Beaver-like robots face off in annual MIT contest

May 12, 2008
Beaver-like robots face off in annual MIT contest
Students robots in this year's 2.007 contest held at MIT competed in performing beaver-like tasks, including knocking down pool noodle 'trees' and dumping them in a ping-pong ball 'river,' to score points. Photo / Donna Coveney

Robots designed to toss pool-noodle trees into a river of ping-pong balls ruled over competitors focused on rescuing fuzzy toy beavers in this year's 2.007 contest, "Da (yes) MIT, or Save the Baby Beavers," held on Thursday, May 8, in the Johnson Athletic Center at MIT.

The student machines were designed and built for the MIT mechanical engineering course, Introduction to Design and Manufacturing. Each was required to perform beaver-like tasks--knocking down trees, gathering food in the form of street hockey balls--while warding off competitors in 45-second rounds. Contestants used PlayStation controllers to drive their autonomous 'bots.

The top four 2.007 winners are all sophomores in mechanical engineering. Gregory Tao used the tree-toss strategy to win the contest, defeating Ethan Huwe in the final rounds of the two-night adventure in extreme engineering.

Aaron Ramirez, a persistent high scorer, came in third in the contest yet triumphed in couture: He wore an Iron Man suit made of blue foamies, a snap-together toy, for the evening. Radu Gogoana took fourth place.

All will travel to Brazil this summer to participate in the annual International Design Contest, a global version of MIT's 2.007 in which students from different countries form engineering design teams and build robots.

Alexander Slocum, professor of mechanical engineering, emceed the event, mixing his signature auctioneer's patter with a message about why the contest and MIT students' excitement about hands-on engineering is so important.

"MIT is the world university, and when kids work together this way I know there's hope. This is what the future of the planet is about--experimenting, testing, failing and playing with ideas. That's how learning takes place," he said. "That's how deep geek-dom turns into cool technology."

Slocum, who has run the 2.007 contest and taught the Introduction to Design course for more than a decade, added energy-awareness as an engineering principle this year, he said.

Notably absent were the massive plywood and lumber contest tables of previous years. The robots now run on the floor, saving wood and other materials.

"This is our first attempt to do a green contest. We've saved materials by using the floor, and other MIT programs like MITES and the Edgerton Center will use the scoring furniture. Everything is recycled," Slocum said.

Yet the spirit of invention prevails. As Slocum put in his wrap-up of 2.007 for 2008, "The machines, the students, it's all geek-alicious. It's geek-aliciously manufacturistic robustification."

Source: MIT

Explore further: Researchers develop two-legged robot that walks like an animated character

Related Stories

Architects to hatch Ecocapsule as low-energy house

1 hour ago

Where people call home depends on varied factors, from poverty level to personal philosophy to vanity to community pressure. Ecocapsule appears to be the result of special factors, a team of architects applying ...

California farmers agree to drastically cut water use

5 hours ago

California farmers who hold some of the state's strongest water rights avoided the threat of deep mandatory cuts when the state accepted their proposal to voluntarily reduce consumption by 25 percent amid ...

Apple may deliver ways to rev up the iPad, report says

5 hours ago

MacRumors last month said that the latest numbers from market research firm IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker revealed Apple stayed on as the largest vendor in a declining tablet market. The iPad ...

Recommended for you

Researchers develop intelligent handheld robots

9 hours ago

What if handheld tools know what needs to be done and were even able to guide and help inexperienced users to complete jobs that require skill? Researchers at the University of Bristol have developed and ...

Robot walker for elderly people in public spaces

May 22, 2015

Elderly people with walking difficulties are often intimidated by busy public places. This led an EU research project to develop a robot walker to guide them around shopping centres, museums and other public ...

Standard knowledge for robots

May 20, 2015

What do you know? There is now a world standard for capturing and conveying the knowledge that robots possess—or, to get philosophical about it, an ontology for automatons.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

lengould100
not rated yet Jun 11, 2008
AKA "What would geeks do with a gymnasium?"

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.