2011 Firefighting competition at Trinity College

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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4 Responses to 2011 Firefighting competition at Trinity College

  1. Pingback: Ottawa Robotics! « Mambohead

  2. sailmaster says:

    Most of the robot kits are impressive due to the speed and look, but the overall competition was dominated by a plain Lego robot that won the biggest prize for the overall performance.
    Check out the Firemonster robot at
    Trinity College Firefighting Competition 2011 – Best Overall Performance

    • Aaron Ramsey says:

      Nice work! You guys were running on the opposite end from where I was so I didn’t get to see any of your runs unfortunately. I tried your website but it looks like you guys still have that in development. I guess they had different prizes for kit based robots versus custom robots in each division?

  3. sailmaster says:

    You are right. Most of the competition prizes are assigned separately per division (Junior, Walking, High School, Senior and Expert) and category (unique or kit). The classification per category is done by the team at registration time, but ultimately, the judge can decide to change the category if the registered category does not fit the robot. This can be a gray area, as it is not very clear where the boundary between category it is.
    ============Official Rules=======================================
    1.2.1 Guidelines for Kit and Unique Robots

    Each team must indicate whether their robot is a kit robot or a unique robot, with characteristics as listed below, when registering it for the contest. Note that paint, stickers, and other non-functional components will not transform a kit robot into a non-kit robot.

    Kit Robots

    1. May be constructed primarily from a single commercial kit, or
    2. Share mechanical design with another robot – even if is not commercial, or
    3. Share other major features with another robot.
    In cases 2 and 3 above, both of the similar robots will be considered as kit robots.

    Unique robots

    Are constructed from a unique assortment of parts or
    May use some components from a kit, but the overall design is unique.
    The final prize for “The Best Overall Robot Performance” it is unique and goes across all the division.

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