Parts Against Humanity On a Roll

This was a very exciting semester for our Junior Combots team, Parts Against Humanity! The team started off the Spring semester by finishing the assembly of Goose 2.0, the second iteration of our robot from Robobrawl 2023. The early assembly was in order to take Goose to the Norwalk Havoc Robot League, or NHRL, for their January 20th “New Bots” competition. This was a great opportunity for the team to test our robot against strong competition without having to face some of the best and most proven bots in the world.

At NHRL, we unveiled a new weapon assembly, a new wedge, and a mostly new (yet similar) chassis and armor setups. We also were able to paint our robot for the first time in our 2.5 years as a team. Additionally, Goose was given cleats on its wheels to get better traction on the wooden floor of the NHRL box. Although we felt very confident about Goose given its improvements after its strong performance at Robobrawl 2023, we ran into electronics issues and were forced to forfeit our first fight. The electronics issue ended up being minor, so it was unfortunate to have to forfeit a fight but we fortunately were still able to fight the next match. Unfortunately (again), our second opponent forfeited so we were yet again waiting for a good fight.

Our third fight at NHRL was to the eventual champion, Moccasin, built by Ricky Willems from Battlebots. This fight was everything we hoped for from NHRL, which was fair fights and good competition; we lasted the full three minutes in a pretty back and forth drive-heavy match, but lost in a judge’s decision. Moccasin went on to win the competition, so we were still pretty proud of how Goose performed. Additionally, thanks to the long match, we were able to figure out what was working and what wasn’t.

After NHRL, our team decided as a whole that pursuing a second robot, our hammer-saw design, would be a bit ambitious if we wanted to also improve Goose and compete with it at Robobrawl. As a result, we scrapped the hammer-saw and decided to spend all of our time, energy, and money on Goose.

Goose 3.0 is everything we wanted Goose 1.0 and 2.0 to be. The most major change was our new billeted weapon, which was what we envisioned Goose to have originally (but weren’t able to pursue because of budget). We also beefed up some of Goose’s UHMW armor, changed our front armor mounting yet again, and made some crazy long forks. This new Goose was (and is) a terrifying force of nature.

The new Goose was ready for Robobrawl 2024 earlier than we have ever been ready as a team, which we took as a good omen. Our first fight was completely dominated by Goose, who after multiple big shots with the new weapon won by knockout in 44 seconds. Our second fight followed suit as a one-sided win by knockout, this time in 35 seconds.

We started off the second day of the competition feeling very good about Goose, especially our driving and our new weapon. Our first fight of the day (third of the competition) was against Crack, belonging to our UIUC class of 2026 team. We were very excited for this fight to prove our superiority over the underclassmen and we did just that; Goose dominated throughout the fight due to its weapon landing big hit after big hit and its precise driving, winning by knocking Crack out of the arena in 50 seconds. Our fourth fight, a rematch of our Robobrawl 2023 fight against Caffeine addiction (our UIUC class of 2023 team), was another of our most anticipated fights because we had to prove our first win against them was deserved. This fight was our most dominant, ending in just 21 seconds by knocking Caffeine Addiction out of the arena with a huge hit.

As the only 4-0 robot, Goose was in the Robobrawl 2024 championship, and needed to win one fight (out of potentially two) to take home the trophy. The championship match was our second rematch against Caffeine Addiction, who we were 2-0 against at this point. This fight was our longest and toughest of the competition, lasting the full three minutes with heavy damage against both robots and tons of back-and-forth pushing. The match went to a judge’s decision, and Goose won! This marks two consecutive top-3 placements at Robobrawl, and the first win by a UIUC team since Robobrawl expanded beyond 8 teams.

As the Robobrawl 2024 champions, our team is very excited to compete more and more over the next year. Our first competition will be at NHRL on June 1, followed by perhaps some other competitions in the Fall and early Spring, capped off by Robobrawl 2025 – our last Robobrawl as UIUC Undergraduates. We have yet to decide what kind of robot(s) we will be bringing to Robobrawl 2025, but we are certain that they will be very exciting to watch.