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Enginursday: Robot Season!

From April to September, it's hard not to find a robotics competition or event. Here are a few I got to see this year.

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Robot Season is in full swing. From the months of about April to September, it’s non-stop robot action! So far I have been lucky enough to attend a few events and participate in one of myself. There are events, challenges, and competitions for all types of builders. A few notable events I attended had robots crawling through sand dunes, finding their way through mazes, playing hockey, sumo wrestling, and finally, straight up trying to destroy one another.

The Rover Challenge is an event held by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium. The challenge is to build a robot that can navigate the treacherous landscape of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The challenge is designed to mimic the conditions faced on Mars. There is no GPS allowed so teams must use radio signal strength to locate the target area. The target area is marked by a rotating radio beacon. This challenge is one of my favorites since it’s an afternoon of robots playing in the sand. The creativity in locomotion is incredible. We saw custom spoked wheels, a screw-propelled vehicle, and even a robot that hopped across the sand.

The National Robotics Challenge is the jack of all trades competition. There are so many things going on, I couldn’t see it all. I tried to follow the little known sport of Bot-Hockey. Robots play a simple game of hockey where drivers cooperate and attempt to score goals. Drivers can push the puck into the goal. Many teams developed interesting flicking or pushing mechanisms to shoot the puck. The best part is it’s just as aggressive as real hockey, without the missing teeth. The list of events at NRC is ever growing. There is something for everyone, if not, they’ll make one up on the spot.

Lastly, if you were watching our blog a few weeks ago, I was a competitor at the USATL Stem Tech Olympiad. I competed with a 60lb combat robot. The rules are simple, two robots, three minutes, fight! There are many weight classes to build for and dozens of events across the country. If you are interested, checkout the Builders Database for events near you.

Now, robot season isn’t over! AVC is coming up very soon along with a few other competitions. Are there any competitions we should take a look at? Have you created a robotics challenge that is interesting or unusual? Let us know in the comments.


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