Mar

25

Columbia Profs and SEAS Students Build Killer Robots

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Just so you know, the guy sitting next to you in lecture might be able to build a robot that could kill you in 10 seconds flat. But if he can do that, he’s probably also more concerned with building a super-cool robot designed to kick other robots’ butts in a national robotics competition. 

This year, a number of Columbia faculty and SEAS students are acting as involved mentors for a high school robotics team known as 2 Train Robotics. The kids come from Morris High School Campus as well as other city schools, and they work at Columbia’s super-teched-out MechE lab.

They also participate annually in a robotics competition run by an organization known as FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), with multiple levels of competition. And while you were sitting around on spring break, these guys and gals were kicking metallic ass in Philadelphia, where they took first place in regional competition. Pictures of the epic battle after the jump.


That means the team is off to Atlanta for the National Championships, where it will be officially decided who has the skills to take over the world. The teams have already been informed through an animation of the rules and exactly what the competition will look like.

There will unfortunately be no robot duels to the death – instead, the robots will be playing a good-clean-fun ballgame in a simulated moon surface environment. The robots will have a front end with implements for moving the “moon rocks,” and a backend that the opponents try to place the balls into.

The team that gets the most rocks into opposing cabooses wins. The teams get to throw moon rocks into the fray as well, and for a segment of the game the teams will turn off the auto-pilot and take the monsters on joyrides. That’s just what you do at robotics competitions. And yeah, we’re awesome at it.


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3 Comments

  1. ex-FIRST  

    Eh, congrats on them taking first but that leads me to question a few things.

    I was on my high school's FIRST team and the only teams that ever took top 10-15 were teams that had most of the work done by professional engineers/professors/college students.

    Note team 153 in the last pic. Clearly not designed by high school students.

    If they really do take a more hands off approach then great but based on personal experience I can't imagine they do...

  2. Anonymous  

    Trust me, we do. That's why our robot's made out of wood and aluminum instead of some of the robots out there. Mentors aren't even supposed to do any drilling or anything. Very hands off. We all designed it, and those kids built it.

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