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

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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  • 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.

  • Mentors (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 23, 2012 @09:27AM (#39770079)
    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 and for me them shouting instructions during the actual competition is a bit too much. You've help the students enough. Please let them compete without interference.
  • 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 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 Anonymous Coward on Monday April 23, 2012 @11:15AM (#39771285)

    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 instance, robots that build cars are not operated by remote control. Students who have to build robots that run autonomously have therefore gained highly marketable programming skills.

    #3 Students have to compete on their own merit. Robots are asked to complete additional tasks and deal with unknown variables during the tournament. Parents and coaches are not allowed to interact with the students while they prepare their robots at the tournament.

    On the flip side, FIRST is the larger organization. The tournaments are more spectacular, and the press coverage is greater.

    Note that there are plenty of other great tournaments available for schools to participate, such as FIRST Tech Challenge and VEX robotics competition. If you are a S.T.E.M. teacher reading this post, I highly encourage you to participate in one of these competitions as it adds relevance and rigor to your curriculum.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell