A future where robots perform daily tasks for people might still be a little ways off, but a glimpse into that world came to campus over the weekend.
The Ohio State College of Engineering hosted its 25th annual robot competition, Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors Robot Competition, Saturday at the RPAC, which featured 253 first-year engineering students’ handmade robots.
The yearly competition gives first-year engineering students a chance to showcase their cornerstone design projects: autonomous robots designed to perform specific tasks for the competition all on its own. Once the students set down their robot, they no longer have control over what it does.
“We had about 71 days to build a robot from scratch,” Yang Huang, a first-year in computer science, said. “It’s basically like an obstacle course.”
Each year, the competition has a different theme and course; this year was centered around arcade-era games.
The arcade-themed competition went from noon to 6 p.m. and included a round-robin competition, single elimination tournament and awards presentation.
This year’s course was designed to challenge teams to prepare an arcade for a day of business and tasked robots with arcade-themed objectives.
“It has to deposit a token into a coin slot, push a red or blue button depending on what color light is shown, move a foosball slider, flip a lever and hit another button,” Huang said.
Huang and his team named their robot Kermit, as their class received the arcade-themed title of Frogger, an arcade game invented by Konami in 1981.
Aside from the fun theme, Alex Jacobs, a third-year in computer science and volunteer for the competition, said the robot competition brings a sense of pride to the engineering community.
“I’d say this is the most unique thing at OSU,” Jacobs said. “There’s no class like this that you can do.”
Jacobs said the robot competition also provides engineering students with the knowledge to succeed in the real-life engineering world.
“You’re on a team; you have checkpoints you have to meet, and you have a lot of constraints you have to go through,” Jacobs said. “It’s like a real-life project. And it’s really fun.”
At the end of the competition, small scholarships funded by corporate sponsors were awarded to winners in a variety of categories including consistency, head-to-head performance, innovation, engineering, aesthetics, documentation and gracious professionalism.