RoboGames Is Back in 2015 (With Your Help)

Help Kickstart one of the most awesome robot competitions ever

2 min read
RoboGames Is Back in 2015 (With Your Help)

The year 2013 was, as far as we knew, the last year for RoboGames. This was very, very sad, because there was really nothing like RoboGames: it was unique among robot competitions, not just because of the robot combat (although the robot combat was pretty darn awesome), but because of the enormous variety of events and the inclusiveness that encouraged people from all ages, with any level of experience, and from all over the world to attend and participate. And people did: 54 separate events, teams from nearly two dozen countries, and tens of thousands of spectators over the last five years. It gave aspiring roboticists structure, a goal, and rewarded them for effort and creativity. Oh, and it was a huge amount of fun to watch.

And then it vanished after the 2013 event, never to return.

Until.

Now.

If you help them out with just a little bit of money, that is.

Here’s the KickStarter video:

Yeah, the video is a tad rough, but if you help make RoboGames happen, they’ll put together a production team, camera people, equipment, and everything that’s necessary for a glorious high definition video of the event. Hopefully, that’ll include some unique footage that you wouldn’t get to see otherwise, by allowing remote cameras inside the arena, and perhaps even on the bots themselves:

And besides combat, RoboGames also hosts exhibitions and competitions for all kinds of other robots, from humanoids:

To remotely piloted airsoft mechs:

The Kickstarter has been up for less than a day, and it’s already a third funded. $25 will get you a digital download of the heavyweight combat, and pledging more gets you perks like reserved seats at the event itself in San Francisco in the spring of 2015, cool swag, robot kits, and the chance to drive a heavyweight robot in the competition itself.

Really, though, what’s most important is making sure that RoboGames is a success, so that it can keep on inspiring kids (and adults) to get themselves into science, engineering, and robotics:

Worth it.

[ RoboGames ]

The Conversation (0)

How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

11 min read
Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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