- "This unique robot with eight armed petals stands at one metre high. Ms Nightshade is the competition's tallest."
- — Angela Scanlon
Ms Nightshade was a robot which competed in Series 9 of Robot Wars. It was entered by two students from the University of Brighton, and was one of only a few robots to have an all-female team. In its only battle, Ms Nightshade was eliminated as it struggled for movement and was thrown up and over by reigning champions, Apollo.
- "Their robot is surrounded with pneumatic hammers to provide them with 360° defence, and when the petals are open it's over 2 metres wide!"
- — Jonathan Pearce introduces Ms Nightshade
Ms Nightshade featured a unique, tall conical-shaped body reminiscent of a nightshade flower (hence the name). Painted dark purple (two-tone purple in profile images), the robot featured six pneumatically-powered 'petals' around its surface, each with a spike mounted on top which allowed them to function as hammers/axes by firing downwards. Alternately, the 'petals' can act as a sit-and-spin weapon when fully opened and when Ms Nightshade is spinning. The team claimed that Ms Nightshade had the ability to climb out of the pit using its 'petals', and that it could not be flipped; however, the latter claim was spectacularly disproven in its only battle. Ms Nightshade was not only the tallest robot in Series 9, but also the widest, with a height of one metre and a width of two metres with the 'petals' fully extended. The bottom of the robot was decorated with two lines of LEDs.
Ms Nightshade was built very last minute, due to being accepted based on a paper application and because the university insisted on a wooden version being built first. It also meant that the robot was not fully assembled or tested when the show was broadcast. Although the show billed Ms Nightshade as weighing 96kg, it may have weighed as little as 75kg during filming.
The robot's name and design are inspired by the 'nightshades', a family of flowers notable for containing powerful and sometimes toxic alkaloids, with the title of 'Ms' added to the front of the name, to represent the all-female team who created Ms Nightshade.
Katie Henderson was a student of Ian Watts. She had enrolled in his robot combat module at the time Series 8 was announced, and when Series 9 was announced Watts was asked if he knew any aspiring engineers who could apply. Henderson took the opportunity to apply and was ultimately accepted. With teammate Jodie Nye and assisted by the university and Watts himself, the robot was built in six weeks.
- "As this will be their first time in the arena they have decided to play it safe and their tactics are to run away from their enemies."
- — The Robot Wars website
- Dara Ó Briain: "One of the joys of getting to the second series of this, is that the robots are getting weirder looking! Is it fast, is it mobile, is it...?"
- Katie Henderson: "Well, in all honesty, we haven't tested it with petals on, because we wanted it as a surprise to us!"
- — Team Ms Nightshade on their lack of testing
However, difficulty immediately struck, as one half of Ms Nightshade's drive had been disabled prior to the battle. As a result, Ms Nightshade started the battle by twitching on the spot as one of its petals hung outwards. Ms Nightshade then flailed away with its weapons as Coyote attempted to push it backwards, before being sent airborne - with its petals outstretched - by a flip from Apollo.
- "Oh, Ms Nightshade, they're in a bit of a flap - are they waving goodbye?"
- — Jonathan Pearce
Ms Nightshade landed on its side, and, unable to self-right, helplessly flicked its petals. Dead Metal then strewed Ms Nightshade around the arena floor as it was activated into Rogue House Robot mode. With Rusty also immobile, cease was called, and Ms Nightshade was eliminated at the first hurdle.
- Dara Ó Briain: "How have you enjoyed your journey?"
- Katie Henderson: "I loved it! It was the first time we tested the pneumatics and the petals coming out, and they worked really well."
- — Team Ms Nightshade bow out of Series 9 in high spirits
It was later confirmed that Ms Nightshade had been damaged while being loaded into the arena prior to its battle.
- "Katie tells me that during loading Nightshade onto the arena loading area, the robot was pushed (or shoved) along, against the direction of the wheels, to get it onto the arena before it was powered up, and this caused damage to one of the gearboxes. Reviewing the fight it can clearly be seen that one motor wasn’t working from the start and from that, Nightshade’s fight was over before it began."
- — Charles Hoile
|MS NIGHTSHADE - RESULTS|
|Series 9 - UK Championship|
|Heat 5, Group Battle||vs. Apollo, Coyote, Rusty||Eliminated|
- Wins: 0
- Losses: 1
|Series||Ms Nightshade Series Record|
|Series 1-7||Did not enter|
|Series 8||Did not enter|
|Series 9||Heat, Round 1|
|Series 10||Did not enter|
Outside Robot Wars
- Ms Nightshade was first unofficially revealed on December 3rd, 2016, through a tweet from Professor Noel Sharkey, who was supporting the presence of female engineers on the team.
- Ms Nightshade and Jellyfish were the final two robots to use lead acid batteries as a power source on Robot Wars.
- https://slick.productions/2017/04/28/nightshade/ Ms Nightshade write up, by Charles Hoile