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.
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 √3². However, WJ did invite his √3² 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 Jeroen van Lieverloo invited WJ Dijkstra and Alexander Russchen to reform the same Gravity team for Series 8 of Robot Wars as previously seen in Series 7, with WJ Dijkstra driving the robot. However, their application was unsuccessful.
Dutch Series 1
Dutch Series 2
- "I knew my weapon of choice was a flipper (why a flipper? Quickly disables an opponent without really destroying it)"
- — WJ Dijkstra
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, √3², 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 7
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 Wars
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 competed with the robot on the live circuit, and attempted to enter Series 8 with WJ Dijkstra.
|Project One||Heavyweight||Dutch Series 1|
|√3²||Heavyweight||Dutch Series 2|
|Gravity||Heavyweight||Dutch Series 2, UK Series 7|
- UK Wins: 5
- UK Losses: 2
- Dutch Wins: 4
- Dutch Losses: 4
|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 Series||WJ Dijkstra Series Record|
|Series 1||Heat, Round 1 with Project One|
|Series 2||Heat Final with Gravity|
Heat Final with √3²
- 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.
|First competitor robot to flip over Dead Metal|
|Only competitor robot to flip over Growler|
|Only competitor robot to flip over Cassius Chrome|
|Best competiting foreigner in the UK Championship|