Features Magazine Volume 69, Issue 3

Super Fighting Robots: Ben Shafton

by Nolan Runkle

Las Lomas sophomore Ben Shafton drives and builds his own BattleBots, which are robots specially designed to destroy and rip apart opposing other BattleBots. Shafton was featured in an episode of BattleBots, a television tv show, hosted by Chris Rose and Kenny Florian, where different contestants build remote controlled robots BattleBots and then control them with a remote with the goal of demolishing the competition. 

Shafton first got into fighting and building BattleBots at a young age, when his boss came to his eighth birthday party and brought numerous 150 gram battle bots with him. It was at this time that he fell in love with battling the bots and was hooked into building and planning the robots for the fights, building his very first Battle bot from scratch in 7th grade. For Shafton, the average BattleBot takes about two weeks to prepare and finalize, and around a month to build from scratch. The process includes buying parts, planning, and the building phases. The BattleBots have a lifespan of anywhere between two seconds to two years, so moving with as much proficiency and speed as possible in this relatively short amount of time is crucial. 

He is still able to balance his school life, social life, and work life by prioritizing his school work during weekdays, and working on his BattleBots on the weekends. The robots are anywhere between 150 grams to 250 pounds, and the high end BattleBots cost upwards of $50,000, making them very expensive, however the vast majority of Bots cost around $1,000 to $5,000. According to Shafton, the intense battles he enters are not just a game, they are “a mental battle too.” Two of the main things that give his battle bots an advantage over the competition is “the ability to understand your opponent and to have a great driver,” said Shafton.

For anyone interested in BattleBots, Ben Shafton recommends teaching yourself to get a more accurate education about the BattleBots. There are many resources available, such as studying youtube videos and miscellaneous websites, such as battlebots.com and fingertechrobotics.com, where Shafton visits frequently. If you want to purchase some parts to build your own Battle bots, there are many resources you can use to buy your own. eBay, Amazon, and some Hobby shops all carry parts, such as plating and wiring. When asked if his Battle bots can feel pain, Shafton excitedly said, ”No, but they can make you feel pain.”