Battle of the 'Bots
Reported June 2006
HARTFORD, Conn. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- In a battle of electronics, engineering and a little fire, one of the biggest amateur robot competitions heats up. It's a battle of the 'bots ... and the 'bot-minded!
"I've wanted to be an inventor for the majority of my life in this, and I love robots," says 14-year-old robot enthusiast Taylor Niver.
With a love of robots and a few nuts and bolts, kids compete during the annual Trinity College Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest in Hartford, Connecticut, challenging robots to fight fires in a flash!
"The first goal is to make robots that put out a fire in the shortest amount of time," David Ahlgren, Ph.D., an electrical engineer and director and host of the contest, tells Ivanhoe.
Robots navigate through a maze and have three minutes to find a burning candle and put it out. Ahlgren says the robots have to be autonomous and must move through the maze all on their own.
Heat sensors detect a warm flame. Infrared light helps steer robots, warning of objects in its path. Most robots complete their assigned task, but electrical engineers have bigger goals in mind for students.
"It's been the, kind of the long-term goal of this contest for somebody who comes here to develop a firefighting robot that actually we can put in the home," Ahlgren says.
This year's contest may be over, but it's not too late to start planning ahead. Competitor and Junior engineering student Allison Mathis hopes she'll do better next time. "I'm frustrated that it was such a mechanical failure," she says, "but next year is always possible."
You can bet this bot battle is not over!
The contest draws students from all over the world. The top winners this year were teams from Israel and China. Robots compete in levels ranging from junior -- eighth grade or younger -- to expert.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
David Ahlgren, Director and Host
For more information about engineering:
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
Washington, D.C. 20036-5104
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