Engineering a childhood dream into reality

If you're not willing to fail then you'll never succeed.

Perched in his workshop and proudly sporting a Team Carbide T-shirt like the one he wore to victory on TV, Dave Moulds gleams as he presents his team’s prized invention on the trestle table behind him.

“So this is Carbide,” he says excitedly, as he introduces a menacing 110kg robot he created from scratch.

Carbide is an impressive emerald green machine bearing an 850mm-long spinner weapon, which boasts a blade weighing 25kg that can spin up to 250mph in less than five seconds!

The journey to creating this striking robot all stemmed from his childhood where he was fascinated by the popular cult television show Robot Wars – which sees teams of amateur robot enthusiasts pitting their homemade creations against each other. He was hooked by the variations of fighting robots and soon became an avid fan of the show. 

This spurred a new-found interest in robotics and he soon set himself the challenge of building his very own robot, with the end goal of one day being crowned Robot Wars champion.

The task of building his own robot led him to pursue a career in engineering, so he could learn the vital skills which would one day lead to his future successes. In his day-to-day life he now works as a maintenance engineer at Cadbury’s UK factory in Bournville, Birmingham, and also has an established reputation as an engineering hobbyist. Achieving an impressive amount in his 28 years.

After years of pursuing his ambition – building more than 20 robots and having entered various competitions throughout his life – in April 2017 Dave lived out his childhood dream when he formed Team Carbide and won series nine of Robot Wars!

As well as Dave, Team Carbide comprises of his former opponent Sam Smith (34), who he joined forces with after they battled in another competition.


Watching the show is the whole reason I work as an engineer now


Carbide came runner up in series eight of Robot Wars, but Dave and Sam decided to modify their machine and enter the competition again in 2017, so at the beginning of the year the pair spent three months re-engineering their robot, at a cost of around £5,000.

“Watching the show on TV as a kid is the whole reason I work as an engineer now,” admits Dave. “Back then I messed about taking apart train sets and things like that, with the eventual goal of competing on Robot Wars. That got me interested and from there I wanted to do an engineering course, so I went through all the training to be where I am now.”

“As well as Robot Wars, I also won the trophy for the Roaming Robots 2007 UK Heavyweight Championships when I was 17 years old. I won the competition with a machine I’d built in my shed using pocket money, and beat a robot which was worth about £50,000. The look on my competitor’s face was probably one of the best moments in my life.”

To support their pursuit for victory on Robot Wars, RS sponsored Team Carbide by providing various components needed to build their machine.


Carbide wouldn’t have made it through the competition


Dave continues: “After being partnered with RS, Carbide went from a relatively successful and average machine in series eight, to a completely dominant robot in series nine – where it won without a single mechanical or electrical failure.

“Without RS backing us, Carbide wouldn’t have made it through the competition. Not only did RS provide the incredible weapon motor development which makes Carbide perform leagues ahead of the competition, they also supplied most of the components inside the machine. That includes parts all the way from small electronic components to critical large components, such as the gears in the gearboxes.”

After their victory, Team Carbide are looking to not only uphold their position as Robot Wars champions, but also attend other international competitions.

“Looking forward to the future, there are many competitions starting in China,” Dave adds. “Sam and I are very keen to build a totally new design of machine to take there to compete in a new competition called ‘King of Bots’.”

Reflecting on how he achieved his childhood ambitions, Dave shares some advice he’d give to others hoping to accomplish their own goals: “My advice to younger engineers is to not give up when you fail or get annoyed – that’s just part of it.”


Don’t be scared to fail


“If you’re not willing to fail then you’ll never succeed. My philosophy is to always work out why something went wrong and how you can improve until you reach perfection. Don’t be scared to fail – keep going until you have something to be proud of.”

Not many of us can say we’ve achieved the ambitions we had as children, but for Dave Moulds, he couldn’t let go of what inspired him growing up.

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