Thursday, April 14, 2005

Echoes from an old hobby...

So I found this on Fark today:
Robot misses contest after being banned from plane

My opinion? The students were idiots. I started building/fighting Battlebots and similar robots in 1999 and have never had any trouble getting them onto airplanes, even in the post-9/11 world. We're not talking little firefighting boxes on wheels here, I'm talking nasty pointy battle robots built to shred stuff a lot tougher than airplane skin.

With a few basic precautions, the only problem I ever had with an airline was that my toolcase was over the max weight and had to pay an extra fee.

  • Empty any compressed-gas tanks (C02, etc.) and lock them open
  • Cover any sharp edges/points (its a Battlebot, after all)
  • Disconnect the batteries.
  • As an extra measure for making things easy for everyone involved, I packed batteries in a separate box next to the robot. (Some airlines require the batteries from electric wheelchairs to be stored in a special "Battery Box" for fears of gas accumulation, so I planned ahead in case I was asked to do the same)
  • Oh yeah, I showed up 2 hours before the flight in case there were any problems!

One other note, some competitors flying from overseas with machines in higher weightclasses went to the extra expense of crating and shipping their machines since they would have been over the usual luggage weight limits. The firefighting dorks in the article might consider that for next time too. Even shipping 400lbs from the UK to Las Vegas cost less than an extra airline ticket...

As I said... idiots.