ACS plans trip to Netherlands to compete against world’s best

Senior+Tara+Fan+is+one+of+sixteen+engineering+students+traveling+to+the+Netherlands+to+compete+in+the+Robocup+2013+competition.

Megan Beh

Senior Tara Fan is one of sixteen engineering students traveling to the Netherlands to compete in the Robocup 2013 competition.

Rachel Frenz

Hannah Scherer, Staff Writer

Hoping to capitalize on last year’s strong eighth place finish at the Robocup 2012 competition in Mexico City, Mexico, sixteen senior BSM ACS students are headed to Eindhoven, the Netherlands this summer to compete in the Robocup 2013 competition.

The five day event runs from June 26 to June 30 with several different categories for schools to enter in, such as search and rescue, home service, industry robots, and the original soccer idea. “[Robocup] is an association that started around 15 or more years ago to promote research. At the beginning, the idea within the robotics community and the autonomous programming and processing world thought it would be interesting to develop a full size humanoid robotic soccer team to compete in the world cup. It started with soccer” ACS teacher and trip advisor Mr. Timothy Jump said.

The Red Knight Roborescue Squad (RKRS) dedicates their time towards the search and rescue division of the Robocup held every year. The point of search and rescue is to develop robots that can enter disaster areas unable to be entered by humans and find survivors. “It’s about the push for artificial intelligence and using competition to stimulate research,” Mr. Jump said.

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It is an amazing opportunity to use what we have learned on a world stage and help me understand how engineering works around the world and give me a chance to be a part of an extremely talented team.”

— Tara Fan

Not only is BSM the only school representing the United States of America, but the Red Knight Roborescue Squad is the only high school team entered in Robocup in the entire world and has been for the past several years. “We’re the only high school in the competition internationally, competing against PhD students with research money. It’s not about the winning for us, it’s about the learning. It’s about getting these students ready to go to university and immediately getting started at the highest levels of research,” Mr. Jump said.

Out of the many students enrolled in the ACS program, sixteen were invited to travel to Eindhoven this summer. Seniors Nolan Ahlm, Matt Ambre, Rachel Binish, Alec Black, Ben Conley, Tara Fan, Sophia Flumerfelt, Samantha Hoch, Stephen Jacobs, Tyler Jacobsen, Daniel Letscher, Joseph McMahon, Jack Munkeby, Joe Pauly, Elle Scott, and Elizabeth Vertina are all ACS students who have put themselves above and beyond the normal student and ROBOCUP 2013 have been asked to make the journey with the team to the Netherlands.

“Out of the sixteen of us who are going, most of us are looking towards going into engineering in the future. [Mr. Jump] knows we take it seriously,” Robocup 2013 attendee Rachel Binish said.

In years past, the number of students set to go to the Robocup event has been much lower than the unusually high amount of participants for the 2013 event. “We generally like to keep it at ten or under, but this year there were too many good students. It was a remarkable year for talent,” Mr. Jump said.

Rather than wasting time rebuilding a new robot every year, the team will take the design RKRS teams have used for the past three years and revamp it, improving areas it lacked in and making average areas even better. The goal for the Red Knight robot is to be small and affordable for when this method of technology will actually be used in the disaster zones. “The goal of the research was to make cheap, affordable, almost toy-like robots that are dispensable and easy to produce. We’re one of the closest in the world on this throwaway robot,” Mr. Jump said.

The RKRS team has participated in 5 of the last 8 Robocup competitions, traveling around the world to Japan, China, Singapore, Turkey, and most recently, Mexico. The teams have gained two top ten finishes, their highest place being eighth in last year’s Mexico City competition, and two last place finishes at the international level.