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: Robots and dinosaurs as Japan holds 'Niconico' offline gala

Related Stories

Preventing a Fukushima disaster in Europe

1 minute ago

Improved safety management and further collaboration between experts is required to minimise the risk of flooding at coastal nuclear plants in Europe.

High court to consider lawsuits over personal data

31 minutes ago

The Supreme Court said Monday it will decide whether Web sites and other firms that collect personal data can be sued for publishing inaccurate information even if the mistakes don't cause any actual harm.

Did Kathmandu shift? Questions and Answers

37 minutes ago

The tremor which struck Nepal on Saturday, killing more than 3,500 people, may have caused a land area around the capital Kathmandu to budge by several metres, experts say.

Recommended for you

Japan eyes nuclear for a fifth of electricity supply

2 hours ago

A fifth of Japan's electricity supply should come from nuclear power generation, the country's industry ministry said Tuesday, despite widespread opposition in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster.

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.