Like playing air hockey? You're going to love playing Bot Hockey!
Lightening fast, smashing, crashing, no-holds-barred robot hockey action with R/C controlled 12 kg robots. It's not unusual to have a whole nest of these robots jammed into the goal area so tight that they have to stop the action for a moment to clear up the dog pile.
Humanoid robots aren't cheap. The lowest price kit runs at least $700, and builders typically pay from $1,200 just to get started in the biped robot game. So, when they compete at an event like RoboGames, they tend to be a little cautious about breaking servos or brackets, at least until the official part of the competition is over.
But, once they can relax and not have to worry about missing their turn in the ring due to a broken part, they throw caution to the wind. All the robots, both lightweight and middleweight, get into the ring together. When they referee shouts "Start!", the robot rumble is on.
The game is extremely simple. Knock your opponents out of the ring and avoid the same thing happening to yourself. The Last Robot Standing wins.
Looking at all the creativity on display at RoboGames 2011, we were reminded once again of the intersection between art and technology, and what beauty can be created by fusing both in new and exciting ways.
One of our favorite "art bot" creations that doesn't happen to be on display at the event is Matthew Ricard's "Estrella Intersects the Plane". We met Matthew at the ITP Spring Show in New York last year.
His creation uses 40 servos, 80 RGB LEDs, hundreds of wires, plus considerable control electronics. Yet most of the "techie-stuff" is behind the scenes where it produces but doesn't interfere with the beauty of the experience.
The 8th annual RoboGames attracts teams from around the world to compete in 60 different events - from dancing androids to fire-breathing combat robots and autonomous cars to soccer playing droids.
The San Francisco Bay Area has long been a rich playground where hard working cogs in the startup machine wrestle valiantly in their cubicles with the coding questions of the ages. 51 weeks out of the year, it's humdrum workday solving the world's technology problems.
And then there's week 52 - RoboGames week...
In less that two weeks a major contingent from Robot Japan will land at San Francisco airport, rapidly cover the distance to San Mateo, unpack, deploy their robots, and prepare to amaze, delight, and entertain the crowds at RoboGames 2011.
They will be staging regular demonstrations several times a day at their booth in the main hall at RoboGames as well as competing in a host of events including Kung Fu, Freestyle, Robot Soccer, Mech Warfare, and many others. And, they fully expect to return home with their luggage stuffed with RoboGames metals.
You've seen many of their champion level robots on Robots Dreams and on television. Now you can see them in person and meet the builders that created them.
Here are just a few of the robots from Japan that will be at RoboGames from April 15th-17th:
A little over two years ago, just prior to RoboGames 2009, Andrew Alter and a few of his colleagues were toying around with the idea of battling robots, both multi-legged and humanoid. Since they were all dyed-in-the-wool Mech fans, they naturally thought it might be a lot of fun to try and stage a "Mech Warfare" competition.
Their first attempt turned out to be more fun, and much more of a challenge, than they ever dreamed. They did manage to stage some battles and certainly proved the concept. More important, they generated tremendous interest and excitement. Robots stomping through downtown, ambushing the opposing forces, fighting to the death using bullets (air-soft pellets), giving and asking no quarter. The excitement, and the adrenaline/testosterone was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Suddenly the other robot builders started to stand up and take notice. They wanted to play too!
One year later at RoboGames 2010, Mech Warfare had grown up quite a bit. The playing field was professionally constructed and looked just like a real city, albeit in miniature. The bots were better too. Their builders had learned a lot from the first competition and incorporated all their learning into their new creations.
Next month, on April 15th through the 17th, they're going back into battle. But this time there's a major difference. Mech Warfare at RoboGames 2011 in San Mateo will be the first time that battle robots designed from the ground up will take the field. These 3rd generation Mech's are hot for blood and they come completely equipped to win, no matter what. There are already 21 robots officially registered to compete, and there is still a week before the registration closes.
This is one competition you won't want to miss! We'll be there all three days, from the time the doors open until they kick us out at night. Be there!
Photo credit: Giger - Andrew Alter