Robot athletes vie for gold in Robolympics

By Justin Velasco

Substituting electric motors for muscles, copper wiring for
nerves, and computer programming for training and discipline,
engineering students and their robot athletes gathered in Building
9 for Cal Poly’s second-annual Robolympics competition on Friday,
Dec. 11.The event served as the culmination of months of design,
countless late nights, and hours of brainstorming, tweaking, and
test runs for the students of Professor Scott Boskovich’s robotics
class.Boskovich said he conceived the Robolympics as a way to push
his students to achieve more without hurting class morale.”If I
make them do something, they’ll hate me,” he said. “I pit their
egos against each other and it will best me every time.”He said
that while the games are scored, a robot’s performance has no
bearing on the student’s final grades. Each team only needed to
enter three events to receive an A. Taking home the gold is simply
a matter of bragging rights.Students were divided into teams and
spent the quarter designing, building and programming their robots.
Boskovich said that he provided the teams with guidelines, but that
everything else was up to them.All of the robots were similar in
size, about as big as a radio-controlled car, but varied wildly in
shape and structure. Most teams elected to give their robots four
wheels, but one had two large wheels and a rotating caster. Team
Sine Nomine’s robot trundled along on miniature tank treads and had
a wireless video camera that sent images to a projector and offered
a robot’s-eye view of the competition for spectators.The robots
competed in a series of five events, which consisted of a speed
trial, an endurance trial, tug of war, hide and seek and tag.Many
wins were by luck, with several robots breaking down or
disqualifying themselves, but a few teams proved time and time
again to be strong competitors.Philip Anderson, a fourth-year
electrical and computer engineering student, managed to tie for
third with Team Ace, despite facing some serious obstacles.
Anderson said he was surprised to be doing well in the events
because the rest of his team members had taken off for winter break
and left him to make all the last minute repairs that allowed him
to compete.”[Little Phil, the robot] wasn’t moving two days ago and
just last night it started line following,” he said. “I expected to
come in next to last.”Team Flash, led by Louay Fakhro, a fifth-year
ECE student, racked up the most points and was declared by
Boskovich to be the overall winner of the Robolympics and winner of
Best in Design.”That little robot just cooked,” Boskovich said.He
congratulated all of the teams on putting forth a solid effort and
said he was impressed by what he saw.”Last year was kind of crash
and burn,” he said. “The robots I’ve seen this year are
phenomenal.”Boskovich said as the competition becomes more popular,
he would like to expand it so his students can compete against
other schools, which he believes would bring more prestige to Cal
Poly.”[The students] win, but the school wins big.” he said. “Its
win-win-win.”

Robot athletes vie for gold in Robolympics

Paul Rosales/Poly Post

Robot athletes vie for gold in Robolympics

Robot athletes vie for gold in Robolympics

Paul Rosales/Poly Post

Robot athletes vie for gold in Robolympics

Robot athletes vie for gold in Robolympics

Paul Rosales/Poly Post

Robot athletes vie for gold in Robolympics

Robot athletes vie for gold in Robolympics

Paul Rosales/Poly Post

Robot athletes vie for gold in Robolympics

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