Only UK all-girl student robotics team sets sights on Queen of Bots crown in China

An all-girl robotics team from Brentwood School is the only all-female and UK school team to be invited to compete in a brand new Chinese robot fighting television show “King of Bots”, which will be hosted by international martial arts celebrity, Jet Li. 

The team is one team out of 100 that will be taking part in the television show battling with their robot called SUSPENSION against teams of professional robotic engineers and experts. Mr Thomas Walland, STEM Coordinator at Brentwood School, said: “In the UK, only 9% of engineers are female so to have an all-girl team (aged 15 – 18) representing the School at King of Bots is truly exciting.”

Members of the team, Brentwood School Roboteers, including the team captain (Upper Sixth Form student Sabrina Skilling), a robot designer (Upper Sixth Form student Rebecca Ashcroft), a chief engineer (Juliette Skilling, a Year 11 student) and a design engineer (Mary Hirst, Head of School and Upper Sixth Form student) have travelled to China to take part in the filming and represent the larger team back at the School.

Dubbed the “world cup” of robot fighting shows, King of Bots is the first televised programme of its kind in China and will be broadcast at the end of this year on the Chinese version of Netflix: Zhejiang Satellite Television Network.

Sabrina Skilling, said: “Our dream is to win King of Bots, so that we can show the world that we can be Queen of Bots!  Across the world there is a shortage of women in the engineering industry and, by competing in King of Bots, we hope to encourage more girls to take an interest in engineering. We want to show that anyone can build robots.”

All of the team members travelling to China are members of the Robot Club at the School and have previously featured on the BBC’s Robot Wars with their robot, EXPULSION. Following a defeat in the previous series of the UK television show, a separate team from the School has been invited back to compete in the current series airing on Sunday 22nd October. The new and improved robot that will feature on the new series of Robot Wars has a pushing power (30 horsepower) that is 30 times stronger than anything the team has built before.

Mr Walland added: “I am so proud of our students – the team only built their first robot less than a year ago! Before this, they knew nothing about robotics and had to research the subject before they were able to start building a fighting robot. The students in both teams have shown enormous dedication to the Robot Club – spending as much time as they can at the weekend and during their holidays designing and building robots. Not only have they been invited back to feature on another series of Robot Wars but they have also received this invitation to go to China to compete on an international platform.

“The Robot Wars team has put in huge efforts to improve the overall structure of the robot EXPLUSION; they now have an active weapon that they didn’t have before, and it has a much wider base which means it has more leverage against opponents to force them into corners.

“The number of students now involved in robotics is remarkable and we hope that our School’s team will further inspire students around the world to get into robotics – especially girls. We suspect that the captain of our team travelling to China will be one of – if not the only – female captain."