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Latest News: News

GS Students Capture International Fire-Fighting Robot Competition Prizes

Monday, April 6, 2009  
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Three robotics teams of George School students participated in the sixteenth annual Fire-Fighting Robot Competition, capturing prizes in several divisions. A total of $1,400 in prize money was donated to next year’s robotic class.
The Flash team, including Eric Engelhardt '09, Checkie Chu '09, and Chun Wang '10, entered the competition with the first-ever George School walking robot and the only high school team to compete in this year's walking robot division. The Flash team took second place in the walking robot division, scoring higher than the MIT team, and earning first place in the Versa Valve Challenge for the walking division. Flash also won an Innovation Award at the Penn State competition.
The Space Oddity team was the only winning high school team from the United States. Team members Ernest Haines '09, Jake Vingless '09, Kabir Chopra '09, Miranda Tarlini '09, John Henneman '09, and Jarron Speller '09, created the first-ever George School robot with a 100% success rate, capturing third place in the high school division and first place in the Versa Valve Challenge for the high school division.
George School’s third team, Xin, included Sam Chang '10 and Dan Kolbman '11. The Xin robot experienced some extraordinary bad luck as their white-line sensor was so sensitive it detected a single white thread on the border of an otherwise black carpet. The robot mistook the thread for a white strip of tape which marked the entrance to all the rooms.
“This was a very special year for our teams,” said Physics and Robotics Teacher, and author of "BasicX and Robotics: The Art of Making Machines Think" Chris Odom. “In past international competitions, our best result was eighth place with only two successful runs.”
Hosted by Trinity College, the competition typically draws more than one hundred robotic teams from around the country as well as from Canada, Portugal, Israel, and China. Students work in teams to build and program their own fire fighting robots which must be autonomous, meaning they are intelligent decision-makers, able to operate independently without any human control.
During the competition, the autonomous computer-controlled robot must respond to a fire alarm, discover the blaze, and extinguish it in the shortest possible time. To accomplish that task, the robot navigates a maze that resembles a typical house, locates the fire (a burning candle), puts it out (using water, carbon dioxide, or the like), and returns to home base.