"I have to say I've never really felt competitive with Mike."
Lisa Winter, 28, is talking about her father. And the field she's referring to isn't professional or scholastic—it involves robots. Mike and Lisa Winter compete as a team on ABC's "BattleBots," which premiered last Sunday. Together, they pilot their bot, Plan X, as it smashes and crunches competing bots in its gladiatorial combat.
"I do feel it's brought us together," Mike Winter says. "We work on all sorts of projects together, but 'BattleBots' has given us the opportunity to work even closer together due to the difficulty of building a competitive fighting robot. Our goal was to make a robot like no other, to try new building techniques, and to win."
A Bay Area inventor, Mike became involved in sparing robots in 1994; Lisa, an engineer, followed his lead two years later and competed throughout her childhood. In the past, they have both controlled their own bots. But on the new TV series, Lisa serves as main driver while her father pilots the tail of Plan X.
"I do think we have different approaches," Lisa says. "I'm hell-bent to win and destroy. Mike likes to create story and drama."
Her father echoes her sentiment.
"I think we do have different combat strategies," he says. "I want autonomous; Lisa wants human-controlled."
"The trick," Lisa says, "is to find the balance of the two to generate an interesting competition."
In the digital age, there's often a stark generation gap when it comes to technology, but Mike maintains that he and his daughter are both "living in the next generation due to the start-up culture [in the Bay Area]."
Despite their strategic differences, Lisa emphasizes the bond she has with her father.
"When it comes down to it, we're always working on the same team," she says. "Yes, it's basically impossible to separate family from robots, but robots are our life and building projects is what defines our family."
Watch Mike and Lisa in action below:
"BattleBots" airs Sundays at 9 (8 Central) on ABC.