Get Ready for By Evan Ackerman RoboGames 2010!
RoboGames is the largest open robot competition in the world, and the 2010
competition (taking place April 23-25 in San Mateo, CA) promises to be the most
exciting, creative, and just generally incredibly fantastically awesome event yet. The
first RoboGames was held seven years ago, and since then, each year has brought
more people, more events, and more robots. Last year, 620 people and 403 robots
came to the San Francisco Bay Area to experience three days of robot combat, robot
sporting events, and robot artwork.
The most popular — and arguably the most dramatic — part of RoboGames are the robot combat events. Bots ranging from five ounces to 340 pounds attempt to destroy each other (and quite often
succeed) in a giant armored arena surrounded by
bulletproof glass. Some robots are simple wedges
designed to flip their opponents, while others use
complicated active weapons like titanium blades (spinning
at over 5,000 rpm), pneumatic lifting arms, and
flamethrowers. The robots are remote controlled, and
after each match, the loser (and sometimes the winner)
gets rushed off to the pits to repair the inevitable damage
while the scent of scorched metal, fried speed controllers,
and battery acid drifts through the crowd.
While RoboGames is perhaps best known for combat
robots, robot-on-robot violence is only a small part of the
games as a whole. There are over 70 different events that
bots of all shapes and sizes can compete in — from maze
solving to ribbon climbing to autonomous firefighting.
Humanoid robot competitions include Kung-Fu, remote
controlled and autonomous soccer, and autonomous
basketball. And it’s not just fun and games, either. Part of
the idea behind RoboGames is to get roboticists from a
variety of backgrounds and with many different areas of
expertise in one place, where they can collaborate and
learn from each other.
Entrants range in age from seven to 72, come from
20+ countries, with women comprising about a third of
the participants. All too often, building robots is
something that people tend do by themselves in their
basements. but when there’s an international competition
to bring your robot to, you get to see what everybody else
has been working on (in their basements). Plus there’s
nothing like a second place finish to motivate competitors
to get even more creative with their bots.
All RoboGames events are open to the public, and the
action runs from noon until 7 PM Friday, Saturday, and
Sunday April 23-35 at the San Mateo County Fairgrounds
in San Mateo, CA. Admission is free to kids under 17 on
Friday, and $20 a day for adults with significant discounts
for military personnel. For more information and to
purchase tickets, visit RoboGames.net. SV
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