A flurry of pop cans slams into the wall of the Plexiglas arena as Kurtis Wanner takes his newly-constructed combat robot for its inaugural spin.The unnamed bot took a quick eight hours to make, from conception to completion. It’s a throwaway meant for daily shows and to be breakable, but that doesn’t mean it can’t pack a punch.“Pop cans aren’t the best opponent, but they give a good idea of what damage can be done,” Wanner said.The real competitors will be out Saturday and Sunday, when the finest combat robots from across Canada and the United States will duke it out at the third annual Kilobots Canadian National Championship at the Saskatoon Exhibition.The Saskatoon Combat Robotics Club (SCRC) has hosted the tournament for all three years at the Ex. Its creations make up about a third of the 58 robots competing this year.
Kilobots event organizer Kurtis Wanner demonstrates a recently-built kilobot at the Saskatoon Ex.
Matt Smith /
The club, the largest of its kind in Canada, was founded 15 years ago by Wanner and others at the University of Saskatchewan and expanded city-wide as it gained popularity. This tournament will be the 43rd overall that the club has held.Wanner said the club has a “home-field advantage” — members have won all three years in both the three- and one-pound categories; Wanner was the first to win in the three-pound.During the week, people can take a robot for a spin in an obstacle course and check out battles in the evening.“We’re hoping to be doing some battles with robots that we’ve designed specifically for this, to put on a really good show,” Wanner said. “With the ones that we’re hoping to fight in the evenings, what we’ve done is basically taken the BattleBots TV show and picked our favourite robot designs from that and just tried to copy them.”On display will be much larger bots the Club has taken to California to actually compete on BattleBots — complete with flame thrower ports and gnarled metal gashes.The top-placing teams across the three weight categories win prizes, trophies and their names engraved on the Kilobots Cup. Other awards include honours for best design, most entertaining, most destructive and the Angle Grinder of Doom award for the robot that falls apart the most. Last year’s prize purse totalled more than $2,000.The tournament will be released as weekly episodes on the Club’s Twitch channel and aired on TV.The SCRC Kilobots display is set up in Hall E at the Saskatoon Ex. Activities run from noon to 11 p.m. on weekdays and noon to midnight Saturday and Sunday.firstname.lastname@example.orgRelated