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Speed and Agility Are Key in Head-to-Head Robot Competition

Autonomous student-designed robots will battle it out May 14

  • ‘Robot Wipeout’ is free and open to the public
  • Engineering undergrads have worked for five months on robots
  • Challenge is to find another robot and knock a cup off it
  • Teams compete for cash prizes and ‘elegant engineering’ award named for late alum

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Ten autonomous robots will attempt to outmaneuver each other to win at “Robot Wipeout” Saturday, May 14, as they and their student designers compete in the 25th annual Design Competition at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering

This year, speed and agility are key as robots go head-to-head in an event that is a play on the TV game show “Wipeout.”

Free and open to the public, “Robot Wipeout” will start at noon at the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center, 2133 Sheridan Road, on the Evanston campus. Hundreds of spectators attend every year to cheer on the competitors. (Evanston campus map.) 

During the one-on-one final competition Saturday, each robot will attempt to find a robot driven by its competitor and knock a cup off it, while dodging obstacles and trying not to fall off the side of the arena.

Teams of undergraduates from a variety of engineering fields have spent five months designing, building and programming their robots. Some teams are fielding classic robot designs with lasers and ultrasonic sensors; others are deploying Nerf darts and rubber-band shooters.

The event is expected to last three hours, concluding with an awards ceremony. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three teams, with first place receiving $1,000. 

One team also will be honored with the annual Myke Minbiole Elegant Engineering Award, named for McCormick alumnus Minbiole, who worked as an engineer until being killed in a hit-and-run collision in 2007. The Minbiole family will present the $500 award.

VIDEO: Get a flavor of the fun by following a team and its robot in the 2012 event.

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