Desafio Robot Ciudad Artes Ciencias Valencia

Robots competing against robots. It could be yet another Schwarzenegger come back to the big screen, but I’m talking about the 6th Edition of Desafío Robot.

Organised by the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Desafío Robot is the glory day for hundreds of high school students coming to Valencia from all over Spain to put their yearlong technology projects to the test: building the ultimate olympic robot. As always, it takes place at the best venue for a robot challenge: the futuristic building of the Principe Felipe Science Museum of Valencia.

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The Principe Felipe Science Museum. A great example of alien architecture in Spain.

So when the great team from the City of Arts and Sciences invited me to become a judge for this year’s edition of Desafío Robot it was easy to say yes.

Briefly, here what Desafío Robot is about.

Categories: Lego and Free

Students can participate in two different categories, Lego or Free, depending on the materials involved in the construction of their robot.

Lego robots are built with Lego Mindstorm kits, whose hardware and software is based on the programmable brick created at the MIT Media Lab. The brick is programmed in Brick Logo.

 

A Lego Mindstorms Robot

A Lego Mindstorms Robot

Since all the Lego robots are built using the same kits they all looked very similar to each other, with minor variations of extra pieces here and there.

The robots in the Free category were much more creative and exciting. There was one of them built entirely with recycled components which featured CD-ROMs as wheels and was powered by the battery of a drill. I saw some Arduino boards, but also many other alternatives.

Challenges: Speed, Ability and Dance Off

Both, Lego and Free robots, compete in the same challenges.

The Speed challenge presents an intricate racing circuit consisting of a thick black line that the robots used as the racetrack, thanks to their IR sensors.

The best mark was 17 laps in 2 minutes, a record mark achieved by a robot from the Free category.

The goal of the Ability challenge was to push cans to the center of the ring. A total of 8 cans were placed in the middle of 8 thick black lines and the robots had 2 minutes to push in as many as they could.

It was inspiring to see the different techniques that students came up with in order to put the cans in the center of the ring. Some of them just pushed the cans, while others used the old cowboy technique of holding them with a lasso.

But the real creativity came with the Dance Off category. There were robots dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller; the recreation of the most epic Star Wars fight: Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader; and the winner, a bunch of robots recreating a famous Spanish folk dance. Impressive.

Watch this video of the Star Wars team testing their robots before the Dance Off competition begins.

Next year could bring some surprises

Desafío Robot is open to the public, so If you are in Valencia in late May, you should definitely go and check it out for yourself. From what I heard, there could be some new and exciting challenges for the next year that you won’t want to miss!

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