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Robotics Science

SF RoboGames This Weekend 75

Vrogy writes "RoboGames (formerly RoboOlympics) kicked off on Friday in San Francisco with competitor check in and sub-Lightweight class fights. This competition, following in the footsteps of events such as Robot Wars and Battlebots, pits remotely-controlled fighting machines against each other in a bulletproof steel arena. The Competitors are many and tickets are still available. Saturday and Sunday will feature up to 340, or Superheavyweight robot combat, with such crowd favorites as Alcoholic Stepfather, a superheavy that spews flame nearly 25 feet, and Megabyte, a heavyweight that spins a steel shell of doom. RoboGames isn't only for fighting robots, though, it will also feature miniature robotic wrestlers called Robo-Ones, Lego bots, BEAM bots, robotic soccer games, and all kinds of art bots- it's like a festival of robots!"
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SF RoboGames This Weekend

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  • Robot Club (Score:2, Interesting)

    I used to attend the Robot Club meetings at the San Francisco Exploratorium. I attended prepubescently, which is when you generally develop your fixation on robots. Before the smarmy do-nothing adults drove me away I managed to build a twin-motor platform with enough power to carry around a Radio Shack music chip. Later the batteries on that thing exploded.

    And now the place has been taken over by 25-foot firebreathing pneumatisms. Good, good.

  • by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @09:14AM (#12053683)
    Could you imagine everyone in your middle or high school knowing that you're part of a robot competition? As an adult, I think these competitions are great, but it violates two primary teenage directives: Don't care about anything, and Don't be smart about anything related to science.

    I guess it's only a matter of time until one of the robot-competition kids decides he's not going to take being picked on anymore and unleashes his steel-shell of doom and fire spewing robot in his school.
  • however, it is good starting point to compete with Japans in this Robot Area : Sanitation Robots Garbage Collection Robots Security Robots Guide Robots Child-Care Robots Next-Generation Wheelchair Robots _01.html
  • robots or R/C? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dsb ( 52083 ) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @09:21AM (#12053706) Journal
    is there is a difference?

    or maybe not, since I've not looked into the formal definition of robots, but I always believed that robots were autonomous.
    • Re:robots or R/C? (Score:2, Informative)

      by mcsmurf ( 757095 )
      Yeah, RoboGames seems to be a mixture of autonomous robots and R/C controlled. See the rules on this page [].
    • Strictly speaking, the word robot implies some autonomous functionality. Some of the machines in the competition probably qualify under this definition, and some probably don't. It isn't uncommon to automate some processes (weapon reloading etc.)
    • You really want to stretch the point, what about robots operated via R/C from a computer nearby. What about robots with automated sequences - push one button and it does a series of operations.

      At some point no robot is autonomous - someone has to switch the thing on, even if there is a program that takes over from there. The difference between that and 'I move one control and the robot spins in a circle' is at that point just the complexity of the actions programmed in.
    • The dictionary [] says:


      1. A mechanical device that sometimes resembles a human and is capable of performing a variety of often complex human tasks on command or by being programmed in advance.
      2. A machine or device that operates automatically or by remote control.
      3. A person who works mechanically without original thought, especially one who responds automatically to the commands of others.

      I belive both options can be categorized as robots.

      +1 Research for the lazy

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 26, 2005 @09:26AM (#12053715)
    Imagine what a sentient robot of the future will think of us. We pitted their ancestors against each other in bloodsports (or should that be oilsports?) just for our pleasure. Surely they will be mightily pi**ed off!
  • I misinterpreted the title as 'Science Fiction RoboGames This Weekend'.

    Step right up, Bender versus Number 6, one and only performance! K9 takes on C-3PO!
    • Number 6 was a robot? Man, that Prisoner show was even deeper than I thought.
      Mind you, I missed that Ivanova was a lesbian first time round too...
  • robots being the second best thing to the Porsche they never could afford? only robots don't have quite the girl attraction value.. same amount of testosterone required to run, though oh and let's hope they won't need to send in Gil Grissom during this one
  • FIRST [] (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is far superiour than any stupid robowars program. We acually spend our time to create something constructive that inspires high school kids to pursue the fields of science or engineering rather than creating robots to mindlessly destory. Why isn't there a news story on the 7 regional events [] out of 30 that FIRST is having all over the US??
    • by luna69 ( 529007 ) *
      While I don't agree that FIRST is "superior" (I think that there's room for all kinds of robots in the empire...), I am involved as a mentor with a team from Boulder, Colorado. We've been at our regional competition for two days now, and today is the comp's final day...with the top performers getting invited to the nationals in Atlanta in April.

      FIRST really is remarkable. I've been amazed at the creativity these kids can harness, and at the solutions they've found to problems and the robots they've manage
    • I'm a volunteer for FIRST as well as a builder of fighting robots []. Both require a high degree of technical knowledge, building skill, and planning.

      Watching robots fight each other has just as much or more crowd appeal than FIRST events. Therefore, it should inspire youngsters to participate in engineering just as much as FIRST.

      Battlebots IQ [] is a program for teens that involves fighting robots. It doesn't cost $5000 just to get started, unlike FIRST.

    • Stop being an elitist asshole. Both USFIRST and BattlebotsIQ give a good deal of inspiration to the younger generation.

      USFIRST requires the kids to do considerably less fabrication. Additionally, the sheer quantity of money required to compete in USFIRST pretty much kills off most groups who would like to participate.

      BattlebotsIQ is only a $500 entry fee per bot. For the same $5k that it would cost to register for USFIRST, we're sending two teams to BattlebotsIQ with build, travel, and lodging included
    • Here are my thoughts, free so take it at purchase value. In high school I was in FIRST, I started as a sophomore and by my senior year, I was in charge of pit, and mechanical. But, got booted off the team, because of a poor grade in English. This was the only reason I even showed up at school in the first place was so I could go work with the team. After that, I went and competed at Battlebots. Now I have been to many first comps (17) and many combat robotics competitions(29) and at FIRST they boast "
  • RoboWars are boring (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lokedhs ( 672255 ) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @09:38AM (#12053752)
    I have watched it a few times. There is really very little battle, and when actually fighting it's pertty much the heaviest who wins. They all got the design down so they look the same: low, unexposed wheels, and a shovel in front to get underneath the enemy. The flame thrower is nothing more than a silly show-off feature.

    They really need to change the rules somehow to make the fights more interesting. Racing though silly course with "dangerous spikes" that can't even penetrate a millimetre of aluminium is just silly.

    I can't remember seeing any of the robots actually damaged on that show.

    Now, to be fair, I did see another, similar, but much better robot show. I can't remember its name but it too suffered from being too... umm... "nice" to the robots.

    • Maybe the slashdot crowd can propose some rules to make it interesting again?

      I don't see how the designs could not converge. F1 racers all look the same. Tanks all look the same. Forklikfts all look the same. Given a fixed set of requirements, is that inevitable?

      • Armored vehicles don't all look the same. APCs look different than tanks, which look different than tank-killers which look different from mobile artillery.

        To even be defined as a "tank", something would have to look pretty similar: tracks and a main gun. But there's a lot of variety there. How many crew members? How big? How high off the ground?

        The main problem with Robot Wars (and the like) is the rules. They essentially define an ecosystem where "survival of the fittest" plays out. Some of

    • Here's an idea:

      You are limited to about 2 square feet of metal sheeting at the biggest weight class, and only 1 mm thick aluminum.

      Then tighten up the weight restrictions a bit, making it harder to rig up makeshift armor out of non-sheet shaped metal

      This would shift the emphasis towards robots that can deal damage, not take it. You have limited weight and armor, so you use that weight to do as much damage as possible.

      This means exposed guts.

      Exposed guts means fun times for spikey/smashy robots, and eve
      • by Gubbe ( 705219 )
        Flat arena -> no ground clearance + fat armor + small wheels + high-speed erratic driving + hasty maneuvering.

        Fill the arena with small obstacles, uneven surfaces and high/low ground. -> Big wheels, more ground clearance, importance of good suspension and handling characteristics, more weight spend on power systems, thus less dead weight in armor.

        This makes even most current weapons such as circular saws and spikes more effective since there are more exposed wheels and less armor. This also brings a
        • by Illserve ( 56215 )
          Eliminating armor is the easier way to do it. What you are proposing raises the bar of design to such a level that you'd see designers spending the bulk of their time and money on the drivetrain and suspension which is not what we are paying to see.

          We want simple driving with lots of traction, giving us the potential for lots of damage and kinetic energy, not dune buggies crashing into each other.

          And walking bots? You're dreaming. There's a million reasons the military doesn't use them.
          • I suppose you are right about the danger of turning the robot wars into "the tuning wars".
            It would indeed raise the difficulty level for entry a bit, but then again it could inspire more capable engineers to show what they've got.

            I don't agree with you on the matter of high speed and lots of traction though. What I'm suggesting is precisely the opposite of dune buggies crashing into each other. I would wager that it would in fact reduce the whole destruction derby who-gets-under-who-first crashfest aspect
            • not "could be" IS incredibly difficult to build a good walking bot. The best robot labs in the world are still making small, primitive insects that crawl around at a snail's pace. The physics of constructing them are far outside of the grasp of hobbyists.

          • " Eliminating armor is the easier way to do it.

            Nonsense, the REAL geek way would be to increase the weapons payload and its destructive potential! They have a bulletproof arena, lets see them use it.

      • Being a combat robot builder myself I think your post is ridiculous. Taking away armor is not a very good way to increase damage. Do you know how much electronics cost. It may be fun for crowds but robot builders would be throwing down 1000$ bucks a match. I've seen 1lb robots shoot another robot 5 feet up in the air so you can't tell me that these aren't destructive.
  • by Cyclotron_Boy ( 708254 ) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @09:42AM (#12053761) Homepage
    For those who didn't RTFA, here's the link to a rather large directory of all the competitors. May the /.-ing begin...
    Directory listing, free for perusal []
  • I watched this last year in the UK (TV highlights), and the 60 yard sprint (or whatever it is) was so funny - spectators end up cheering on the losers as they finish like 5 minutes behind the winners. The swimming is great fun too. Now the rope climbing bots are something else, let alone the high jump! Great fun to watch.
  • I, personally, wouldn't want to go up against the flamethrower-bot, but I don't think it could "beat" a Matchbox car. If you're going to add fire, at least do it in the form of a cutting torch. Of course, I haven't read the rules.
    • I forgot where I saw it, but I've seen one of these flame thrower bots fry the wiring of it's opponent, then flip it over once it was immobilized. So it's not totally useless.

      Though I agree, a smoke wrench would be much more effective. I'd also like to see a robot with extending arms with explosives on the tips, but I think that's against the rules, too. Machineguns and shotguns are also not allowed. Bunch of pussies!
    • Unfortunately the rules do forbid oxygen as a fuel/combustion accelerator and generally restrict the fuel for flamethrowers to butane. If it can torch the protective lexan box its banned. Explosives are specifically forbidden. So are nukes.

      The judges know this and take the issue into account while scoring. General audience analysis concludes the best chance for a flamethrower to make progress is twofold:
      1) Increase the level of general heat in the robot. Many matches are lost because of component fail
  • An Alternative (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BigDogCH ( 760290 )
    For those of you who don't live close enough, and want something in the midwest, I recommend in Minneapolis MN.

    I have competed in it twice, and had a blast. It is cheap and fun! Also, their rules are setup to make it very flexible and entertaining for the crowd.

    Come on Slashdotters, build your own and compete! It is fun, even if your robot doesn't do very well.
  • by Gogogoch ( 663730 ) on Saturday March 26, 2005 @10:07AM (#12053822)
    There are two RobotWars series - the original UK version, and the US version. There is a remarkable difference between the two, and says something about the cultural differences of these robot-loving countries.

    The UK one is, well, British. It's all tongue-in-cheek with occasional whacky, funny, designs as well as serious competitive ones. Often the inventor's kids get to drive. When someone's machine gets ripped to shreds and they have their "exit interview" the vanquished say things like: "We had a great time; you know, they have very nice lunches here". The audience is full of cheering school kids and their families.

    On the other hand the US version is like WWF. Everything is dead serious. Testosterone levels are high, since winning is everything. The interviewers and hosts try to pump-up the thrill power of the event (whereas the UK host is a comedian).

    So the UK version doesn't take itself very seriously, whereas the US show is dipped in testoserone and macho, as I said. Now, I'm biased and prefer the UK version - for me its more fun (and I can't stand WWF anyway - but what do those Slashdoters who have seen both think?

    An if this has a parallel with the actual cultrues of the countries, what does this mean?
  • Used to be called this. At that point Arnold Schwartzenegger (sp?) was going to attend, then someone in the office talked to the US Olympics committee. They immediately sued over using Olympics in the title. Net result - renamed the games (even last years) and no Arnold.

    Interesting how they can sue over a trademark that has been around for 2500+ years.
  • And today is the last day for many of the regionals for FIRST Robotics, a highschool level competition sponsored by NASA. Too bad I couldn't compete in both at the same time.
  • Man, we need TV coverage of this event.

    I live in Houston but I want to see this spectacle.
    • Re:TV Coverage! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ThyPiGuy ( 870924 )
      I thought I saw something very similiar to this on TechTV a couple of years ago. It had all the same stuff, obstacle course, fighting, rope climbing, swimming, etc, but I thought it was in the UK. Maybe they moved it here. Maybe it will be on TV at some point again.
    • A quick looks at Builder'sDB [] shows that there's an event in texas, Robot Rebellion.
  • What laws are there to stop people from creating robots that have REAL damage potential, and then fighting them? Why can't we have an "anything goes" competition. Thats what people really want to see. They want to see robots with guns, explosives, acid, rockets, etc. Why don't we have that yet? I guarantee it'd get a helluva lot better ratings than Battle Bots. And if safety is an issue, host it remotely in an arena with no spectators and let everybody view through monitors.

    • Re:Real weapons (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tackhead ( 54550 )
      > What laws are there to stop people from creating robots that have REAL damage potential, and then fighting them? Why can't we have an "anything goes" competition. Thats what people really want to see. They want to see robots with guns, explosives, acid, rockets, etc. Why don't we have that yet? I guarantee it'd get a helluva lot better ratings than Battle Bots. And if safety is an issue, host it remotely in an arena with no spectators and let everybody view through monitors.

      Unfortunately, there are

    • The big limiting factor is money to pay for the robots and the venue.
    • "...stop people from creating robots that have REAL damage potential"

      I think you should go to one of these events and stand next to a 340lb robot...then say they don't have any real damage potential. for [] video []
  • HI I'm new saw the comment on more teens would do it if they didn't get picked on. Well I'm a 14 year old girl who (if I knew how) would soooooooo make one of those cool robots. I'm really into science and yeah, I get called a nerd but only as a laugh. Most people don't mind unless you talk about it loads to them and drag them into it. Oh, by the way this isn't meant to offend anyone, just stating what I think. Cya xxx
  • Here are some photos shot this weekend: 6223/ []

    There's still one more day left (Sunday, March 26th), so if you are in the SF Bay Area, come check it out. Unlike some robot events, this one is kid-friendly.
  • Here's the photos that I took. oar.html []

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor