Battling Bots, More than Just Fun
UWG’s computer science folks were in the thick of combat during Dragon*Con’s Robot Battles in Atlanta this year.
Graduate student Robert Reid, of team Phoenix Rising, works on Lanmaster a few days before Dragon*Con.
The robots built by three student teams and one professor didn’t do so badly.
“Everyone lost the first round,” said Dr. Lewis B. Baumstark, an associate professor. He fielded his own bot, Upchuck, in the competition.
Things improved after that.
“We had a couple of good rounds,” Baumstark said. “We were able to survive and drive around for a little while. It was a good show. All the bots were able to compete in the Royal Rumble at the end. The important thing is that we had bots that worked.”
Baumstark’s Upchuck and the ones built by three teams of students – Team Shrewsbekistan fielded Wedge O’Tofu and Twisty, Team Phoenix Rising had Lanmaster and Team Turtle Alliance threw in Cheez-It - were put together in a couple of weeks. They were noisy. They clashed and crashed into each other. They broke down, lost pieces and had to be put together again.
The bots may look “like they’re hacked together -- because it’s parts we are putting together -- but it’s a lot of precision work,” said senior Ameen Kazerouni, a computer science and pre-med student.
“This helps us get students excited about the field,” Kazerouni said. “It’s great experience. It’s real-world experience because you are building these robots from scratch.”
Plus, it was a blast and sportsmanship at Dragon*Con was tops.
“People in the pits will help you in any way they can to get you running so they can destroy you on stage,” Baumstark said.
Next up is January’s Chattacon 37 competition in Chattanooga.
“We try to make it very hands-on here and the robot stuff flows from that,” Baumstark said. “This kind of do-it-yourself will carry over to professional work. Self-sufficiency: what better thing can we, as a university, teach them?”
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