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No Hitting Below the Drive Belt 26

Shturmovik[KGB] writes: "As per NASA/JPL: "Tune in today and Saturday and see hundreds of robots and their creators -- high school students -- compete in a national robotics competition sponsored by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Seven teams sponsored by JPL are taking part in the contest at Walt Disney World's EPCOT Center in Orlando, Fla. Watch the students and their robots compete on NASA Television or on the Web during a live broadcast and Webcast of the FIRST Robotics National Competition on Friday, April 6 from noon to 2 p.m., PDT (3 to 5 p.m, EDT) and on Saturday, April 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., PDT (1 to 5 p.m., EDT)." The Webcast can be accessed here. The NASA TV schedule is also available."
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No Hitting Below the Drive Belt

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  • That is NOT true. You can certainly have a robot that is not totally autonomous. I say totally because the FIRST control system is actually very powerful and can be programmed (via an onboard BASIC Stamp from Parallax Inc.) to do some very complex controls. And if you throw in the many sensors that come in the kit (gyros, limit switches, pots, etc.) you can add many non-human controlled elements to your machine. These things are definitely robots (if you've never seen them live, you should).
  • Robot wars, Schmobot wars.
    Battlebots is where it's at. Robot wars is staged , and the competition is mainly between your robot and the house bots. Battlebots is much better because there's more one on one battles and the arena hazards are just there to add some thrill to it.
  • The problem with FIRST is that people like D. Kamen are really closed minded when it comes to anything that is NOT FIRST. And if you've looked at the competition last year and now this year it is becoming much less of a competition with all these aliances and crap. There's less and less competitiveness and people are losing interest [to Battlebots].
  • I'm there right now as a matter of fact. Go to Team 271 and Ask for James.

    We just saw the mars rocket take off. We're only 60 miles away.

  • I agree. People are asking him to sign body parts now. Just like a rock star, but with a killer wheelchair [].

  • ...there's an article on kuro5hin [] which was written by the brother of one of the competitors.

    --Robert (the k5 karma whore ;^)=

  • While there are alot of teams competing through JPL, I would also like to point out that there are quite a few teams (3-6 I believe), including my schools team, competing with Goddard Space Flight Center (we run HST and such) as a sponsor. In fact, some people's senior projects at my school are designing parts using the huge manufacturing facility in building 5 at GSFC.
  • I believe Robot Wars is coming to the States smoetime later this year.

    Well, it is and it isn't. All the robot builders (like myself...heh) have to submit photos of your bot and bios. They will then pick a bunch of them, and you will get sent off to England to compete.

    As far as TV syndication stateside, TLC seems like a likely candidate.
  • I have competed in FIRST for 3 years, and if i learned anything in high school i would have to say it came from those years of competition. I would just like to note that FIRST isnt jsut about robots. The competition spans all areas of interest including logistics business and public relations... But its the time spent in the 'pit' that makes all the difference. Unfortunatly there are alot of corrupt teams and sponsors, e.g. teams that have full time engineers working on there robots, instead of students. That was one of the major things that pissed me off, to see other students out having fun running around like children while there sponsors and mentors are back in the pit with there heads into the robots. Let me tell you, there is nothing like the rush you get when your still bolting your robot together while your riding the cart to the playing field, 30 seconds befor the match begins. man it kicked ass
  • Just gotta say the guys and gals in orange of team 42 kick ass! And this isnt the first time FIRST has been on /.
  • There once was a man named Moulder who tried to through a boulder instead he tripped on a rock and grasped his own cock and threw himself over his shoulder.
  • Actually, they are remote controlled by 2 guys with controllers
  • This year as my HS schools gifted program, I got to go to my local magnet school (Live Oaks) for a drafting class every 2nd tuesday.
    They were building one of these for this competitin.
    2 things that seriously disoppionted me were
    1) It wasn't an actual robot, it was remote controlled
    2) These things are alot smaller than you think they would be.

    But it was still pretty neat,
    What they are trying to do is go around an obstacle court and collect balls, then bring them back to a pin in a certain amount of time
  • I have only been to two FIRST competitions, the Great Lakes Regional in 2000, and again in 2001. However, from these examples, simply to say it is a robotics competition does not serve it justice. I have many times described it as a combination of a dance party, a basketball game, and a science fair. It is truly one of the most unique atmospheres I have ever encountered. After the first day of competition, there was a dance party at a different part of the Eastern Michigan University campus. Although I was disappointed not only by the selection of music (nearly all rap), but by the DJ-imposed ban on moshing (how the hell else do you "dance" to Nirvana?), it was still a great experience. Dean Kamen, the founder, and inventor of a portable dialysis machine, IT, et al, made an appearance at the 2000 competition. I don't know if all the regional competitions are like this, but interested high school students should look into it. Even if your school doesn't have a team, it is not hard to just create one. Our team started two years ago when my friend Val convinced our local school board to give us $5,000 (the entry fee). Usually, however, a sponsor is corporate (as ours was this year). Anyone high school student with the slightest interest in robotics and the tiniest motivation should definitely look into this. The official web site is at Go team 451!
  • Robot != Autononomous

    Not all robots are autonomous robots.

    Making an autononomous robot changes the competition completely. For one, the robots would be a lot slower. Also, the problem to be solved would be a LOT simpler. This shouldn't disappoint: The problem of making a remote-controlled robot to do a complex task is just as hard or harder than making an autonomous robot do easy task.
  • Yea but what will controll it, Linux or BSD? good luck trying to settle that one.
    I love my iBook. I use it to run Linux!
  • Sure, these robots might be smart... But let's see them in a fight to the death against Sergeant Bash, Death Metal and Matilda - the Robot Wars house bots...

    Crush!!! Crush!!! Cut!!! Rend!!! Kill!!!

    I believe Robot Wars is coming to the States smoetime later this year. If you like robots and think you might enjoy seeing one smash another to pieces, check it out...

    P.S. For background research on the presenter, Craig Charles, I would suggest a lengthy session of Red Dwarf watching.. tee-hee ;-)

  • You can get this stuff 3 times a week on cable.
  • and they'll discover it a year and a half later only to say that they'll make no attempt to bring it home.

  • I was wondering when FIRST would get some coverage on /. A bunch of my friends are at the competition now, with our team's screwed up robot. Oh well. GO TEAM 246 (Overclocked)!! w00t!

  • ...just like all the TV shows, they're not robots, they're all remotely controlled. If you want to see a real robotics competition, go see the Trinity College Fire-Fighting Home Robot Contest [] in Hartford, CT in a couple weeks. There's also a few throughout the country sponsored by local clubs such as Seattle Robotics [].

    Don't get me wrong, FIRST is great. I wish it was available when I was in high school! And Dean Kamen is my hero...
  • Only loosely on-topic here but, on the subject of British TV being shown in the U.S:

    Have you seen Spaced []? It's a brilliant geek comedy. They have an episode with a wonderful piss-take of Robot Wars and Fight Club called "Robot Club".

    The first rule of Robot Club is: You don't talk about Robot Club!

  • It won't be long before one of the contestants wanders off, complaining, "I have a horrible pain in all the diodes down my left side."
  • by Shanep ( 68243 ) on Saturday April 07, 2001 @03:54AM (#308957) Homepage
    It will probably drive out of the ring, into the car park and onto the highway, get lost and all the while arguing with itself about metric vs. imperial.

  • by patrik ( 55312 ) <pbutler@kille[ ] ['rtu' in gap]> on Saturday April 07, 2001 @04:14AM (#308958) Homepage

    This is the coolest thing in HS. IF you're not in HS become a mentor and you can still build.

    If anyone else from the games sees this good luck, and come by Team 122's pit and ask for Patrik. Maybe we can start a /. Team next year. . .

    Patrik, Team 122
    Just your ordinary BOFH :)

  • by nhavar ( 115351 ) on Saturday April 07, 2001 @04:48AM (#308959) Homepage
    It should be noted somewhere that FIRST is a group started by Dean Kamen to get kids into science. He's got the whole idea that scientist should be revered like rock stars. I would say that slowly he's getting his wish.

    These competitions are drawing crowds of thousands and seem to be harder to contain to highschool football fields and gyms. A big shift in the culture at least here in the US is happening. There are now 3 robot competitions on TV (BattleBots, Robotica, and Robotwars) with rumors of a fourth coming along. More and more toys are turning to scientific pursuits. The majority of people I know through work, church, and web spend most of their TV time watching TLC/Discovery/History channels instead of MTV/AllyMcBeal/Buffy.

    While I think sports are good for our youth I wish that arts and sciences could get equal funding. And while the argument is that arts and science don't bring people in and get them involved and winning science teams don't seem to get people willing to part with money, I think that events like these disprove that.

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.