and forth in the shallow table top *learning* to
go backwards and forwards. (Yes, we are easily
amused.) Again, in retrospect, I think it had
something going for it, but it wasn’t art. The
judges didn’t think so, either (but hey, it was
Competing legitimately in “Best of Show”
was a friend from Brazil I met last year, Marcio
Nehrebecki. This year, his entry was a
homebrewed dog named Fido. Marcio is a true
artist and a simple man. He made his controller
with clothespins. Fido could walk (roll), wag his
tail, turn his head, bark, and his eyes would
light up. What I found really inspiring, however,
were the objects with which Fido was built. The
dog’s head was a shoe. The ears? Socks. The
light-up eyes were automotive bulbs. Fido was
really a joy to behold.
Michael Chen (Taiwan) took Gold in Best of
Show with his humanoid robot, Big Toe.
A few robots of interest that I saw along
the way included the new TurtleBot3
There are supposed to be two models available from
Robotis: one with a Raspberry Pi; and the other based on
the Intel Joule board and a RealSense camera priced
There was also an Interbotix Turtlebot 2i
( www.trossenrobotics.com/m/interbotix). My friend,
Andrew Dresner is Principal Engineer at Interbotix Labs. We
had recently spent time at the Silicon Valley Robot Block
Party making maps and navigating around. The Turtlebot 2i
is unique with its arm which Interbotix has programmed
and integrated into the ROS rviz environment.
TIKITRON, by Samuel M. Coniglio IV (USA), won Gold
in the Art Bots: Bartending Division. I understand it now
dispenses kid-friendly drinks. Farad by Becky Sherman (USA)
took Silver and is always a winner in the static ArtBot
In humanoid robots, Taiwan’s Georgybuster took Gold
in FreeStyle: Original, where scratch-built humanoid robots
demonstrate a free-form exhibition of motions judged by
originality, agility, and variety of moves. India took Silver
with SRMTH Ghost, and the US took Bronze for Michael
According to Overstreet, “There was a lot of help and
sharing among the humanoid teams about fixing robots
and how to improve their robots.” He hopes to have events
especially for the DARWIN-Minis next year.
This year, RoboGames’ combat was broadcast live on
“ twitch.tv,” so there are videos at https://www.twitch.tv
/robogames to see (not total amateurs).
The big draw at RoboGames has always been the
heavyweight combat robots. This year (since there was no
I always hunt down my big Facebook friend, Fuzzy
Mauldin (owner of the “Lazy Toad Ranch” in Texas). He and
his sidekick, Tony Woodward have added a new member to
the team: Tony’s son Pierce, who got to try his hand at
robot-wrangling. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards for
Team Toad’s Polar Vortex this year, as they placed 14th
winning only one of three fights.
Another top contender, Ray Billing’s Last Rites (a.k.a.,
Tombstone) also had a tough go at it, winning only two of
its four fights.
That’s a Wrap
At long last, it is coming down to the robotics age. I’ve
been saying this for decades, but now it’s really true.
Robots are where the microcomputers were in the ‘70s.
Over the next 10 years, robots will be everywhere doing all
sorts of work.
As with the microcomputer revolution, there will be a
lot of self-taught professionals because we are moving so
fast this cannot be taught in schools. We are all “amateurs”
figuring it out as we go along.
RoboGames is robot life, robot DNA. Event creator and
organizer, Dave Calkins has been known to inspire. He’s
been known to change lives. Who knows ... maybe he can
change the world. What’s happening is we’re creating a
record of robot competitions; an annual deadline where we
stop and take measure ... a basis on which to build.
Sometimes when you’re so close to something, it’s
hard to recognize your world has changed, and the best is
yet to come. SV
SERVO 07.2017 49
Ragin' Scotsman and Cavalier playing with fire. (Photo courtesy of Jon Bennett.)