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CNM Instructor Participates in Discovery Channel’s International BattleBots Competition

Sabri Sansoy, who teaches computer programming, was part of Team Ghost Raptor.
CNM Instructor Participates in Discovery Channel’s International BattleBots Competition
Sabri, third from left, before a recent fight at the BattleBots competition.

Dec 15, 2020

The Ghost Raptor robot is menacing. Up top it has a long, reinforced two-foot blade that tilts in different directions and spins at up to 200 miles-per-hour. That blade is designed to cut apart, destroy, or at least disable any other robot it comes into contact with as part of the BattleBots competition. 

BattleBots has been around since 2000 and is essentially cage fighting for remote-controlled robots. This season it featured 60 teams—including Team Ghost Raptor—that went head-to-head in a tournament-style competition. Team Ghost Raptor was started by Chuck Pitzer, but he had help from several teammates, including Sabri Sansoy, who’s a part-time instructor in CNM’s School of Business & Information Technology and teaches computer programming for non computer science majors. 

“We shot the entire competition over two weeks in October and many days we were up at 6 a.m. and didn’t stop until midnight,” Sabri says. “It was a lot of fun and it was also the true definition of teamwork.” 

The team worked non-stop to prepare, use, and then fix the robot after each battle. Sabri was part engineer, part social media manager, and says even though the various teams—which came in from all around the world—were competing with each other in the arena, there was a very strong sense of community once the fights were over. If one team needed a new motor but didn’t have one, other teams were quick to volunteer an extra.

The first of Ghost Raptor’s fights have already aired, and the next will be on the Discovery Channel on January 7. Sabri won’t say what happens at the end of the season but encourages everyone to tune in to see how Ghost Raptor fairs. The team also has Instagram and Facebook channels where they make regular updates. 

Photo of Ghost Raptor, right, during a recent fight.
Ghost Raptor, right, during a recent fight.

Sabri got involved with the Ghost Raptor Team because he’s long worked with robots. Educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he’s done everything from build autonomous paintball gun robots that detect and fire at humans for a Ridley Scott project, to developing an autonomous beach-combing crab-like robot that uses AI to recognize and pick up cigarette butts and bottle cap trash. He’s currently the Principal Software Engineer and Data Scientist at Mountain Vector Energy here in Albuquerque where he's designing AI software that helps companies monitor energy usage and costs  in real time. 

He started teaching at CNM this year because he was impressed with the college’s  commitment to students and because of the work other instructors have done with robotics. Thanks to a proliferation of affordable robotics hardware and software, he says now is an exciting time to be involved in the robotics field and looks forward to working with students on a number of projects. 

“The college is already doing great work, so I think there’s a lot of potential at CNM,” he says. “That and robots are just cool.”