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Willem Jacob "WJ" Dijkstra is a prominent roboteer from The Netherlands who competed in the UK and Dutch versions of Robot Wars. He is best known for Gravity, a series of robots with pneumatic flippers, the third version of which reached the top eight in Series 7. They were sequentially numbered 1-5, although during their televised appearances, they were simply referred to as Gravity.

TeamsEdit

WJ was the captain of Team Mad Science (also known as Mad Science Robotics or Team Madmen) and worked with fellow Dutch roboteer Greg Cathalina and Flemish roboteers Mario "Maddox" de Jongh and Babeth van Son to build and enter Project One into Dutch Series 1 (although Babeth did not appear on TV with Team Madmen because of the three team members limit, Team Flextreme accepted her as the third member, a practice not uncommon with the Dutch/Belgian roboteers).

Because it proved difficult for team members based in the Netherlands and Belgium to come together to work on building robots, the two parts of the team decided to work on separate projects for Dutch Series 2 (although the two parts of the team still came together to provide components for each other's new robots). As a result, WJ temporarily split from the other team members, electing to built the rest of his robots mostly on his own, including all versions of Gravity and Elevation, his third of the clusterbot √3. However, WJ did invite his √3 teammates, Jeroen van Lieverloo (Impact) and Alexander Russchen (ODT-Zero), to become part of his UK Series 7 entry, as neither van Lieverloo or Russchen had their own robots ready in time. He also sold a spot on his team for Dutch Series 2 on a public forum, which was won by Mark Nievelstein.

Despite Gravity having been sold on to Team Tie-Rip, Gravity's current owner invited WJ Dijkstra and Alexander Russchen to rejoin the Gravity team for Series 8 of Robot Wars, with Dijkstra driving the robot. However, their application was unsuccessful.

HistoryEdit

Dutch Series 1Edit

Team Mad Science initially entered Dutch Series 1 with Project One. Although favoured to win its heat, it broke down and lost in the first round to Blue.

Dutch Series 2Edit

"I knew my weapon of choice was a flipper (why a flipper? Quickly disables an opponent without really destroying it)"
— WJ Dijkstra[1]

WJ built two different robots for Dutch Series 2. His main project was Gravity 1, a simple box-wedge with a full-pressure flipper, which suffered from issues with a leaky hydraulic valve. WJ also built Elevation, one third of the three-part clusterbot, √3, which he drove during his role in the latter's team. Despite having just three weeks and no one to assist him, WJ completed both robots in time for Dutch Series 2. Both robots performed reasonably well, reaching the Heat Final stage in their respective heats.

After Dutch Robot Wars had finished, a robotics exhibition was held in The Netherlands, with many of the roboteers from the UK Robot Wars in attendance. One such person was Mike Lambert, who had brought along his robot Dantomkia, took it apart and showcased its internal workings. WJ built a new version of Gravity, based on the mechanics of Dantomkia, which competed in live events around The Netherlands as Gravity 2. WJ intended to use Gravity 2 in a prospective third series of Dutch Robot Wars, although this series would not be commissioned by BNN.

UK Series 7Edit

WJ stripped down Gravity 2, and converted it into Gravity 3, for entry into Robot Wars: The Seventh Wars. This version was the most successful of the two to compete in televised competition, featuring a powerful flipper with an innovative pneumatic system, and regularly capable of throwing opponents high into the air and out of the arena. Gravity 3 enjoyed considerable success in Series 7, defeating the seeded 13 Black and its inspiration Dantomkia to reach the second round of the Semi-Finals in that series. In addition, it also flipped Shunt, Dead Metal, Cassius Chrome and Growler, marking the only occasions where the latter two House Robots were flipped by a competitor during the show's history.

"In our episode, we were referred to as “the bad boys of Robot Wars” but the show did not air the reason for the nickname. Our first broadcast fight was a rumble where ... [Gravity] broke the arena side wall and threw Hydra onto a camera (which was the second one we broke…remember the V3 fight?) Apparently, a cease was called at that point. We honestly did not hear it and continued the fight. We flipped Thor OVER the Refbot and it got its axe stuck in the back of the house robot. Then a member of production stormed in our booth and yelled that we must stop! We really did not hear the “cease” but we were told we were in serious trouble and could face disqualification. We got a seemingly scripted safety speech from Derek Foxwell (the senior technical consultant) with the cameras rolling. Looking back at it, it was probably all for the benefit of the show."
— Jeroen van Lieverloo on the 'bad boys of Robot Wars' reputation

Post Robot WarsEdit

After Series 7, Dijkstra sold Gravity 3 to Marco van Hek of Team VHS Robots, and built a new version of Gravity - Gravity 4. Although it was not as powerful as it predecessor, it cost less to build and maintain, and was designed to meet the safety requirements imposed by the live events. This new version of Gravity was a basic box-wedge robot with a flipper arm, similar to Gravity 1, built in only 24 hours and featuring a body made out of wood. Gravity 4 was only used in two live events before being retired.

After that, Dijkstra built Gravity 4.5 from scratch; a black robot with a blue flipping arm and a design similar to that of Scraptosaur. It too had a very brief lifespan, appearing in just one event before Dijkstra began work on Gravity 5.

"...till now, Gravity 3 was definitely the best, but I think Gravity 5 will be better armoured and maybe even better balanced. If the buffertanks work like they should it might even be more powerful."
— WJ Dijkstra

The latest version of Gravity - Gravity 5.2 - has been sold to Team Tie-Rip, who currently compete with the robot on the live circuit, despite not being selected for the televised series.

RobotsEdit

Name Weight Class Series
Project One Heavyweight Dutch Series 1
√3 Heavyweight Dutch Series 2
Gravity Heavyweight Dutch Series 2, UK Series 7
  • Project One
  • √3
  • Gravity 1
  • Gravity 2 at a live event
  • Gravity 3
  • Gravity 3 after being sold to Team VHS and renamed Hades 2
  • Team VHS' Hades 2 now
  • Gravity 4
  • Gravity 4.5
  • Gravity 5.1 before being sold to Team Tie-Rip
  • Gravity after being sold to Team Tie-Rip
  • The rebuilt Gravity 5.2 at Guildford 2012
  • Hades Jr., the featherweight Hades

Wins/LossesEdit

  • UK Wins: 5
  • UK Losses: 2
  • Dutch Wins: 4
  • Dutch Losses: 4

Series RecordEdit

UK SeriesEdit

Series WJ Dijkstra Series Record
The First Wars Did not enter
The Second Wars Did not enter
The Third Wars Did not enter
The Fourth Wars Did not enter
The Fifth Wars Did not enter
The Sixth Wars Did not enter
The Seventh Wars Semi-Finals, Round 2 with Gravity
Series 8 Not selected with Gravity 5.5
Series 9 Did not enter
Series 10 Did not enter

Dutch SeriesEdit

Series WJ Dijkstra Series Record
Series 1 Heat, Round 1 with Project One
Series 2 Heat Final with Gravity
Heat Final with √3

TriviaEdit

  • In 2007, the third incarnation of WJ Dijkstra's Gravity received an Honorable Mention in The Combat Robot Hall of Fame, due to its powerful and influential flipper.[2]

HonoursEdit


Honour
First competitor robot to flip over Dead Metal
Honour
Only competitor robot to flip over Growler
Honour
Only competitor robot to flip over Cassius Chrome
Honour
Best competiting foreigner in the UK Championship


ReferencesEdit

  1. Gravity 2's robot diary on madscience.tk
  2. http://runamok.tech/hall_of_fame.html

External linksEdit

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