Robots from around the globe head for world championship at LTU Saturday

Release Date: May 10, 2016

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Hundreds of students on 176 teams from all over the world will spend the weekend in Southfield Friday and Saturday, May 13 and 14, for the Robofest World Championships on the campus of Lawrence Technological University.

On Friday, there will be two robotics competitions, including one where competitors won’t be told the task their robot must accomplish until game time. On Saturday, the Robofest World Championships will begin at 9 a.m., and awards presentations and the closing ceremony are scheduled to begin between 3 and 4 p.m., depending on the number of rounds required to break ties between competitors.

The event is free and open to the public. The venue is LTU’s Don Ridler Field House. Ample free parking is available in nearby lots. For directions, visit www.ltu.edu/map.

Those attending who wish to register may serve as judges for People’s Choice Awards, and will be entered into a raffle for prizes, including an Amazon Echo and tablet computers. LTU President Virinder Moudgil will offer opening remarks, and LTU Provost Maria Vaz will attend the closing and awards.

Robofest was developed in 1999 by CJ Chung, professor of mathematics and computer science at Lawrence Tech. The competition is now global, with teams coming to the World Championships from Canada, Colombia, China, Egypt, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, and Korea, as well as the United States. More than 20,000 students have participated in Robofest since its founding.

“In Robofest programs, students have to think a lot more to make robots think,” Chung said.

Robofest is unique in that competitors can use whatever type of robot they choose to complete a task – and can even invent their own tasks. It’s three competitions in one. In the Exhibition category, students can use their imaginations to design robots to accomplish a task they choose. In the Game category, robots compete to successfully play a game in the fastest time. The game changes each year to keep the competition fresh.

This year’s Game competition was RoboGolf. Robots had to be able to find the green on a golf course – actually, patches of green paper on an eight-foot table – locate a golf ball on the green, and putt the ball into the hole. Each table had four “greens” in different positions and four golf balls. Teams were scored for how close they got to the hole on each shot, and how quickly they shot the four balls.

In addition, the Robofest Vision Centric Challenge for advanced high school and college teams requires the use of computer vision with camera sensors.

The competition also differs from other robotics events in that Robofest robots operate entirely autonomously, with no human control once they are programmed – the way most robots operate in the real world and will continue to do in the future.

For more information, visit www.robofest.net.

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