'BattleBots' gets rebooted; Live taping in Bay Area

VALLEJO, Calif. (KGO) -- A robot deathmatch with flame throwers and spinning saw blades is coming to the Bay Area.

The old hit TV series "BattleBots" is back and it's coming to ABC this summer. There's a way to see it in person before it airs when they tape in front of a live audience in the Bay Area later this month.

Vicious machines duking it out in a bomb-proof box was a hard sell to the networks back in the late 90s.

"Everybody kind of laughed and thought it was really funny and kicked us out the door and that was the end of it," "BattleBots" CEO and founder Trey Roski said.

It turns out, it was funny enough to get picked up by Comedy Central for five seasons. Even Jay Leno had a robot called Chinkilla. Ginsu, as in Ginsu knife, was one of the more famous robots even though it never won a match. Since the show went off the air 12 years ago a lot has changed.

"Metals have gotten stronger, motors have gotten faster, more beefy," said BattleBots co-founder Greg Munson.

It all makes this the perfect time to bring BattleBots back to the airwaves on ABC.

"We've added a rule and it's the biggest rule of all. You have to have an active weapons system," Munson said.

With robots shooting flames and projectiles, the arena, the Battle Box, had to get stronger. There are new obstacles which includes spikes at the edges and there's an inch and a quarter bulletproof glass.

Watching robots tear each other apart is more than just good clean fun, it's also a jumping off point for learning about a field that may be more relevant now than ever before.

"It is that catalyst, that spark, for a young person to want to get into engineering," Munson said.

In fact, that's why founder Roski wanted to create the show in the first place.

"A lot of kids today are like, change a tire? I got to call AAA. I don't know how to change a tire," Roski said.

The competition 12 years ago was male-dominated.

"One of our teams for the show is going to be a high school team of Catholic school girls and they're going to show that they can live up and beat the boys," Munson said.

For the robots, it's a fight to the bitter end. For the contestants, it's only the beginning.

"It does launch careers. I don't know one robot contestant that didn't get his career launched from being here on BattleBots," Roski said.

The show is being taped at the Mare Island Sports Complex in Vallejo May 21, 22 and 23. They have five taping sessions planned. Click here for information on getting tickets for $10 apiece.
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