- "This incredible, ominous-looking robot hides a world of high-tech engineering"
- — Angela Scanlon
Rapid, often styled by the team as RAPID, was a heavyweight robot which competed in Series 9 and 10 of Robot Wars, a one-time Grand Finalist entered by design and manufacturing firm RPD International.
Rapid reached the second round of Series 9, but after being drawn against Aftershock at the beginning of the head-to-heads, it sustained terminal damage and forfeited from the competition. Rapid was much more successful in Series 10, reaching the Grand Final by throwing a robot out of the arena in all three battles leading up to it, setting the record for the quickest victory in the history of the show along the way, before succumbing to an explosive defeat at the hands of Carbide in the Robot Redemption Round.
- "Catch it if you can!"
- — Robot Wars: The Official Handbook
Rapid, which was built through heavy use of CNC, was a box-wedge shaped robot armoured in machined steel. This armour was highly reflective, consisting of dark chrome colouring in Series 9, and both gold colouring with some unpainted metal in Series 10. Polycarbonate also featured on the side of the machine in its second series to showcase the robot's internals. Rapid's weapon was a very broad 60-bar flipper with seven tonnes of force in its 120mm bore ram, which also served as the robot's self-righting mechanism. Rapid was driven by four wheels towards the back of its shell, providing a top speed of 23mph in Series 10 - increased from 17mph in Series 9. This helps provide Rapid with high pushing power: a key element of Rapid's design, which was showcased when it easily pushed Dead Metal on the show. The robot's inspiration came from the antweight tier of robot combat, in which Andy Hibberd is active. For Rapid's design, Hibberd scaled up his antweight robot Anticide by 1000x.
- "Rapid was a brand new competitor for Series 9 and stood out with its low profile and chrome paint. It has a flipper capable of lifting seven tonnes, five times more powerful than opponents, and cost £25,000 to build."
- — Robot Wars: Build Your Own Robot on Rapid in Series 9
According to the Robot Wars website, Rapid cost £25,000 to build at the time of Series 9. This could be explained by the CNC techniques made available by Josh Valman's company RPD International, and Rapid's use of top-of-the-line components, including a 10-cell 42V lithium polymer battery, and fan-cooled AmpFlow A28-400-F4 motors valued at £1,000. Rapid was reportedly capable of throwing a Transit van one metre into the air. The robot is weighted and shaped so that Rapid lands on its flipper when turned over, for ease of self-righting. This design also allows Rapid the chance to throw opponents out of the arena. In a modification made during the filming of Series 10, the top of Rapid's flipper was decorated with 'cat ears' to hold opposition robots on the face of the wedge. Rapid did however suffer from its flipper retracting fairly slowly after being fired. This led to the team only using their flipper in specific scenarios - usually near the arena wall - while otherwise relying on the robot's wedge shape for pushing robots into the arena hazards.
- "Rapid's full pressure flipper could potentially be too powerful, and do itself damage, and along with its extremely complex design, the armour on the top of the machine is susceptible to axes."
- — The Robot Wars website suggests weaknesses of Rapid
In Series 9, Rapid's flipper did not run flush to the floor, instead relying on small notches beside the flipper to breach ground clearances. This was altered for Series 10, where although the flipper was still raised from the floor, the flipper now had a sharpened metal blade. The sides surrounding the flipper were also made much wider, and were level with the floor, leading Team RPD to believe they possessed the lowest wedge in Robot Wars. However, Josh Valman referred to his robot as 'completely overengineered', and ultimately their forfeit from Series 9 was because of the inaccessibility of Rapid's parts during the repair process, and the time it would take to remanufacture essential parts.
- "Rapid is capable of flipping opponents high into the air, but its low ground clearance means it's susceptible to low-profile cluster bots."
- — Robot Wars: Build Your Own Robot poses an obscure weakness of Rapid in Series 10
The name Rapid refers in part to the high top speed of the machine, but primarily references the company which entered the machine into Robot Wars, RPD International. Team RPD occasionally styled their robot's name as "RAPID" on social media, and on the surface of the robot in Series 9, in line with the block-capitals nature of the business name.
- "Josh from Team Rapid is an entrepreneur on a very unique crusade. He's created possibly the world's toughest, most expensive robot, and if you can beat him, he'll give you a job!"
- — Dara Ó Briain
Team RPD, alternatively Team RAPID, were a London-based team which represented the design and manufacturing firm RPD International. 22-year old team captain Josh Valman was the founder of the business, and was involved with the build process of Rapid, also being the lead financer of the machine and providing the equipment used to create Rapid. Josh Valman used Robot Wars as a platform to hire talented engineers for his business, hiring Ellis Ware around the time of Series 9, and also openly entered Series 10 with the claim that he would hire those who defeated Rapid in the series. As a young multi-millionaire, many of the topics in interviews with John Valman revolved around the high cost of his machine and its manufacturing processes.
- "Josh Valman was a young entrepreneur, by the age of 15, he was earning £10,000 per week. He now owns his own engineering company, with an 8 figure valuation."
- — The Robot Wars website
Andy Hibberd, an electro-mechanical engineer at RPD International, was the driver of Rapid in all of its battles, and was also highly involved with the build process, having designed the antweight machine which inspired Rapid's design. Andy Hibberd would held to repair Rapid in-between battles, and would also captain Team RPD in competitions outside of Robot Wars, such as Robots Live! and This is Fighting Robots. Andy Hibberd's partner, Letitia Steer, was also a member of the team in Series 9 and 10, and was the only team member not to work for RPD International, instead working as a museum conservationist. According to the Robot Wars website, Letitia Steer was the team strategist.
- "Andy has won the Antweight World Series robot competition 11 times Andy and Letitia met at a fencing club, both representing the UK in fencing competitions."
- — The Robot Wars website
- Dara Ó Briain: "Does it have any weaknesses?"
- Josh Valman: "...it scratches quite easily!"
- — Team RPD in Series 9
As soon as activate was called, Rapid targeted the lightest machine in the arena, and launched Jellyfish into the air. Rapid required a few seconds to close its flipper, which prompted Terrorhurtz to pursue it. However, once the flipper had retracted, Rapid stormed under Jellyfish, and on a second charge, trapped it on top of the flipper, before backing it into the arena wall. Rapid lined Jellyfish up against the arena wall, where its next flip powerfully threw Jellyfish backwards. Team RPD then noticed that Nuts 2 was suffering from mobility issues, so Rapid clamped its open flipper onto the chains of Nuts, and dragged it towards Matilda, which threw Nuts 2 out of the arena with her flywheel. Rapid returned to Jellyfish, pushing it into an empty CPZ to throw it high once more, although Rapid then sustained a blow from Terrorhurtz. Rapid's flip had caused Jellyfish to lose fluent control, which lead to a countdown of Dave Lawrie's machine. In the remaining time, Rapid mostly fled from the pursuing Terrorhurtz. It failed to breach the axe bot's wedge, but cease was called and both robots qualified, with Rapid only sustaining minor damage to its wedge.
- Dara Ó Briain: "You got under some but didn't get under others..."
- Josh Valman: "Well it's a balance between getting it low enough and not getting caught on every screw at the bottom of the arena, so we've got to find that balance."
- — Post-battle chat on Rapid's ground clearance
- "If we go out of the competition, it's going to be our fault, I don't think it'll be the opponent."
- — Josh Valman in his rather prophetic VT
Rapid was not hesitant in its attack, and drove straight under the front ground clearance of Aftershock in the opening seconds, before driving it into the arena wall and flipping it high. This lead to Aftershock's disc crashing down onto the arena floor, which self-righted it. Despite its fast start, Rapid's flipper was still open. Aftershock hit it from underneath, and knocked Rapid towards Sir Killalot. Rapid was still mobile, but on another charge, it rode up the ground clearance of Aftershock, and was thrown over. Rapid attempted to self-right, but threw itself straight back onto its open flipper, and tumbled onto its back. Rapid's flipper would not close, leaving it unable to self-right, so it was counted out and defeated by knockout.
- "£25,000 worth of machinery, hours and hours of work ends up like that! Sympathy? None here!"
- — Jonathan Pearce
It was revealed after this battle that Aftershock had significantly bent the flipper arm, which required cutting in half and re-welding straight before its next fight against Terrorhurtz. While the team reassembled the robot, they discovered that its gearbox had also seized, with one of its wheels locking up and potentially rendering it unable to drive straight. As the repairs required an extra hour to complete, and were therefore impossible to make within the allotted time, Rapid was forced to forfeit its place in the remainder of the second round. Jellyfish was reinstated to fight Terrorhurtz in Rapid's place, with Team RPD offering Jellyfish their spare speed controller.
- "Something's got into the gearbox. Problem is, the gearbox is just too deep inside for us to fix that in time, so I think we're going to have to forfeit, gonna be too long to get back into the game."
- — Josh Valman
- "Rapid was a disappointment last series, with promises of enough power to flip a transit van 1m into the the air going unfulfilled due to technical issues causing them to withdraw from the competition. Team captain Josh may seem unassuming but he has the spirit of an inventor who refuses to take the word ‘no' for an answer. This machine is assured to take the fight to the real heavyweights of the competition and I look forward to seeing what it’s capable of in the arena."
- — Professor Sethu Vijayakumar
Rapid competed in Heat 3 of Series 10, where despite being relatively inexperienced competitors themselves, Team RPD proved to be the veteran competitors against newcomers Track-tion and Bucky the Robot in their first battle. The team introduced themselves by revealing to Dara Ó Briain that RPD International pledged to hire roboteers capable of defeating the newly improved Rapid, and that the competition was the best place to scout talent.
- Dara Ó Briain: "You are using this whole process to find talent?"
- Josh Valman: "Yeah, Robot Wars inspires engineering, it's how I got into engineering. The best people that we want to hire need to be better than everybody we know, so anyone that beats us, come and see us!"
- — RPD International's unique hiring process
Moments after the battle begun, Rapid headed straight for the Arena Tyre, which activated Fog of War. Rapid also pushed Bucky the Robot into Matilda during this period. As Fog of War was ending, Rapid was briefly caught by the arena spikes, but more pertinently the hazard also overturned Track-tion, leaving it vulnerable near the arena wall. Rapid capitalised by throwing Track-tion high over the arena wall and into the trench with its first flip, leaving Rapid to fight Bucky the Robot alone.
- "Rapid looks much better than when we last saw them, when they couldn't perform the repairs on their heavily armoured bot in the pits, and they had to pull out!"
- — Jonathan Pearce
Rapid pursued Bucky the Robot into two empty CPZ's, and slid underneath it. Eventually, Rapid managed to get good purchase on Bucky the Robot near the arena entry gate, and flipped it onto the wall. As Team RPD thought Bucky the Robot was pinned and immobile, Rapid held off until Bucky the Robot freed itself and returned to the battle. Rapid returned to the fleeing Bucky the Robot to catch it side-on and to parade it around the arena. After eventually dropping it in front of Matilda, Rapid then used its wedge shape to knock Bucky the Robot briefly off-balance. Rapid drove Bucky the Robot towards the trench again, but threw it backwards, and back onto its wheels - causing Rapid to flee for the next few moments until its flipper retracted. Rapid positioned Bucky the Robot on top of the arena spikes, where it was flipped over, and could not self-right. However, while Rapid spun in circles in the centre of the arena, time expired on the three-minute match before Bucky the Robot could be counted as immobilised, so the fight had to be sent to a Judges' decision.
- "Even though many of us know who won that fight, it has to go the Judges because you didn't immobilise them in time."
- — Dara Ó Briain to Josh Valman
Rapid had comfortably won the unanimous Judges' decision, and progressed to the Semi-Final, where it would once again face Track-tion, which had just defeated Apex. Josh Valman stated his disappointment that he could not have faced a new opponent, as Vulture was available to battle Rapid at this stage, which would have created a new matchup. Track-tion had been modified for the battle - removing its crushing claw to use Vulture's anti-spinner scoop.
- Dara Ó Briain: "If you win, you'll have beaten a load of twelve- and thirteen-year olds. If you lose, you'll have lost to a load of twelve- and thirteen-year olds. So it's kind of a no-win situation, really. What are you going to do?"
- Josh Valman: "I'm not sure, it's a shame, we wanted to fight someone else, and get some more test data."
- Dara Ó Briain: "Really? Why, would you not get test data from being in there?"
- Josh Valman: "Well we've fought them already! We'll see what happens, they're quite hard to get hold of."
- Dara Ó Briain: "They are, and they've got that big front end now."
- — Dara Ó Briain and Team RPD on the rematch with Track-tion
With Rapid and Track-tion loaded into the arena, Andy Hibberd noticed that Rapid was suffering from a leakage, and questioned whether to use the flipper early on in an attempt to end the battle straight away, or to fight without the use of its weapon. It was decided that Rapid would use the weaponry to end the fight quickly, and it managed to do so in record time. In the shortest battle in Robot Wars, Rapid easily drove under the front wedge of Track-tion, and flipped it straight over the arena wall behind the school team's machine - ending the fight in just 5.6 seconds.
- "Josh, Andy and Lettie knew they had a problem, they knew they had to go out and out for a quick victory!"
- — Jonathan Pearce
In the Heat Final, Rapid faced Robot Wars veteran Terrorhurtz for the second time in its career, for a place in the Grand Final. In preparation for its opponent's powerful axe, Team RPD applied a layer of HDPE to the top of their robot.
- Dara Ó Briain: "Two robots have earned their place in tonight's final, Rapid, the self-made millionaire with the best robot money can build!"
- Angela Scanlon: "Against Terrorhurtz, the Grand-daddy of Robot Wars, with that deadly axe. But only one can win!"
- — The presenters compare the old and new teams
Rapid started the quicker, and moved Terrorhurtz straight onto the floor flipper, turning it over. Rapid managed to capitalise on Terrorhurtz carrying out a self-righting manoeuvre by putting it straight back on the floor flipper for a follow-up attack - all the while preserving CO2 for Rapid's own weapon. Rapid drove itself under Terrorhurtz to prevent its self-righting, and pushed the flipped robot into an empty CPZ, but knocked its own HDPE loose while pressing against Terrorhurtz. Rapid still managed to drive Terrorhurtz into the grip of Dead Metal, and then back into an empty corner before its HDPE panel was fully axed away.
- "So far Rapid has been a little bit squeaky, leaky, sneaky in victory!"
- — Jonathan Pearce
When Terrorhurtz was freed, Rapid used its flipper for the first time in the battle to toss Terrorhurtz upwards, right in front of the arena wall, but did not throw its opponent out. Rapid returned to evasion tactics as it tried to close its flipper, before driving under Terrorhurtz to throw it across the arena, and into another wall. This time, Rapid was bumped into while trying to retract its weapon, but responded by using the floor flipper to turn Terrorhurtz over again, and then pushed Terrorhurtz into Dead Metal's CPZ. However, Rapid was the robot to be attacked by Dead Metal, sustaining a direct attack to its surface, also allowing Terrorhurtz to visibly damage the back end of Rapid which was formerly protected by HDPE, although Terrorhurtz's axe ceased shortly afterwards.
- "What a final this is! One moment, one's on top, then the other!"
- — Jonathan Pearce
Rapid continued to be attacked by Dead Metal even when pushing Terrorhurtz back into danger, but pushed the House Robot back in retaliation and held it over the flame pit for nearly ten seconds, before escaping for good. Rapid's opportunity presented itself at this stage, as it lined Terrorhurtz against the arena wall and launched it out of the arena. Rapid had qualified for the Grand Final, having flipped a robot out of the arena in all three of its battles.
- Dara Ó Briain: "You used this arena tactically, you fed them to the flipper, you fed them to the flipper again, you fed them to the House Robots, and you basically tried to manoeuvre them around. Again, a deliberate idea?"
- Josh Valman: "Yeah, yep, yeah I think so, we were quite lucky to get under the House Robots as well."
- Dara Ó Briain: "Absolutely, well I mean it was quite impressive actually, I have to say, and you're through to the Grand Final. I mean, are you going to keep these tactics up?"
- Josh Valman: "Well we might blow ourselves up yet, we've still got to find out!"
- — Team RPD's intentions for the final
Rapid moved slowly at the start, eventually moving in to attack Eruption - breaching its ground-clearance. Rapid turned away from a flip, but was hit by Magnetar, which had charged across the arena. Rapid was then thrown up into the air, landing on Magnetar's drum again before bouncing down next to the wall. Rapid self-righted with a powerful flip that saw it somersault twice before landing on its wheels, as the elastic holding the flipper back had snapped. Rapid escaped the CPZ, bouncing out of Dead Metal's claws, before trying to fight the other two competing robots again. Rapid wedged underneath Magnetar, and then Eruption, which fell off Rapid's flipper just as it fired the weapon, sending Rapid onto its back with the power of the flip. With no means of retracting the flipper, Rapid was stuck on its back.
Magnetar pushed Eruption towards Rapid, and the tiniest of touches was enough to tilt it back onto its wheels, albeit with the flipper wedged open. Rapid then backed onto the arena wall, which allowed the flipper to retract. Rapid tried to attack Eruption, but instead hit the dial of doom, which allowed Dead Metal to attack both Eruption and Rapid. Once free, Rapid drove at Eruption, but found itself flipped over. Rapid fired the flipper to self-right, but it landed face first with its flipper open. Unable to retract its flipper, Rapid was eliminated, along with the later-immobilised Magnetar.
In the Robot Redemption, Rapid faced reigning champion Carbide. The team replaced the broken elastic and attached an entanglement device for this fight.
Rapid skirted around Carbide, trying to avoid the spinner, before pushing below the champion and carrying it across the arena. Rapid deposited Carbide in a CPZ and backed away. Rapid took a couple of glancing blows from Carbide's weapon before Carbide drove onto Rapid's flipper. Rapid lined Carbide up for an out of the arena attempt, but narrowly missed. Carbide was left overturned by this attack. After being inverted, Carbide's bar was now at a height where it was more threatening to Rapid's armour, and Carbide turned into Rapid, removing a large chunk of its side-armour. Rapid managed to slide under Carbide again, but was thrown back by the spinner before it could flip. The attack resulted in Rapid's bulkhead and batteries being damaged, causing the robot itself to billow large amounts of smoke as it retreated.
- "Smokescreen, haven't seen that weapon before."
- — Professor Noel Sharkey as Rapid fills the arena with smoke
Rapid kept moving around the arena, despite the smoke, staying out of Carbide's way. Rapid eventually moved into a clearer area and was hit by Carbide's weapon again. Rapid stopped moving and the smoke texture changed from large quantities of thin smoke to thick, white smoke. Carbide hit Rapid a few more times at Team RPD's own request as 'cease' was called.
Some time after 'cease' was called, Rapid burst into flames completely, enveloping the whole robot in fire to the amusement of both teams. The charred remains of Rapid were therefore eliminated from the competition - nevertheless, Team RPD were satisfied with their dramatic exit from the competition.
- "Got any marshmallows?"
- — Dave Moulds as Rapid starts to burn
|RAPID - RESULTS|
|Series 9 - UK Championship|
Round 2, withdrew
|Heat 1, Group Battle||vs. Jellyfish, Nuts 2, Terrorhurtz||Qualified|
|Heat 1, Head-to-Heads||vs. Aftershock||Lost (0 points)|
|NOTE: After its first Head-to-Head, Rapid forfeited so Jellyfish was reinstated.|
|Series 10 - UK Championship|
Grand Final, Round 1
|Heat 3, Group Battle||vs. Bucky the Robot, Track-tion||Won|
|Heat 3, Semi-Final||vs. Track-tion||Won|
|Heat 3, Heat Final||vs. Terrorhurtz||Won|
|Grand Final, Group Battle||vs. Eruption, Magnetar||Lost|
|Grand Final, Robot Redemption||vs. Carbide||Lost|
- Wins: 4
- Losses: 3
|Series||Rapid Series Record|
|Series 1-7||Did not enter|
|Series 8||Did not enter|
|Series 9||Heat Round 2, Withdrew|
|Series 10||Grand Final, Round 1|
Outside Robot Wars
In September 2018, Rapid was repaired and competed at the Robots Live! event in Stevenage, its first appearance at a live event. There, it fought in the 2018 FRA UK Heavyweight Championship, reaching the first 'Redemption' round after losing an earlier battle. Fighting Behemoth, Apocalypse and Sandstorm for a place in the quarter-finals, Rapid performed well, but was eliminated from the championship after getting flipped over close to the wall and subsequently throwing itself out of the arena.
Josh Valman's first robot was a lower weight class competitor known as Shovit which fought Dave Lawrie's robot at what was their first event. Josh Valman has also designed a featherweight called ASTRO, armed with a flipper. It takes its design from Rapid, albeit with smaller front wheels and angled side panels.
Team driver Andy Hibberd first built an antweight named Anticide, armed with a powerful rear-hinged flipper. Anticide achieved great success, becoming a six-time Antweight World Series champion and finishing the 53rd AWS third overall. In 2011, it received an Honorable Mention in The Combat Robot Hall of Fame, in recognition of its combat record and 3D-printed chassis, and would eventual inspire Rapid's design. Andy Hibberd has also built a number of other robots in lower weight classes:
- Kwijebo, a shufflebot armed with a vertical drum, previously a vertical spinning disc.
- Nom Nom Nom, which was armed with a vertical spinner.
- Ickle, a fleaweight version of Kwijebo.
Under the name of Team Precision, Andy Hibberd and Letitia Steer entered the Chinese show This is Fighting Robots in 2018, follow-up to King of Bots. Their new heavyweight robot, Formula (originally Thrust), was modelled around a racecar, and was armed with a powerful flipper. It fought in the seventh episode, challenging 008 of Sa Beining's team in order to replace it as a competitor. Although Formula was heavily damaged by the spinner of 008, Formula threw 008 into the air and disabled one of its wheels, winning the battle by knockout. In the head-to-head round, it fought the King of Bots champion Spectre, and became the first robot to ever defeat it, using its superior wedge to breach the ground clearance of Spectre, eventually earning a win via KO once Spectre could not self-right. Formula then fought in a three-way battle against Greedy Snake and Blue, but a gas leak stopped Formula from using its weapon, and the battle was won by Blue. As Sa Beining lost the round overall, he was required to cut two of his three robots, and Formula was eliminated from the competition one round prior to the Top 8.
Andy Hibberd and Letitia Steer returned for King of Bots II, joining fellow RPD International colleague Ellis Ware to compete with The Hounds. This was a multibot consisting of two invertible drum spinners, driven by Hibberd and Ware. The Hounds impressed the celebrity captains at filming, and joined Zhu Zheng Ting's team for the competition.
- Two of the team members are employees at RPD International, the company owned by Josh Valman, hence the robot's name.
- As the £25,000 valuations of Storm 2 and Kan-Opener were spent across the entire competitive histories of those robots, spanning over a decade, Rapid is the most expensive robot to be purpose-built for a series of Robot Wars out of those with their total costs revealed publicly.
- Team RPD had a memorable 'hero shot' when they entered the arena in Series 9, as Josh Valman opened an umbrella in the face of the steam jets. This umbrella actually belonged to Tara Ware.
- Rapid is only the second robot to win a heat by throwing a robot out of the arena in all of its battles, after Atomic.
- Rapid is also the final robot to throw an opponent out of the arena in Robot Wars.
- Josh Valman indirectly swore on the show, claiming that Rapid's gold colour scheme was a "middle finger" in reference to the financial cost behind Rapid's creation.
- Team RAPID AMA, 9th November 2017
- RAPID Robotwars 2017 Facebook page
- Team RAPID on Twitter
- Rapid (Series 9) on the Robot Wars website
- Rapid (Series 10) on the Robot Wars website
- Haynes Manuals interview with Team RPD
- RPD International