Switchback battlebot helps build passion for STEM

STMicroelectronics Pty Ltd

Tuesday, 25 January, 2022

Switchback battlebot helps build passion for STEM

Semiconductor company STMicroelectronics has contributed multiple STM32 microcontrollers (MCUs) to the Switchback battlebot, designed by Texas-based company REV Robotics.

Battlebots are remote-controlled robots that are armed, armoured and designed to engage in combat with each other on the Discovery Channel’s BattleBots program, which returned for its 11th season on 6 January 2022. The season premiere saw the debut of Switchback — a 113 kg robot that uses a dual-motor drum spinner mounted on a fully ambidextrous arm. With motors operating the left-side and right-side drivetrain, the arm and the arm-mounted weapons, the robot is designed for durability and serviceability — as well as to win battles by hitting opponent robots really, really hard and breaking them apart with the drum spinner.

Switchback uses five heavy-duty electronic speed controllers with open-source firmware, implemented with STM32 MCUs. REV Robotics chose the controllers for their durability and familiarity — having previously used them in designing, building and manufacturing robotics parts and components for students to learn about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) — which helps the team make firmware changes to the MCUs quickly.

“The latest in a line of take-no-prisoners battlebots, Switchback builds on our long interest in robots and our experience in these entertaining — but serious — competitions to encourage the next generation of engineers, who can also use our parts and kits to develop the same passion and excitement for robotics that we have,” said Greg Needel, President and co-founder of REV Robotics. “We started using the STM32 MCUs and other ST components in our products and our battlebots because of the breadth of the ST portfolio and the strength of the ecosystem.”

Loris Valenti, Americas Region VP Microcontroller and Digital Products at STMicroelectronics, said robotics is a key market for ST, with the company offering 10-year longevity assurance — although this might not be necessary in the cut-throat world of battlebots.

“For us, even more exciting than watching REV Robotics and Switchback take on the latest and toughest battlebot competitors is the excitement and joy of seeing students develop and build their own robots, knowing that many of them may start or work at the next generation of robotics and industrial companies,” Valenti said. “With the popularity of the STM32 and its extensive and powerful ecosystem, we love inspiring developers as they attack the full range of their design challenges by releasing their creativity.”

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