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Student team chosen for Battlebots competition

Crimson Robotics team members work on a prototype robot.
Members of Crimson Robotics work on one of their prototype robots for the upcoming BattleBots competition.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the April 2020 BattleBots event was postponed. The taping will be re-scheduled for a later date. 

PULLMAN, Wash. — A Washington State University student team has been invited to compete in BattleBots, a popular television series that features remote-controlled robots in competitive battles.

The WSU team, Crimson Robotics, is one of 80 teams chosen to participate from hundreds of applicants worldwide. The program in its 10th season is featured on the Discovery Channel and Science Channel and can be viewed in 150 countries. The season starts filming on April 3 in Long Beach, California.

Led by Daniel Goto, a senior majoring in electrical engineering and materials science and engineering, the WSU team includes students from electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, English, and marketing.

Goto, a graduate of Tesla STEM High School originally from Sammamish, Washington, began the effort to make the BattleBots program in 2018. A lifelong fan of the TV series, he wanted to showcase and promote WSU’s engineering programs in a big way.

As an undergraduate, Goto said he is grateful for the mentorship and hands-on learning opportunities he’s had at WSU, such as participating in undergraduate research, studying abroad, and organizing hackathons. Last year, he received a prestigious national Goldwater Scholarship. He wanted to bring some positive attention to WSU.

“I wanted to really push myself and do the craziest, hardest thing I could imagine — starting a Battlebots team,” he said.

Preparing for the program provides great practice that engineering and computer science graduates, especially, will use in the workplace, ranging from computer programming, design, and 3D printing to project management. Robotics are increasingly used in a wide variety of fields, including medical, transportation, and entertainment. And, the program appeals to all ages, he added.

Members of WSU's Crimson Robotics Club
Crimson Robotics includes students from electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science, English, and marketing.

“For young kids, this is like the new Matchbox cars,” Goto said. “Destruction is sort of a universal language.”

Developing the materials for the Battlebots competition has been a great learning experience, he said. In recent months, the team has spent an average of 400 hours a week on the project. To be accepted into the competition, they developed two prototype robots and had to present on their marketability. They also had to prove that they had the skills to build what they have planned. As the team has worked to develop a robot that will do well, Goto has watched every episode of the program — sometimes frame by frame.

During the program, the group will participate in four, three-minute matches in which each robot works to destroy its competitor. The robots have to be advanced and powerful with the aim of damaging their opponents. The team is now building their first scale-sized robot for the event and, with support, hope to build two more before the event gets underway.

“We want to arrive there with everything we need to be as competitive as we can be,” Goto said. “In California, we want to show that our robot is strong and durable enough to survive, but also exciting to watch.”

“The students in our growing engineering and computer science programs have the chance to join in such transformative experiences while they are at WSU, including participation in undergraduate research, internships, entrepreneurship, and, of course, our active student clubs,” said Mary Rezac, dean of the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture. “Efforts like Crimson Robotics and the Battlebots competition give our students invaluable, real-world experience and help prepare them to meet the demand for engineers and computer scientists in high-tech industries throughout the state and nation. We’ll be cheering for them.”

Check out a short video on the Crimson Robotics Club:

Media contact:

  • Tina Hilding, communications director, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, 509‑335‑5095, thilding@wsu.edu

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