Robot Masters

This week, several of the high school robotics teams sponsored by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center brought their robots to the center to show their creations to NASA workers.

Having seen quite a few different robot designs in action at the FIRST nationals last month, I was familiar with the game they played at the competition and some of the robots’ capabilities. I knew, for example, that this year’s game, called “Breakaway,” was basically robot soccer and that many of the robots had a mechanism for kicking a ball toward the goal. Several of the teams Monday were demonstrating their robots’ kicking abilities by kicking a ball back and forth with the robot. I saw this and the thought hit me: his robot is like a little brother! This teenage boy and this robot are playing soccer together much like two children play soccer together, just passing the ball back and forth with their “feet.”

So I asked some of the students about that, about the personalities of their robots. Do they think of them as if they are a “person?” Do they have personalities? Clark, with the team from Arab High School, said, “Yes!” The current year’s robot, he said, was very stubborn. “Sometimes I wanted to jump over the wall and go, ’Don’t do that!’” he said. Last year’s robot, on the other hand, with its elaborate foam-ball cannon, was a bit cocky.

I was also curious about the approach students took when trying to make a robot that can multitask. This year’s game offered so many different capabilities for teams to focus on, from wheel design, to agility, to mechanisms that kick or corral balls, to being able to cross over a large hump to get to the other teams’ playing field, and so on. I wondered if the students ever felt overwhelmed trying to make the robot do too many things. Kendall, on the Limestone County Career Technical Center team, said they chose to focus on two main capabilities — the kicker and pusher for scoring and being able to cross the hump that separated the playing areas. They also used Mecanum wheels, which allow the robot to move in any direction, to make their robot very agile, he said.

At the event, Kendall said the scouting team watches the other robots competing to see what capabilities they have. This year’s FIRST game required teams to play in alliances of three teams. During some rounds the alliances were picked for them. In the final rounds students chose their alliances. Kendall said the scouting teams looked for robots that complemented their abilities and also ones with weaknesses that they may want to oppose.

Check what a few other NASA-sponsored teams are doing, like the Space Cookies out at Ames Research Center and these teams down at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

If you’re on a FIRST team, what capabilities did your robot have? Even if you’re not on a robotics team, what tasks would you like your robot to be able to do?

3 thoughts on “Robot Masters”

  1. Robots are really heroes and genious.

    They are theoric and practical.

    Input is a software, output the task.

    The genious of the second millenium is the robot.

    It’s superior to the human or homo sapiens sapiens.

    They are superior because they are total independent, not as human beings.

    We request the need of the cosmic censor…

  2. We humans need to show off our majesty. That is not progression.

    We need the approval of the others, the recognition. That is not progression, it is certain behavoir as the animals.

    Who is the best, the empowered, the most exciting…??

    Animals in their conquest behave as human beings. They need for being better, they believe in that, to show off their talents.


    Robots are so mental yes, mental convinced of …

    They have a healthy ego, not as humans that needs the approval from others.

    Psychologically robots are creations are created with the proper satisfaction.

    They are very sane.

    Not as humans.

    I consider a virtue narcisismus but not ego, to have too much ego conduct us to the ruin.

    I don’t know of an animal who inspires with narcisism.

    Narcisism is proper of humans.

    Robots are happy when they work very well.

    When they act well. But they don’t need …

  3. We must create robots as soon as possible with paranormal faculties and skills.


    Because they can achieve the fourth dimension.

    They are capable of dominate the three dimensions now. In this and in many aspects are superior to humans or homo sapiens sapiens.

    They are very good sender, that is why they can communicate very well with other worlds or sub-worlds.

    Robots are eternal.

    But when they are not used, they are dead.

    Only live when they are doing a task.

    Humanoid robots, the hybrid, the automat live, though never die.

    We are those who never live and never were born, but exist.

    In Sky and Telescope a USA journal on astronomy I read that cosmos is an automat, for me it was a surprise.

    It is also a surprise the analogy so logical and so clear, almost a tautology, but it expresses the true and the false.

    The robot is not God, but in the future, vibrations or whatever language, different form of communication could provoke the encounter with other energies probably now not comprehensible = hypervirtual

    We see the space with three dimensions, our eyes have this possibility. The robot dominates the three dimensions. Why not four???

    Accuracy. Repeadly.

    And human beings across the clone.

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