Engineering II&#73 heads to China for Robot competition

Look out China; BSM’s Robot Operational Team (ROT) is on the way to compete in the 2008 RoboCup World Championship tournament in Suzhou. The ROT is made up of Engineering 3 students; seniors who are in their third year of Advanced Competitive Science (ACS).

The team will compete in the Rescue Robot League, where the robots are “designed to search for the survivors of a disaster; the event uses earthquake damaged buildings as a model for the course,” said Mr. Jump. Inside the house there will be varied terrain for the robots to get through and mannequins representing victims with different degrees of injury.

This is not the first major international trip for the ACS program; in 2005, the team took their robot to a competition in Japan where they finished tenth out of 25 teams. “Remember, these are all universities with PhD students we are competing against,” said Mr. Jump.

The team looked strong going into the finals, but according to Mr. Jump, they struggled in the final round, “The finals were very tough and exploited our communication weakness. We kept losing our signal to the robot.”

The team feels pretty confident about the competition, “We should have a pretty good chance. We have a strong team,” said senior Paul Nann. BSM will be the only team representing the United States; they will compete against teams from China, Germany, Greece, Japan, Mexico, Iran, Sweden, and Thailand.

“The goal of the rescue robot competitions is to increase awareness of the challenges involved in search and rescue operations,” stated the RoboCup site.

This year’s robot has not been named yet, but according to Mr. Jump it is “the best robot we have ever developed.” The robot is very complex; it has advanced mobility so it can climb over rubble and up stairs, a laser scanner for mapping and location, a compass for location and leveling, a thermal sensor for detection of heat signatures, a CO2 sensor for detection of human exhaust, a camera for video feedback, an ultrasonic system for navigation, and motion and sound sensors.

Programmer Tim Asp is very excited for the upcoming trip. “The robot is really great this year and the competition should be a tough test for us, but I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.

The chaperones for the trip will be Mr. Tim Jump, Mrs. Mary Andersen, and her husband, Mr. Marc Andersen. Mrs. Andersen has accompanied the team on all of their trips. She describes herself as a “natural chaperone because I’m a teacher and an administrator.”

“I really like the ACS program, I like that it causes the kids to think outside the box and solve problems,” said Mrs. Andersen.

The ACS program first started 11 years ago and has steadily grown since its inception; “The focus of ACS is to explore a different way of teaching and learning. The standard classroom does not mirror real life,” said ACS teacher Mr. Tim Jump.

The trip will be July 11 to July 23 even though the tournament is only from July 16-20 with practice days on July 14 and July 15. The extra days are for “jet lag, time zone change recovery time before the tournament begins, and some site seeing days afterwards,” said Mr. Jump.

The ROT is composed of several different smaller groups. The programmers are Jack O’Reilly, Matt Dickoff, Joe Tursich, Tim Asp, and Tommy Wisneski. The mechanical/chassis team is Erik Hoeg, Paul Nann, and Taylor Gunkel. The mechanical/arm team is Katy Gorilla, Page Mason, and Elena Schultz. The electrical team consists of Anna Wyatt, Molly Kelly-Goss, and Peter Enz.

Joe Kunitz, staff writer