The Series 8-10 Robot Wars Arena was the sixth incarnation of the Robot Wars Arena, used for the three rebooted series of Robot Wars. The arena was designed by Robo Challenge and custom-built at a previously unused warehouse in Westway Park, Renfrew, in Glasgow, making this arena the first to to be located outside of England. The wooden painted flooring of old was replaced with 6mm steel panels, with most of the arena wall sections now featuring taller 'bulletproof glass' (polycarbonate) screens to reduce the likelihood of competitors getting thrown out of the arena.
The arena was encased in a 20x20m square polycarbonate enclosure, with the main battle zone comprising of a 15x15m space with 6mm steel floor panels and steel walls taller than those in previous series. The outer enclosure included a 7m-high roof, which, according to Robot Wars: The Official Handbook, was suspended from large cranes enabling ease of maintenance in between battles. The main wall sections and entry gates were slightly taller than in previous arena incarnations, with the bulletproof panels forming part of the more angled sections located around the corner (CPZ) boundaries.
Three hydraulically-operated entry gates were placed between the left, right and rear wall sections, the former two enabling competitor robots to be brought and placed inside the arena prior to activation. These were also used for robot introductions in Series 8 and Series 9, along with accompanying 'hero shots' used in publications and on the official Robot Wars website. The rear gate was used exclusively by the House Robots, with sequences being filmed showing them using this gate to drive into the arena for battles. All three gates were the only places where the bulletproof screens were absent, thus being the only places where robots could usually throw another out of the arena. An exception to this occured in Series 10, where Apollo was able to launch one of The Swarm's clusterbot segments over one of the bulletproof screens during its Group Battle in the first heat.
In Series 8 only, a similar section along the fourth wall holding the pit release button (later renamed the Arena Tyre) also existed, which was covered up by the Dial of Doom in Series 9-10 (see Hazards). Around the arena was The Trench (collectively The Trenches), an empty space between the inner and outer walls which acted as a designated flip-out zone. Beyond this were rows of seating for the live audience, with a capacity of up to 400 people.
Two control booths, now alternatively referred to as Control Rooms or Viewing Towers, were located behind the front wall, each shielded with bulletproof panels and raised 2.5m above the arena floor. As before, teams controlled their robots from inside each control room, however unlike in previous series, both hosts (Angela Scanlon and Dara Ó Briain) were also able to perform interviews there in Series 8-9 instead of the now-abandoned central booth/balcony. Occasionally, Scanlon and Ó Briain could also be seen watching and reacting to battles whenever the left control room was made vacant, a practice made more visually prominent throughout Series 10. The latter series also saw post-battle interviews adopt more varied backdrops, including the main arena and areas within The Pits, somewhat deemphasising this aspect of the control rooms' purpose.
In Series 9, the arena floor was given a minor repaint, with more black markings painted on, as well as revised lighting which was further altered for Series 10.
The following hazards appeared within the Series 8-10 arena, many of which were carried over from the original series:
- The Corner Patrol Zones (CPZs) remained in each of the arena corners, patrolled by either Shunt, Dead Metal, Matilda, or Sir Killalot. Unlike previous series, only one House Robot would be seen in the arena in Group Battles throughout the main series, and two in almost every round thereafter. The inner edges of each CPZ were marked in black outlines, the perimeter and walls featuring red and black hazard stripes not too dissimilar to the markings of the early Series 2 PPZ.
- The Pit of Oblivion appeared once again, activated by the pit release button on the wall in between the competitors' control rooms. Outlined by a red border, the square-shaped panel was also larger and descended much quicker than before, heightening the risk of instantaneous elimination once the button had been pressed. A camera was installed within which was frequently used to show defeated robots as soon they had been pitted.
In Series 8, the pit did not produce a plume of smoke or pyrotechnics whenever a robot fell in; in Series 9, smoke started as soon as the pit was opened. In Series 10, a plume of smoke erupted from the pit whenever a competitor fell in, as was the case in the original series.
- In Series 9-10, the pit release button, by then renamed the Arena Tyre, also activated the Dial of Doom, an arm which moves to the left to lower the pit, or to the right to enable 'Rogue House Robot'. Once activated, the latter mode enabled the House Robots to leave their CPZs and attack mobile competitors for up to ten seconds.
- A third Dial of Doom hazard, Fog of War, was introduced in Series 10. Once activated, this setting caused large jets of CO2 to fill various parts of the arena for approximately ten seconds, forming a dense 'fog' which temporarily obscured the view of competing roboteers. The 'Fog of War' hazard was originally planned to be introduced in Series 9 along with 'Rogue House Robot', but was not implemented for that series.
- The Floor Flipper, again outlined by red borders, was now positioned diagonally across the arena floor. Its new placement meant that it was aimed directly towards the pit, while the pneumatics system was capable of throwing 110kg heavyweights with roughly the same power as it did in Series 7. Unlike the original series, the hazard also fired on mobile robots during fights instead of solely being used to throw defeated competitors after they had become immobilised. This elevated the Floor Flipper's presence significantly throughout the reboot, making it especially hazardous for robots with limited self-righting capabilities.
For Series 8 only, a camera was placed under the flipper panel to provide additional, albeit generally unclear footage.
- The Flame Pit was now placed directly opposite the pit and was enlarged along with the other hazards. It was once again outlined by a red border and had the capacity to trap robots with low ground clearances, in a similar manner to the Series 1 grilles.
- The Arena Spikes appeared for the first time since Series 3, with a set of five being clearly marked on the floor inside a red square-shaped area. Initially, they were fired individually and travelled higher, but much slower than in previous series, with the original intention of lifting competitors off the arena floor and leaving them incapacitated for a few seconds. Between the spikes were small holes for pyrotechnics which produce large jets of sparks if a robot was lifted by one (Series 8) or drove over the marked area (Series 10).
From Series 9 onwards, the spikes all fired simultaneously and reverted to a fast-acting motion, allowing them to trap, snag or flip competitors over as soon as they drove over them. In Series 10 only, four spikes fired, the middle spike having been removed. The Series 9-10 iteration of this hazard did not always have all spikes rise up at once; in one instance during the 3rd Place Playoff between Sabretooth and The Swarm, a few of these fired with sufficient force for the actual spikes to be unintentionally launched upwards onto the arena floor.
Changes from the Previous Series
- The change in colour scheme and paint design from grey, red, yellow and black with blue lighting, to grey, red, black and orange with red, blue, purple, turquoise, green, white, yellow and grey lighting.
- More dramatic lighting sequences, e.g., in the beginning/ending countdowns and whenever the pit release button was pressed.
- A change in dimensions and shape - the floor plan was now made a square, contrasting the rectangular arenas of the previous series.
- Revised control booths, now larger, lower and referred to as Control Rooms/Viewing Towers.
- The central booth present in the Series 5-7 arena was discarded, with interviews taking place in the control rooms and inside the arena.
- The robot entrance gates were now located on the side and rear walls, making them the only areas in which robots could generally be flipped out.
- Heavier use of strobe lighting effects for the arena hazards and perimeter, though this was gradually scaled back and altered for Series 9-10.
- Enlarged pit and Flame Pit.
- The Floor Flipper was now set diagonally and fired on mobile competitors during battles.
- The return of the floor-based Arena Spikes, albeit more clearly marked.
- Heightened arena walls and introduction of polycarbonate screens on top of most of the walls.
- Removal of the angle grinders.
- Removal of the Drop Zone.
- Removal of pyrotechnics/smoke from the Pit of Oblivion (Series 8 only).
- The pit release button (Arena Tyre) was changed from a tyre to a full unmarked wheel, with the wheel itself mounted on a more secure button mechanism.
- The siren used for when the pit descended in previous series was replaced with a new electronic alarm sound effect.
- Alternatively-shaped Corner Patrol Zones (CPZs).
- Additional sound effects in battles, for example a buzzer heard after 'Activate!' is called (Series 8, Battle of the Stars), and an air horn signaling the end of each battle (Series 8-10).
- The flip-out zone behind the walls/entry gates was officially referred to as The Trenches.
- Introduction of the Dial of Doom (Series 9-10) along with Rogue House Robot and Fog of War (Series 10 only) modes for the Arena Tyre.
During filming of Series 8, which took place in March 2016, there were a few cases where competitors with pneumatic weapon systems were adversely affected by cold weather. The low temperatures of the studio limited the ability of the stored liquid CO2 to vaporise - a condition which is required for some valves in order not to freeze the components with liquid CO2 . This restricted vaporisation of the CO2, thus limiting the flow rate and ultimately the effectiveness of the weapons systems.
- Q: "How many times can Apollo flip before it runs out of gas?"
- A: "Apollo usual has around 10 to 15 full power flips, and then they will gradually get less powerful. However the studio and arena for the filming was very cold, this means the gas moves a lot slower around the system. Meaning the flipper runs with less power. So this series of Robot Wars doesn't show the full potential of Apollo’s flipper. If we were to run in a warmer environment the flipper power would improve almost double."
- — Q&A with Team MAD's Dave Young.
Series 9 was filmed in December 2016, with further concerns being raised beforehand regarding how cold weather would affect certain competitors. To combat this, competitors were allowed to place their CO2 bottles in a heated room prior to battles. Series 10 was filmed in May 2017, somewhat remedying the issue.
Appearances in Merchandise
- According to Robot Wars: The Official Handbook, this incarnation of the arena used 6 tonnes of polycarbonate for the roof and 16.5 tonnes of steel for the floor panels. A total of 27,864 screws and 18,547 bolts were used throughout the entire construction process.
- For Series 10 only, a set of tall railings were applied to either side of the arena entrances, which disrupted some out-of-the-arena flips. These were a safety measure implemented after roboteer Ian Botwright fell from the arena entrance into the lower 'trench' area during Series 9. This is also believed to be the reason 'hero shots' were not filmed for Series 10.Citation?
- Robot Wars: The Official Handbook, p.15
- Robot Wars: The Official Handbook, pp.16-17
- Robot Wars: The Official Handbook, p.17
- BBC Media Centre press release on Series 9, Episode 1
- Robot Wars: The Official Handbook, p.16