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Team ‘bitten by bug’ after Robot Wars clash

Martin and the team tell host Dara O’Briain about their creation.

Martin and the team tell host Dara O’Briain about their creation.

ATEAMof local engineers are determined to get back in the arena after their menacing crushing machine ‘Draven’ lost its fight on the new series of Robot Wars.

Team Draven, headed by Melksham man Martin Gutkowski, featured on episode two of the popular robot battle show, which returned to screens last month for the first time since 2004.

Draven, which has a claw with four tonnes of crushing power, was beaten by the spinning saw of ‘M.R. Speed Squared’, but Martin is keen to get back into fighting shape.

He told Melksham News, “Robot Wars is one of the most amazing experiences – especially meeting all the other competitors and learning about the machines they’ve built.

“It’s nerve-janglingly stressful to actually drive a machine you only really got working two days previously and have had precious little testing time, in front of an audience of hundreds, knowing the footage will be broadcast to millions of people.

“We had last-minute control issues which prevented the weapon from working and the drive was stuttering badly.

“Ultimately this came down to two little electronic components worth less than £5 which decided to give up the ghost when we were in the arena. But that’s Robot Wars! A good design only gets you so far – good driving and reliability are the often-neglected elements of success.

“Now we’ve been thoroughly bitten by the bug once more and are already in the process of a full rebuild. We’ve already stripped Draven down and about 90% of him is due to be replaced or upgraded.”

Martin first built the robot in 1999 with teammate Richard Johnstone, from Cheltenham, and  friend Joe Gibson. This time, the team is made up of Martin and Richard, and Adrian Finch, Roy Harris and Alex May, who work as engineers with Martin at Dyson.

Draven has six wheel-drive in a carbon fibre chassis with a crushing jaw made of an aerospace-grade titanium, and a kevlar and titanium armour shell. The jaw can crush with a force of four tonnes and can lift and carry 250kg, as well as being able to flip the robot back over if it is upside down.

The machine cost thousands of pounds to build and the team received sponsorship from Alcoa, Johnson Electric, Microsemi, and A1 Hydraulics.