By Zach Winn
First, there was music. Then lights began sweeping the smokey arena. The cage came alive with rotating steel blades and fire pits. The crowd grew hysterical in anticipation of the coming destruction.
Such was the scene of the momentous championship match in the last season of BattleBots, a popular, long-running show that pits 250-pound robots against each other for epic bouts of cataclysmic combat. In the match, MIT PhD student Ginger Schmidt became the first female captain (in this case, co-captain) to win the competition.
“It was crazy and pretty surreal,” says Schmidt, whose team, Seems Reasonable Robotics, built the winning bot, named Tantrum. “Our last fight was against a team we really respected. It was frightening. But we actually decapacitated them pretty early in the match, so at that point it was our match to lose and we just needed to be very strategic. There was a slow 60 seconds where we were like ‘Oh my god, did we just win?’”