Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Race of the Caltech robots

Competitors at Caltech maneuver their robots to scoop up ping-pong balls before crawling up a ramp and depositing them in “scoring receptacles.”

Combine a land shark with a paddle-wheel boat, spice it with servo motors and radio transceivers, mix with water and what have you got? At Caltech, you have the year's biggest sporting event.

At Tuesday's competition, engineering students at the Pasadena campus operated hand-built robots and maneuvered them through an obstacle course that included concrete walkways, a shallow pond and a finish line atop an arching bridge.

A crowd of about 300 encircled Millikan Pond and cheered as the competing students hovered over remote controls and commanded their amphibious vehicles to toss competitors into the water, scoop up colored ping-pong balls, crawl up a ramp and deposit the balls into "scoring receptacles."

(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

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