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Robots Go Wild at the USFIRST.org Robotics Competition (Video) 49

Posted by Roblimo
from the greetings-to-our-new-robotic-basketball-overlords dept.
The Robots Rock. They Sock. They Rebound. And they *SCORE* at the USFIRST.org Robotics Competition, which is open to high school teams all over the U.S. -- including the Michigan competition where Robert 'samzenpus' Rozeboom shot this video. He says, "Pretty neat competition, made me wish we had a team when I was a kid."

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Robots Go Wild at the USFIRST.org Robotics Competition (Video)

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  • Dallas Regionals (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BigSlowTarget (325940) on Monday April 23, 2012 @08:57AM (#39769775) Journal

    I did the game announcing for the Dallas Regionals this year. The game is a combination of autonomous and teleoperated. The bots that won took advantage of higher point score values during the autonomous period and/or did strategic moves like gathering up ammunition during that period and it made a difference even though it was only 15 seconds long. Some ball targeting was really impressive. It was also the first time since Battlebots that I've seen 1000+ people cheering robots.

  • by vawwyakr (1992390) on Monday April 23, 2012 @09:06AM (#39769859)
    It would be great if more people would get into this sort of competition. It combines some skill with a lot of talent just like other sports just less physical. I see the need for physical sports too obviously but think of how far we could go if we devoted even 1% of the energy we spend on other sports onto something like this.
    • by Lord_Jeremy (1612839) on Monday April 23, 2012 @11:59AM (#39771979)
      I was very active in my high school's FRC team. We were always complaining about how we got zero support from the school and had to raise thousands of dollars for fees and materials ourselves.

      Writing the C code that drove our robots was one of my first real "production" programming projects and the whole experience was incredibly educational. FIRST robotics was hands down the most fun thing I did in high school.
      • by x1r8a3k (1170111)
        I was part of a group that tried to get a team started at my high school. We got about $150 from the school if I remember right. Current registration costs are $6500, plus the cost of spare parts, transport, tools, etc.

        Raising that much money isn't really feasible for high schoolers without getting a corporate sponsor.

        We wound up spending the few hundred we managed to get on a parts kit and built a bot in one of our parent's basement. It could have been fairly competitive, but we couldn't get to enter
      • by cusco (717999)
        Sounds like my experience in the high school theatre group (1970s). Wish we'd have had robotics competition, but at that time an industrial robot that could screw on lug nuts was considered cutting edge.
  • Guys (Score:5, Informative)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Monday April 23, 2012 @09:07AM (#39769875)

    Wicked echo on the voiceover there, can you record that stuff in front of a curtain, or hang cloth over the walls or something. Its the little things.

    But yeah this looks like a lot of fun.

    • by pinkj (521155)

      Wicked echo on the voiceover there, can you record that stuff in front of a curtain, or hang cloth over the walls or something. Its the little things.

      But yeah this looks like a lot of fun.

      I work in audio post-production so I always try to tell myself that most people don't have the know-how when it comes to recording, editing and mixing audio. Because if I didn't, I would be screaming at 95% of all the videos I watch on the internet.

      Common voice over problems are:
      1. Recording near the blaring computer fans.
      2. Popping the mic on lips plosives (Ps and Bs)
      3. Being too far from the mic (like in this case)
      4. Clipping the recording.
      5. Using an incredibly crappy webcam mic.

  • Back in my day it seemed the big high school project was the hover craft on the basketball court. I think the robotics competition draws a bigger crowd!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Back in my day, the big high school science project was to stick a penny and a roofing nail in a lemon. Of course, the penny was actual copper and not zinc, so this worked. We looked mighty stylish with our onions hanging from our belts as we accepted are Junior Scientists of Year awards.

  • FIRST in MN (Score:3, Interesting)

    by micromegas (536234) <cbacigalupo@gmail.com> on Monday April 23, 2012 @09:21AM (#39770023) Homepage
    I had the honor of being a judge at the Lake Superior REgionals this year. These kids are AWESOME! I heard a great statement, "Sport Robotics is the only sport where everyone can turn pro!" This year, students can letter in robotics in the state or Minnesota! Another fact, in MN there are 156 high school hockey teams and 154 high school robotics teams.
    • Re:FIRST in MN (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BigT (70780) on Monday April 23, 2012 @10:57AM (#39771021)

      At a given school, which team (hockey or robotics) gets more money from the school, and which has to raise funds for its activities?

      • A great point! Part of what the judges look for in FIRST is how the team "markets" itself. Good teams have an entire sub-team devoted to marketing, web design, outreach and getting local sponsors. This gives "non-technical" types a away to be active and really contribute. But you are right, it's a bit illogical to give school money to a sport where very few can make a career out of the skills they develop it it.
  • Mentors (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I've had some family members compete and I've had the opportunity to attend some of the regional events over the last couple of years. Very cool! I know the organization is very heavy into developing mentor/mentee relationship. That's something that works very well and encourages the younger team members to step up the following year. One thing I'd like to see them change is allowing the adult mentor to stand behind the students during the competition. Some of those adults are a little too competitive
    • Tee hee. I'm one of those mentors who was lucky enough to get to stand behind the students on my team this year and coach them on the field. I didn't do any shouting, but I did a lot of micromanaging. That's the job of a coach on the field - you have to see the bigger picture and provide low-level guidance to the driver and operator since they are completely absorbed just in driving the robot to do the little task you've given them.

      I do agree that a few of the coaches are a bit too competitive, but I woul
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Same thing here.

        I was drive coach this year, and most of what I was doing was reminding the students driving of how much time was left in the match, looking at the video feed to see if there were balls on the field (behind the ramps) that we couldn't see, and talking with coaches from other teams to coordinate strategy (esp. getting on the bridge).

        There definitely are mentors that are overly competitive, but as the parent said it's a vanishingly small number.

        Additionally, we actually had a student who was t

    • Most of the teams I judged this year, the kids were adamant that the mentors are there to facilitate, not participate. It does happen but, not as much as one might think.
  • I ran across the FLL last year while looking for some extracurriculars for our homeschoolers. My two oldest are in the range for FLL so I looked into our options for local participation. I was pleasantly surprised to find five or six teams in our small town (population 50,000) and at least a dozen within an hour's drive. The local 4H clubs work with NASA to sponsor teams, which eliminates most of the cost barriers. I am coaching a team this year and will be responsible for perhaps $200 (depending on to

    • by radtea (464814) on Monday April 23, 2012 @10:15AM (#39770565)

      There's also VEX: http://www.vexrobotics.com/ [vexrobotics.com]

      FLL, VEX and FRC have different advantages, but all of them are great.

      I've been a mentor with a FIRST FRC team for the past three years, and if anyone had told me four years ago how much fun it would be to work with a bunch of high-school students I'd've told them they were nuts. As it turns out, they're one of the best groups of people I've ever worked with: eager to learn, flexible in their thinking, creative and capable. It's like Scouts or Guides for the 21st century. Kids come out of it able to debug complex systems, diagnose mechanical, electrical and software issues, work as a team, argue for their own ideas and reach principled agreement with others.

      VEX is great because it puts all the work in the hands of the kids themselves. It's more economically feasible, too. VEX is a Mechano-like system that can be put together with simple tools but is incredibly flexible in the freedom of design it gives. One of my kids has been on a VEX team and last year they were getting a mysterious clicking sound from the robot when it lifted one arm... turned out they'd under-speced the shaft, which had twisted inside the bushing to the point that it looked more like a drill-bit. That's the kind of lesson that will make these kids better engineers, come the day.

      FLL is awesome because it's so universally accessible, and there's no better way to teach kids things like the meaning of an infinite loop than for them to see their FLL bot repeating the same endless pattern when trapped by field objects.

      The great thing about all these programs is they aren't battle-bots: they are solving far more interesting problems than "smash the other guy", which is really a kind of sad and silly pre-modern use of robots, which are giving us new and fundamental capabilities to create prosperity so we don't have any urge to smash the other guy (not that that urge ever made much sense.)

      This is a world-wide phenomenon: I'm in Canada, which routinely produces world-championship FRC teams (the team I help mentor isn't one of them... yet) and there are teams in Europe and elsewhere.

      If you've got kids and are interested in technology, you can't do better than to get involved in a local robotics organization. The future is happening right now, in your local schools, and you can be part of it.

    • by cusco (717999)
      4H and NASA? There's a match that I would never have imagined in any context at all. Very cool.
  • Transcript (Score:5, Informative)

    by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Monday April 23, 2012 @09:37AM (#39770167)

    Title: Robert 'samzenpus' Rozeboom Takes You to the Michigan FIRST Robotics Competition
    Description: They rock. They sock. They rebound. They SCORE! at the USFIRST.org Robotics Competition.

    00:00) <TITLE>
    Scenes at the robotics competition are shown throughout the presentation.
    The SlashdotTV logo bar reads "Robert 'samzenpus' Rozeboom Takes You to the Michigan FIRST Robots Competition" before fading out.

    00:03) Robert>
    Part pepperly[?], part battlebots and part rewards ceremony.
    The non-profit FIRST Robotics Competition allows kids to learn about technology in a hands-on way and have fun doing it.
    Founded by Dean Kamen, this year marks the 21st season of the competition.
    The FRC has grown from one event to almost 60, and from 28 teams to over 2,000.

    00:05) Robert>
    Each team is made up of 10 to 25 high school aged kids, who work with a group of adult mentors and engineers.
    The teams get 6 weeks to build robots from a common set of parts.
    Once the build season is over, teams compete locally - with a chance to go to state or even national championships.
    The FRC is giving out almost $14M in prizes and scholarships this year, ranging from a one-time $500 prize to a 4-year full right scholarship.

    01:41) Robert>
    This year's competition is called 'The Rebound Rumble'.
    Each team uses 3 remotely controlled robots, to score as many points in 2:15s matches possible.
    The match begins with a 15-second hybrid period, in which robots operate independently of driver input.
    During this period, 1 robot in each team may be controlled using a Microsoft Kinect.
    In the remaining 2 minutes, drivers score as many baskets as they can with their robots.
    The higher the basket, the greater the number of points.
    The match ends with robots attempting to balance on bridges located at the middle of the court.

    02:15) Robert>
    Watching a bunch of 150-pound robots crash into each other and shoot baskets, is a pretty good way to spend an afternoon.

    02:29> <TITLE>
    The SlashdotTV logo bar reads "Robert 'samzenpus' Rozeboom Takes You to the Michigan FIRST Robots Competition" fades back in.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm a mentor for one of the teams and the program is actually quite meaningful if done right.

    Before a significant involvement of some engineers, the teachers ran the program like a shop class and hardly any time and thought was put into the design of the robot.

    After a few years of introducing concepts like modularity, center of gravity, design with CAD, and brainstorming sessions, the team performs much better and the feedback from the kids involved has been much better. Before, the kids took math because t

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Years ago I participated as a coach for a few years. It is exciting to watch but in my opinion the competition has a lot of issues. First of all it is expensive to enter. When I did it was over $8,000. Second the sponsors for the most part build the robot. Certainly all the robots that place in the top half are built by the sponsors. The kids have minimal involvement in the design and building. The main sponsors are car companies and defense contractors. Several told me they almost shutdown their ma

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I chose Robofest over FIRST Robotics several years ago for a few reasons:

      #1 The competition is not cost prohibitive for schools. Students ranging from lower elementary to high school can compete for the price of a Lego Mindstorms kit (~$250.00). Even home school students can participate. Each team does not need to seek a corporate sponsor, and the parts can be reused each year.

      #2 The robots are 100% autonomous. There is no remote control allowed. This aligns more closely to the needs of industry. For

      • by Ksevio (865461)

        That sounds similar to the FIRST Lego League (FIRST for younger students). The robots are only made of LEGOs and are required to complete "missions" autonomously.

        Along with it are other educational/research tasks (such as bio/nano engineering, energy, etc) that the students create a presentation on, and the robot missions are somewhat related to the theme of the year.

        It does have the advantage of being the same people running it as the larger FIRST events, so they have access to a larger amount of resource

    • I mentored a team in Michigan, and there are some that get professional engineering done by sponsors. But on our team the kids did most of the design, most of the construction, and all of the software. Some custom fabrication was done by sponsors, but not design or assembly. The adults were there to make suggestions and do things that were beyond the kids abilities - but a good mentor will have the kids take a crack at it first. We managed to get to nationals with a mostly kid-driven effort, and Michigan is
  • I'm a mentor for FIRST Team 4095 Team RoXI of Pius XI High School out of Milwaukee WI. It was our rookie year this year and we didn't do all that well, but we were there with more than a plywood box (but close though). I was also a student on FIRST team 13 of Johnsburg IL 1996 through 1998. FIRST is a great project for those interested in STEM and Business and Marketing students too. Our team was a team of 12 kids and 2 mentors. While most teams are double or triple the number of participants. When sta
  • What this country desperately needs is all the fortune and glory of American Idol channeled into this. IMHO, if kids thought they could become technological rock stars instead of ostracized nerds, technical fields would get a much greater influx of talent. Unfortunately, the people seem to be addicted to the bread & circuses.

  • My son started high school this year and joined the robotics club and I became a half-assed mentor to the team. We've been to a couple of regionals now and they are a lot of fun. A surprisingly intense 3 days-

    The first day you arrive, unpack the robot (after bag inspection- there's a strictly enforced 6 week build period at the conclusion of which you have to bag the robot and put a security tag on it, though you can keep up to 30 pounds separate to continue work on), setup your pit area in a 10' X 10' squa

  • He is forty-eight years old, and he was part of GeekNet.
    He is forty-eight years old, and he was part of Slashdot.
    Only in videos will we have our own names since only in videos are we no longer part of the effort. In videos we become heroes.
    And the crowds yell, "Robert Rozeboom."

  • Saw my first one of these a year or two ago in Knoxville TN. I was from the area and didn't expect much - it is frankly a poor and dumb area of the country.

    What I was surprised to find was all new Cadillacs in the parking lot. People carrying around personal cameras that were broadcast quality etc. There was nothing but money here. Most of the 'bots' were custom CNC'd and anodized, again, indicating a lot of money.
    And I had to wonder, does a poor kid stand a chance?

    They place far too little emphasis on
  • i watched this because i was told "Robots Go Wild" and yet there were no robo-boobies. what the hell?

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