved backwards fine, but still only at half power. Panic! No time to fix it, and by then we were rather fed up of messing with switches and relays anyway. It was going to be either a ten second fix, or a half-hour job. So we left it, turned Haardvark around, and prepared to drive backwards at Cassius, for all it was worth!"
- — The Haardvark website
In the battle, Cassius drove straight under Haardvark, flipping it on its side, then flipping it into the PPZ, knocking it back onto its wheels in the process. Haardvark fought back, but Cassius drove in again, ramming it into the PPZ, where Shunt axed Haardvark. Haardvark escaped, and the two met in the centre, with Haardvark pushing Cassius into Sir Killalot. Cassius was lifted by Sir Killalot, and this revealed that a drive chain had fallen off. Sir Killalot lifted both robots up together with its lance, but Cassius broke free, whereas Haardvark was caught on the lance. Sir Killalot carried Haardvark to the flame pit, and dropped it on the flame pit. Haardvark was stuck on its back and could not self-right, so it was eliminated.
- "We were at the far end of the arena, with Sir Killalot closing in, and we just managed to push Cassius into Sir Killalot, but because we could only drive in the one direction, we couldn't get away. So instead of Cassius being picked up by Killalot, it was Haardvark! (Not that it would have made much difference with the self-righting mechanism!) So in the end we were dumped unceremoniously by Killalot, upside down on the flame pit, and toasted. At least we went out in a blaze of glory! Actually, there was hardly any damage to our robot at all. The insides of Haardvark are completely flame-proof, and the only part severely burned was the cut-off switch which, because it must be external, didn't stand much of a chance. The only other problem was that one of the 9Kg batteries came out of its mounting and fell on the circuit boards when we were turned upside down. Even then it did no damage to any vital parts."
- — The Haardvark website
- "Hardy after the last wars, has hardened steel lifting forks, 5mm thick polycarbonate shell, uses two electric scooter motors, and cost exactly £1648.19 to build."
- — Jonathan Pearce introduces Haardvark.
Haardvark returned in The Third Wars as one of the competitors in Heat G. In its first-round battle, it used its abrasive grinding disc as its main armament against series newcomer Henry, though Mike Evans was absent from filming and replaced by a life-sized cut-out of his likeness.
- "If Haardvark rely on Mike for some sort of advice, they're in trouble."
- — Jonathan Pearce, on Mike Evans, who was unable to attend filming
Haardvark edged towards Henry, who was spinning around in circles at first, before attacking Haardvark head on. Haardvark used its circular saw, but caused little damage for Henry. Henry's front spike became wedged in the arena floor; Matilda set it free and Henry accelerated away, only for the front spike dug into the arena floor again. Shunt released Henry this time, which allowed it to retreat once more. Haardvark continued to chase Henry, which was spinning rather dangerously near the edge of the pit. Henry then reversed and slammed into the arena wall, which allowed Haardvark to bring its Dead Metal-esque saw arm into play, causing a bit of damage to the top of Henry.
- "They look the favourites though, don't they? The more penetrating, with that circular saw blade."
- — Jonathan Pearce on Haardvark at the start of the battle
Henry got away again. It looked like this would go to the judges, but then, with only a few seconds left, Haardvark broke down. The fight went to the judges, but Henry was given the win due to still being mobile. The judges decision was not seen or referenced when the show was aired.
- "The reason our robot was immobilised eight seconds before the end of the bout was because one of the drive motor fuses blew. What you didn't see in our fight with Henry was a whole 3 minutes and 15 seconds, during which we were hammering Henry into the ground! His team had a control problem which looked to us like interference, but they also had a very powerful hydraulic motor and wheels with incredible traction. So when it did occasionally move, Haardvark was having difficulty pushing it around. Henry's spike dug into the arena floor twice as well, and on those occasions, Haardvark set about Henry with the circular saw, since he couldn't be pushed out of the floor. But none of this was shown! Still, there's no justice in battle or war. Because Haardvark died so close to the end of the bout, and Haardvark had been so aggressive and done a good deal of damage, it went to a judges' decision (also not shown!). By default Henry won, and fair enough - that's the rules. Next year we'll put in bigger fuses! ... The forks were working as well, unlike in series two! They also survived unscathed, being made of aerospace-grade hardened steel as they are. Unfortunately though, the times when we were using the forks on Henry were not broadcast."
- — The Haardvark website
|HAARDVARK - RESULTS|
|The Second Wars - UK Championship|
|Heat L, Gauntlet||10.6m (1st)||Qualified|
|Heat L, Trial (Sumo)||17.9 Seconds (2nd)||Qualified|
|Heat L, Semi-Final||vs. Vercingetorix||Won|
|Heat L, Final||vs. Havoc||Won|
|Semi-Final 2, Gauntlet||2.4m (5th)||Qualified|
|Semi-Final 2, Trial (Pinball)||160 Points (4th)||Qualified|
|Semi-Final 2, Arena||vs. Cassius (5)||Lost|
|The Third Wars - UK Championship|
Heat, Round 1
|Heat G, Round 1||vs. Henry||Lost|
- Wins: 2
- Losses: 2
NOTE: Haardvark's successful Gauntlet and Trial runs are not included
|Series||Haardvark Series Record|
|The First Wars||Did not enter|
|The Second Wars||Semi-Finals, Arena|
|The Third Wars||Heat, Round 1|
|The Fourth Wars||Did not enter|
|The Fifth Wars||Failed to qualify with Haardervark|
|The Sixth Wars||Failed to qualify with Haardervark|
|The Seventh Wars||Did not enter|
|Series 8||Did not enter|
|Series 9||Did not enter|
|Series 10||Did not enter|
- Haardvark's Gauntlet run in the Series 2 Semi-Finals is the least distance covered by a robot that went past the Gauntlet stage.
- Haardvark was the last robot to be introduced in the main competition of the Second Wars and subsequently became the only "last robot" to win a heat.
- Owen Barwick's employers invested £1000 for the building on Haardvark, and donated more money for the upgrades for Series 3.
- The original Haardvark's armour was put on at 3am on the day of filming.
- "There is no armour on Haardvark because there was none to put on. It was put on later that night, at about 3am, and we had to get up at 6 to drive to London for the filming!"
- — The Haardvark website on the Series 2 Haardvark
- The Series 2 Haardvark was painted by the BBC visual effects department.
- Haardvark inadvertently caused one of the major accidents of the Second Wars, as during the preview roll out it reversed off a ledge and managed to injure one of the safety advisers.
- Robot Wars Technical Manual said the following about the team's experiences while filming Series 2:
- "The worst moment for the Haardvark team came when they tired [sic] to test the circuitry, and it immediately blew up. In fact, during the Wars, the team checked out of their hotel every morning, assuming that they would be knocked out that day! With a certain amount of embarrassment mixed with relief, they had to ask for their rooms back several times."
- — Robot Wars: Technical Manual
- Haardvark is one of two robots to come first in the Gauntlet without completing it, the other being All Torque.