The Robotics Convention/St Louis 2012
I live in the St Louis area and from today through this coming Sunday they are having the 2012 First Robotics Championship. This nationwide competition features high school level students competing in a competition to build robots from pre-selected kits given to each group of competitors. I can tell you from my experience there today that it was definitely worth the trip. I was truly amazed by the ingenuity and level of engineering and design skill exhibited by these students, especially considering that most of them were not even old enough to drive.
Before I continue, I wanted to provide a link to the competitions website where you can watch a live stream of the competition between 7am and 8pm central standard time. http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/robotics/
This competition, as mentioned, involved high school students from across the nation. From year to year, the goal of the robots they design varies, but usually focuses on some sort of competitive sport. For example, this year’s challenge was a three on three battle between two teams of three robots each, with each robot trying to both pick up and shoot basketballs through hoops of various heights, each being worth a certain amount of points. To say the constructs were impressive was an understatement to say the least. Each team is given the same kit of parts to use but beyond that, they are each responsible for designing and constructing their own original robots. Once the game begins, the operators, controlling the robots by wireless connection from outside the court, battle for position, the actual balls needed to score, and also to try to obstruct their opponents from scoring. I’ve included a few photos and videos from the competition throughout this post.
Watching these youngsters both operate and design these machines was truly uplifting when considering the future of our great race. Having grown up with technology like the internet from birth, they show a technical aptitude far surpassing the children of my youth(I am 38) and that fact really gives me hope that some of them will grow up to invent technology that could solve many of the problems facing us today.
In addition to being genuinely impressed by the robotics these teenagers had created, I was also fortunate enough to see additional robotic display booths run by the U.S. military, the CIA, and also NASA. To say the least it was both impressive and also somewhat scary. The Army booth contained robots with various designs that would really scare me if I was a member of an opposing countries military. For example, they had two-wheeled robots, barely bigger than a football that had the capability to jump almost two stories into the sky. They can be used to help clear rooftops and also to deliver explosive devices. The CIA booth had what looked like a robotic spider the size of a watermelon that looked as if it could perform any number of tasks. Just very interesting stuff. Anyways, I took a few pictures and some video so check them out below….and excuse my poor video making skills, I am still learning to film in a better way…:)