- "Buck Off!"
- — Written on the rear of The Mule
The Mule was the original robot from Team Big Cheese, although Roger Plant was the sole roboteer behind controlling and construction of The Mule. Entered in Series 2 of Robot Wars, it lost at the Heat Final stage, but won the award for the Best Engineered Robot.
- "The Mule is 3-wheel drive. The front wheel steers through plus or minus 90 degrees so it can turn in its own length - the rear wheel speeds are electronically varied with the steering to provide full differential steering at all speeds and steering angles - forward and reverse."
- — Big Cheese Robot Company website
The Mule was a box-shaped robot with three "bucking legs", which were actually CO2-powered rams. It also featured a CO2-powered forklift that could lift up to 260lbs (150kg). It was powered by a 12v 25 ampere hour Hawker Energy Cyclon battery, supplied by sponsors Hawker Energy, and three Briggs and Stratton starter motors, which gave it 4 horse power electric drive. The wheels and motors were from second-hand lawnmowers. Sponsors David Brown and Fairchild Semiconductor provided the gearboxes and power Mosfets respectively. The Mule had three 225 amp mosfet 4 quadrant motor controllers, designed and built by Roger Plant, and had full solid state remote control using fibre optic links between the electronics and speed controllers to minimise interference. The armour was 1mm aluminium.
- "...undamaged by the House Robots or fire - they did try hard!"
- — Big Cheese Robot Company website on the armour
The robot used a unique split between red and green for its colour-scheme, with drawings of kicking mules. The artwork was supplied by AP Signs, Taunton.
The robot had variable height suspension, which allowed it to lift the chassis up and down, so The Mule could travel at full speed over rough ground. Roger Plant spent four months building The Mule, at a cost of £400.
- "There is actually an award in the series for the best engineered robot, this could be a leading contender."
- — Jonathan Pearce
The Mule pushed forward in the Gauntlet, but drove into Matilda. Matilda blocked it, raising her tusks and holding The Mule back. The Mule reversed for another charge, briefly getting caught on an arena spike. Matilda reversed down the course as the Sentinel swung over, but The Mule dodged around the Sentinel, and drove down the course. Matilda drove out of The Mule's way, allowing it complete the course.
- Craig Charles: "It looked like Matilda was scared of you there, didn't it?"
- Roger Plant: "I should think so too! I'll kick the ... wotsit out of Matilda!"
- Craig Charles: ""Kick the wotsit" will 'ya? Mind your language too, sir! Those legs, those kicky legs, how powerful are they, then?"
- Roger Plant: "Well they can chuck a Land Rover wheel about 20 feet!"
- Craig Charles: "Wow! No wonder Matilda got out of the way then, eh?"
- Roger Plant: "The Forklift'll turn her over, no problem."
- — Post-Gauntlet interview
The Mule completed the course in the fastest time, placing it first on the leaderboard.
- "The driving was a bit hairy, bit sensitive y'know, had too much hay this morning, he's a bit lively!"
- — Roger Plant to Philippa Forrester after the Gauntlet Run
The Mule was through to the Trial, which in this Heat was King of the Castle.
- "Roger Plant has spent three-and-a-half thousand hours undersea in a min-sub in the North Sea oil fields, he wants to stay afloat here!"
- — Jonathan Pearce at the start of The Mule's King of the Castle run
Dead Metal grabbed its front, whilst Sergeant Bash trapped it from behind, but The Mule pushed back and used its forklift to negate the blade of Dead Metal. Sergeant Bash used its saw on The Mule, but The Mule pushed it back with the legs, and Sergeant Bash kept its distance. Dead Metal could not push The Mule towards the edge, and The Mule pushed Dead Metal back.
- "I think this is a sturdy robot, that can go a long way in the wars!"
- — Jonathan Pearce towards the end of the run
The Mule lasted the full 30 seconds and moving through to the Arena stage.
- Craig Charles: "Well, well. You certainly gave them a run for their money, didn't you?"
- Roger Plant: "Yeah, getting used to this!"
- Craig Charles: "It's quite a powerful robot that, isn't it? You were pushing Dead Metal all the way."
- Roger Plant: "Yeah, yeah. Giving him a hard time there!"
- — Post-battle interview
It was drawn against Demon.
Both robots slowly moved towards each other, but neither could push the other back, so both robots reversed for another charge.
- "Early pressure from The Mule, early aggression from The Mule."
- — Jonathan Pearce
The Mule got its forklift under Demon and lifted it up a little, but as The Mule turned, Demon fell off the forklift. The Mule reversed away, driving over a flame pit into the PPZ. It quickly drove out and got at the side of Demon, pushing it towards the PPZ. Demon turned away, and after pushing it around, The Mule tried to get its forklift under Demon, but did not get the forks under its opponent. Demon got under The Mule, and slowly pushed it into the PPZ.
- "...which is trouble, because the House Robots come in for the duel, with The Mule!"
- — Jonathan Pearce
The Mule was caught by Sergeant Bash and Dead Metal, and Shunt pinned it against the wall and axed it. However, as the House Robots attacked The Mule, Demon had broken down, and Sir Killalot drove up the wedge. Cease was called, and the battle went to the judges, who went for The Mule.
- Roger Plant: "Mine stopped dead about the same time!"
- Craig Charles: "Yeah, but you were much more aggressive before that, weren't you?"
- Roger Plant: "If you say so, I was watching him, not me!"
- — Post-battle interview
In the Heat Final, The Mule fought the only veteran in the Heat, Plunderbird 2.
- Philippa Forrester: "Now, is it gonna kick?"
- Roger Plant: "Of course it's gonna kick! You know it!"
- Philippa Forrester: "How far is it gonna kick the Plunderbird team?"
- Roger Plant: "Off the ... off the stage! Into the pit, into oblivion!"
- Philippa Forrester: "Into orbit?"
- Roger Plant: "(Pause) I'll think on that."
- — Pre-battle interview
Both robots drove at each other, and Plunderbird 2's scoop got under The Mule, allowing Plunderbird 2 to push it up the arena. However, The Mule was able to get its forklift under Plunderbird 2's scoop, lifting it up and allowing itself to get free. It turned away and reversed at Plunderbird 2, then turned around and tried to get under Plunderbird 2's side. Plunderbird 2 prevented it from doing so by reversing, and The Mule reversed for another attack, but Plunderbird 2 got under The Mule, pushing it down the arena.
- "Digging in, out comes the leg to try and flick Plunderbird 2 away, he's doing all he can to survive."
- — Jonathan Pearce as The Mule is pushed
Plunderbird 2 reversed a little, and The Mule managed to turn around, get at Plunderbird 2's side and turn it into the PPZ. Shunt axed Plunderbird 2, but The Mule drove into Shunt as it was pushing against Plunderbird 2, allowing Plunderbird 2 to get out of the PPZ. The Mule reversed away from the House Robot, then drove up Plunderbird 2's wedge as Cease was called.
- "Very close, this!"
- — Jonathan Pearce
The Judges went for Plunderbird 2, putting them through to the Semi-Finals.
- Roger Plant: "Well, I kicked him quite a few times, and I hope you saw that! You wanted me too."
- Philippa Forrester: "I didn't see you kick him into the car park, though."
- Roger Plant: "He's a bit heavier than a Land Rover wheel!"
- — Post-battle interview, shown during the credits
At the end of the series, The Mule was awarded with the Best Engineered robot award.
|THE MULE - RESULTS|
|The Second Wars - UK Championship|
|Heat K, Gauntlet||Completed (1st)||Qualified|
|Heat K, Trial (King of the Castle)||Survived (3rd)||Qualified|
|Heat K, Arena Semi-Final||vs. Demon||Won|
|Heat K, Final||vs. Plunderbird 2||Lost|
- Wins: 1
- Losses: 1
NOTE: The Mule's successful Gauntlet and Trial runs are not included in the tally.
|Main Series||The Mule Series Record|
|The First Wars||Did not enter|
|The Second Wars||Heat Final|
|The Third Wars||Entered with The Big Cheese|
|The Fourth Wars||Entered with Wheely Big Cheese|
|The Fifth Wars||Entered with Wheely Big Cheese|
|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|
|Robot Wars Extreme||Appearances|
|Series 1||Entered with Wheely Big Cheese|
|Series 2||Did not enter|
- The Mule's weight listed on the show was 80.1 kg, nearly a kilo over the Heavyweight limit of the time. However, the Big Cheese Robot Company website lists The Mule's weight as 79.4 kg.