Me and a couple of other O.R.E. members spent the weekend in Hartford, Connecticut at the Trinity Firefighting Competition. It was my 8th year attending. Wow, time flies. As always, it was a blast. There is some sort of geek pheromone that permeates the air in the gym down there and always gets me geared up for building robots!
I’m terrible at remembering to take pictures, but I managed to grab a few interesting ones.
Below is a nicely built walking robot. Looks can be deceiving though… they didn’t do very well in the end.
This team from Indonesia on the other hand was unstoppable. They virtually dominated the robowaiter division, taking first in the Advanced and both 2 and 3rd in the regular division. They also took first and second in the walking firefighter division, as well as first and second in the senior firefighting division. Wow!
The red walker had some nice ball joints on the ends of the legs with small feet that could pivot and had some silicone(?) on the bottom for grip. Looked like it would give the robot a decent amount of stability even on less than optimal floor.
This next robot is more of the normal robot that you see at the competition. Masses of wiring everywhere. I don’t know how this robot did, but as the results from each year show, many robots fail to find a single candle. How many of those failed runs are due to a single wire getting pulled out while walking from their table to the area? 😉 Too many, I bet.
The Chinese team has been coming with the fastest robots for the last few years. Many of them are built on a common base from Grandar. The ones this year were largely built on the xPartner MF2001 base. It is a pretty nice little 4 wheel drive platform and really hauls butt. One problem that many of them have is getting 3 consistent runs in a row. It looks like much of the behaviour in the robots is largely preprogrammed and if anything goes wrong, the robot bounces around the maze like a pingpong ball in a wind storm. When everything goes right though, these things look incredible. I’m still trying to figure out how to get my hands on those red flame sensors that they use.
Here is a shot from the stands just before the opening ceremonies for the Robowaiter competition on Saturday. At the lower left you can see the standard division robotwaiter arena. The advanced arena has a fridge that needs to be opened and is a bit tougher. Only 1 robot was able to complete the advanced arena this year.
Another shot of the Indonesian robot that won the advanced robotwaiter. The entire plate grabber arm was mounted on a mechanism that could move back and forth independently from the rest of the robot. That meant that they could drive the robot up against the fridge and be out by a few inches one way or the other, and then position the arm exactly at the plate. Much easier to position an arm than to put the robot in the right position to start. Very slick. You can see the two halves of the plate grabber… looks like the shell of a ladybug or something. They formed it out of something along the lines of a melted pop bottle. Covering the whole thing when carrying the plate meant that they could move faster without having to worry about spilling the food. Nice!
Here we have a shot of the pits. There is always lots of last minute building. 😉
Here is a photo of one of the Indonesian firefighter robots. They were using water to put out the flames from what I could tell (two jets coming from the left and right) and then using the fan mounted a little further back to give the water spray a little turbulence and ensure the candle went out. I didn’t get to see these guys run, but it must have worked well given their final standings in the senior division!
A closer pic of their walker. This thing looked really cool when it was moving. Quite fast too.
Firefighting competition underway on Sunday. About half-way through at this point I believe.
And finally a few pictures of the Expert division firefighting arena. Instead of a single flame, this arena can have multiple flames, both in rooms as well as the hallways. It also has some incredibly hard-to-detect obstacles. This was the first year of this arena and it looked tough. There were 3 robots entered and none of them made it very far unfortunately. Lots of room for improvement next year!
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