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Random Violence Technologies was a team which competed in Series 1-4 of Robot Wars. Consisting of members from Cambridge and Nottingham, they entered the main competition in those series with Mortis, one of the most technologically advanced robots to compete in the early series.

The TeamEdit

"My job is teaching and supervising students in the workshops at Cambridge University Engineering Department. Rob Knight and Chris Sorsby came in to use the machinery so I had to supervise them (they found out about RW in Bizarre Magazine). They asked me to join the team after a couple of days because of my engineering experience, plus my hobby, knife making."
— Arthur Chilcott, on the team's formation
Team photo 2

Random Violence Technologies with Mortis at BattleBots Season 2.0

Random Violence Technologies was formed by Cambridge University alumni Rob Knight and Chris Sorsby, who first heard about Robot Wars in Bizarre Magazine, and their engineering teacher, Arthur Chilcott, who they persuaded to join the team. They entered the first series with Mortis, which they developed over time for entry into the next three series thereafter. The initial plan was for Mortis to have two ice axes, but this proved impossible to achieve within the weight limit[1], so Chilcott designed the mechanism to drive a single axe, which was patented by the University of Cambridge.

Mortis took three months to build, with the team working seven days a week on the robot, and after Series 1, Mortis was upgraded over three months to get it ready for Series 2.[2] At the same time, Sorsby was replaced by Ben Impey, who in turn was replaced by PhD student Ben Gordon for Series 3. Gordon developed a brushless controller for the machine's upgraded drive and weapon systems, which was used for the robot's remaining appearances thereafter.[3] For Series 4, Paul Ford took Gordon's place as the team's third member.

"When they started to contact Mentorn regularly, it became apparent that they had become the "Cambridge University Team". While this wasn't really a problem to them, it did give the impression that Mortis was an official University entrant. This isn't really fair on the University, since it puts their reputation on the line."
— Mortis Website[4]

Mortis was introduced in Series 1 and 3 as coming from Cambridge University in Series 1, but despite the team members studying or working there and using the workshops, Mortis was not built as a school project, unlike Roadblock and T.R.A.C.I.E.. In Series 2, Mortis was credited as coming from Cambridge, and in Series 4 it was credited as being from "Nottingham and Cambridge".

"We were presented as a well funded Cambridge University team to beat and whilst we did have access to the workshops to build, I called hundreds of companies to blag all the components and materials - Yuasa gave us batteries, Westland Helicopters all the carbon fibre, and DU Glacier endless bearings, bless 'em. People just like robots it seems."
— Rob Knight[5]

Over the course of its appearances, Mortis became notable for its sophisticated technology and reportedly high cost. Despite incorporating many donated parts, it was claimed to have been made from £40,000 worth of raw materials and valued at £250,000 at various points during the original show's run. As a result, Mortis was highly-fancied by the producers to win in earlier series, but only achieved a mixed run of success; reaching the Semi-Finals of Series 2 and winning the Series 4 War of Independence, but being eliminated in the heats in all of its other appearances. Following Mortis' run in Series 4, the original robot was retired from Robot Wars, with Random Violence Technologies commencing work on a new version for Series 5. However, they did not finish the new version of Mortis, and decided not to enter any series after Series 4 due to work and life commitments.[6]


Philippa Forrester: "How seriously are you guys taking this?"
Rob Knight: "Err... probably a bit too seriously!"
Philippa Forrester: "A bit too seriously? Describe what you've done to this robot."
Rob Knight: "Erm, I think everything...."
Philippa Forrester: "Do you think you can win?"
Rob Knight: "I think we may have a chance, yeah."
— Rob Knight expresses confidence about Mortis' chances of winning Series 1

Especially in earlier series, Random Violence Technologies became notable for their reportedly competitive spirit, as well as their confidence in Mortis' weapons and winning potential. While these were often countered by the team's awareness of their robot's unreliability, and their willingness to attack the House Robots following combat victories and successful Gauntlet/Trial runs, the former aspects affected their perceived popularity during Mortis' televised appearances. The team - and Mortis itself - would also become involved some of the most controversial moments from the earliest series of Robot Wars.

In Series 1, Mortis lost its Heat Final against Recyclopse on a Judges' decision; its loss was met with applause from other roboteers in The Pits in support of Rex Garrod's machine. However, despite Mortis immobilising itself on the side bars and Recyclopse attempting to drive off it in the closing seconds, Random Violence Technologies vocally disagreed with the decision, believing that Mortis was more aggressive and mobile throughout the battle.

Chris Sorsby: "They're not working – we're working. We pushed them out, so we had all of the attacks, and we think we should have won."
Rob Knight: "We'll have a rematch. Rematch is fine by me."
— Random Violence Technologies voice their disagreement against Mortis' elimination from Series 1

While Mortis would eventually achieve vengeance against Recyclopse's successor, Cassius in the end-of-series special, Series 2 The Grudge Matches, Random Violence Technologies would become embroiled in more controversy in the main competition of their next series.

Seeded second in Series 2 and fancied to win the championship outright, Mortis won its Heat to reach the Semi-Finals in that series. However, its first Pinball run there ended prematurely when one of its tracks became damaged by an arena spike, leaving it immobilised on one side and unable to score any points. Subsequently, the producers decided to give Mortis a second run to compensate, allegedly because the arena spikes were not intended to be used for the Pinball Trial. Accepting that the spikes were an active hazard, and highlighted a weakness in Mortis's tracks[5], Knight objected to the producers' decision, insisting that a re-run would be unfair to the other competitors.

"Clearly it wasn't fair to be given another run so I refused to drive which caused a bit of a problem for the producers. Eventually we agreed to let Ben take the controls for pretty much the first time ever which is why Arfa and myself had a bit of a chuckle when he pitted out."
— Rob Knight[7]

Knight subsequently refused to drive Mortis for its Pinball re-run, handing the robot's controls over to Ben Impey. Under Impey's controls, Mortis qualified for the Semi-Final Arena stage at the expense of Napalm, allowing it to fight eventual Series 2 champion Panic Attack. In the end-of-series special, The Grudge Matches, Mortis' Pinball re-run was later implied to have been requested by Random Violence Technologies themselves, not the producers, resulting in the team and Mortis being somewhat disliked in later series.

"Mortis suffered damage, was given a second chance in the Trials by the adjudicators, and because of their decision and deliberation, Mortis went through..."
Jonathan Pearce's recap of Mortis' aborted Series 2 Pinball run

Alexander Cotterell (below) imitates the likeness of Arthur Chilcott prior to Mortis' battle against Ming

Throughout their appearances in Series 3, Mortis and Random Violence Technologies were jokingly booed by the audience and fellow roboteers, with Jonathan Pearce referring to the team as 'the students who fumed when eliminated controversially' while introducing Mortis in its Heat. Additionally, Andrew and Alexander Cotterell of Team Ming - Mortis' first-round opponents - parodied the team by respectively wearing a replica of Rob Knight's Hands-Free Operating System (see below) and a long white beard imitating that of Arthur Chilcott. Even after Mortis defeated Ming by turning it over, both Pearce and the audience enthusiastically cheered for the House Robots to pit it when it started fighting them.

"The audience want the end of Mortis... the audience loving this, the Pits loving this, and-and-and... I'm loving it too, Mortis, to be honest!"
— Jonathan Pearce as Mortis is attacked by the House Robots following its Series 3 victory against Ming

During Mortis' second-round battle in the same heat, numerous roboteers - including Chilcott - were also seen to cheer Gravedigger on as it fought - and eliminated - the latter.

Hands-Free Operating SystemEdit


Rob Knight demonstrates his Hands-Free Operating System in Series 3

"Is that over the top enough for you?"
— Arthur Chilcott as Random Violence Technologies demonstrate their Hands-Free Operating System to Philippa Forrester

For Series 3, Random Violence Technologies developed a Hands-Free Operating System, which Rob Knight used to control Mortis for the remainder of its appearances. The device was intended to save roboteers from having to hold their transmitters in their hands during battles, and was relatively simple in design and function. The Hands-Free Operating System is designed like a parachute, with two metal rods in place of a chute, each mounted in parallel. The rods open and close through the use of a pullcord; when fully opened, they are positioned either side of and pointing forwards relative to the wearer. The robot's transmitter is fitted to a tray-like structure, which can slide and lock onto the ends of both rods, providing a flat and stable surface in front of the operator in which the transmitter and tray can be rested upon. Since the operator no longer has to hold the transmitter in his/her hands, his/her forefingers and thumbs can be used to grasp and move the analogue sticks, as opposed to just pushing them around with his/her thumbs.

One possible benefit of this setup is relief from "Roboteer's Thumb," a painful sensation in the thumb's distal phalanx, caused by pushing the sticks with one's thumbs. In theory, the Hands-Free Operating System also allows roboteers greater precision and control over their robots' movements; however, it is unknown whether the device had any effect on Mortis' performances in Series 3-4. Nevertheless, the device demonstrated Random Violence Technologies' ingenuity, as well as Robot Wars' role in pioneering and developing new technologies.


  • Mortis (Series 1)
  • Mortis (Series 2)
  • Mortis (Series 3)
  • Mortis (Series 4)
  • The unfinished Series 5 version of Mortis, also known as Rigormortis (formerly Maelstrom)
Name Weight Class Series
Mortis Heavyweight Series 1-4


  • Wins: 13
  • Losses: 5

Series RecordEdit

Series Random Violence Technologies Series Record
The First Wars Heat Final with Mortis
The Second Wars Semi-Finals, Arena with Mortis
The Third Wars Heat, Round 2 with Mortis
The Fourth Wars Heat Final with Mortis
The Fifth Wars Did not enter
The Sixth Wars Did not enter
The Seventh Wars Did not enter
Series 8 Did not enter
Series 9 Did not enter
Series 10 Did not enter

Outside Robot WarsEdit

  • Mortis (BattleBots)
  • The Series 3/4 Mortis at an event in 2000, with Killerhurtz and Draven
  • Internals of the unfinished Series 5 Mortis/Maelstrom (later Rigormortis)
  • A walkerbot built by Rob Knight- this appeared at the Robot Roadshow, in 2002.
  • Mortis and Rigormortis on display
  • The Obwalden Overlord
  • The Obwalden Overlord with Rob Knight's new team

Random Violence Technologies also entered Mortis into two events from the original BattleBots - the 1999 Las Vegas event and Season 2.0 - reaching the quarter-finals and receiving the 'Most Aggressive Robot' award across the robot's appearances. They later planned to enter a future season with a new machine, Maelstrom, although they would ultimately not do so due to various commitments outside of robot combat. At least two versions of Maelstrom were known to be considered; a full-body spinner with translational drift capabilities[8], and a variant of the unfinished Series 5 Mortis with different armour and axes.[9]

Both variants of Mortis, along with Minotaur, were sold to Team Bud in 2009, with the unfinished Series 5 version subsequently being renamed Rigormortis. Presently, Mortis and Rigormortis are owned by Team Make Robotics, who reused the latter's weapons pod for their ABC BattleBots Season 1 entry, Radioactive.[10]

In 2016, Rob Knight returned to robotic combat when he and his team entered Season 2 of ABC's BattleBots with humanoid robot The Obwalden Overlord. Featuring a pair of articulated arms that would replicate Rob Knight's movements outside the BattleBox, The Obwalden Overlord was defeated in its first battle after getting crushed, set alight and toppled over by Team Razer's Warhead.

Team members Arthur Chilcott and Rob Knight have moved to and presently live in their own places in France. Arthur Chilcott is retired from engineering but is happy to give advice to roboteers and also made an appearance at the 2013 European Championships where he was judging the event alongside Stuart Barnwell and Andrew Marchant. Rob Knight now runs The Robot Studio, a robotics-orientated business that supplies robotic systems created for entertainment and research purposes.




  1. Private correspondence between User:VulcansHowl and Arthur Chilcott's Facebook page, 30th August 2017
  2. [1]
  3. Corrspondence between Rob Knight and User:VulcansHowl, 23rd February 2019.
  4. Team Mortis website - FAQ
  5. 5.0 5.1 Correspondence with User:VulcansHowl, 21st February 2019.
  6. Private correspondence between User:VulcansHowl and Arthur Chilcott's Facebook page, 30th August 2017
  7. Correspondence with User:VulcansHowl, 20th February 2019.
  8. Correspondence between User:VulcansHowl and Rob Knight, 28th February 2019.
  9. Private correspondence between User:VulcansHowl and Arthur Chilcott's Facebook page, 30th August 2017
  10. Private correspondence between User:VulcansHowl and Arthur Chilcott's Facebook page, 30th August 2017
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