Iarrived Friday afternoon anticipating the HomeBrew Robotics Club’s event, “Table Top Navigation.” This event is modeled after our own “TABLEBot Challenge.” In the final phase, robots move a block into a
shoebox mounted at the end of a table.
There were only four competitors this year,
but we all knew each other and bragging rights
were on the line. In the end, Chris Mayer (USA)
with his artificially intelligent MotBot won Gold,
mesmerizing the judges with its tabletop prowess.
Marco Walther (Germany) took Silver with his
high-tech TABLEBot Dexter, and Al Margolis’
(USA) VNAVS1 (which was originally designed for
RoboMagellan) took Bronze. I guess the judges
really like big bots!
For me, I didn’t totally embarrass myself. I
scored a few goals (with some coaxing) and
didn’t fall off the table.
Saturday was a beautiful sunny spring day as
opposed to last year when it rained. My primary
job today would be RoboMagellan. This is an
event where a GPS coordinate is specified and an
18” OSHA orange “Goal Cone” is placed on the
spot that is the final destination. Bonus Cones are
also specified, which give competitors a fractional
multiplier that decreases the robot’s timed score.
First thing was to create the map. Normal people
would have created the map the previous week or even the
day before, but no. This is amateur hour. Early in the
morning before the event while pouring over Google maps
on a tablet, I got an idea of where I wanted to put the
cones. Once we arrived at the Alameda County Fairgrounds
(where RoboGames was being held), it was just a matter of
logging the GPS coordinates and making a map. By 11: 30
am, I had the map drawn but could find neither a printer
nor a copier, and it was now time to start the event.
Eighteen teams registered for RoboMagellan; 14
showed up and were all now gathered around waiting for
This is not some slick trade show with suits, ties, and over-the-top corporate sales
booths. It’s not a Hollywood production either, with predictable scripts and special
effects where everything just works out. RoboGames (the Olympics for robots) is the
biggest “open” robot event in the world. Of course, the big draw is and always has
been the combat robots. However, in addition to loud bangs, crashes, smoke, sparks,
fire, and mechanical mayhem, there are dozens of other events at RoboGames from
Humanoid robots, ArtBots, Soccer robots, Fire Fighting robots, RoboMagellan, Best of
Show, and more. It’s “Amateur Hour” and we love it ... the friends, the robots, the
medals, the competition, and the chaos.
The Original Robot Amateur Hour
By Camp Peavy
SERVO 07.2017 45
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HomeBrew Robotics Club members, Al Margolis, Camp Peavy, Marco
Walther, and Chris Mayer compete in Table Top Navigation.