Tel Aviv – robotics competition Part 4 Competition

The competition is here!

Each round is only about two and half minutes, each robot has to scoop up a variety of coloured inflatables and place them on a peg, its a bit like basketball I guess.

The specification of each robot is roughly the same so the size of the chassis, and has a vertical section with some kind of arm, the movement can be with bicycle chain, wire pulleys or hydraulics.

An unusual part of the competition, is each robot has an extra mini-robot, looking like a rollerskate, this gets launched from an extra extending arm, put onto the these poles where it has to climb up and press the top activating a switch making a green light come on, for a massive bonus in points.   As you can expect this is a very difficult task to do in a short space of time, as well as implement into the design of the robot.

My job here was simply as a marshal to gather the shapes and put them on the side in between each game.  There are teams come out after each tournament to load their robot onto a trolley and take back to the pit.  These things look like giant bagels!   The glasses are necessary in case pieces break off a robot, theres a lot of sharp metal bits in the inner workings there.

A lot of the judges have some engineering background, some of the Israelis work for famous names in IT such as Google and Hewlett Packard.  It was good to chat about humorous connections to Futurama (looks like Tel Aviv at the beginning credits of this show!) and I-Robot as well 🙂

The winners!

This was absolutely superb event to be part of, and as Christian and an IT person to participate in this event, I think its humbling that the Lord God gives some of us Christian volunteers extra ways to serve him in doing different and exciting challenges.  I hope this event continues on to help young people with curiosity for technology in a sporting team event and helps this country’s reputation as a place fertile in highly skilled engineers and problem solvers.

Part 1: Setting up at the arena
Part 2: Meet the robots
Part 3: Robot inner workings
Part 4: Competition

Tel Aviv – robotics competition Part 3 Extreme engineering

Left: There are a few mascots just like a big sports event, this fella (or lady, I couldn’t tell) in the orange costume can’t really see so needs someone to take him around 🙂 Right: Robots get brought in loaded in crates along with computers, tools and spare parts.

Left: These players reject conventional control methods with a handheld radio control with big springy aerials, instead moving around is done with a laptop.   This is part of a dedicated control panel, with the laptop fastened onto a wooden board with two or three conventional game joysticks for movement.  Each robot has a conventional wireless router which gets instructions from the operator.   When it is time for the team to play, they carry the control panel out with them.  There is a PC in the pit as well, some of them are showing CAD software with 3D models of robots and individual sub-assemblies.  Right: Oops, server error!

Batteries! think these are fairly common ones for wheelchairs.  These wheels are amazing!  They don’t look a common type of part, as each has a roller type piece set at 45 degrees, I am guessing they are designed to give enough traction over sand or gravel.

Top left: Lots of complicated stuff here, seem there are several discrete control systems that manage motors, pulleys and other bits.  Right: Each ‘pit’ is a domain for each robot team to test and service their robot, hold collection of parts and tools, have lunch, do male team bonding (actually there are girl engineers too) and also as a kind of geek’s dressing room.

I think the scissor type elevating robot is my favourite 🙂

It was great talking to the different teams, judges and mentors (mostly contestants from previous competitions)   Its phenomenal seeing the amount of creative talent that is here, especially as all the contestants here are very young (college age)

Part 1: Setting up at the arena
Part 2: Meet the robots
Part 3: Robot inner workings
Part 4: Competition

Tel Aviv – robotics competition Part 2 Meet the robots

Another 5am start – urrrgh….

But it was worth it also.   As the robotics event was already in full swing, I did get to miss out on the Lego event that happened earlier in the week sadly, as my colleagues from work were helping out on the monday and tuesday.

The electronic signs didn’t show English, but some other signs around the corner did show which gates at Jerusalem bus station are for which city.

Tel Aviv bus station is hugely complicated.   Its a bit reminiscent of the now gone Tricorn shopping centre in Portsmouth, UK, for its concrete angles.   When your bus gets there you are high up as its like a multistory car park, quite a clever design really and you have to use lifts or escalators or steps down.

I just seem to go round and round looking for an exit, and got into an abandoned wing of the shopping centre which looked a bit seedy and smelt of wee.  Got to like the “Parkings” sign!

Back at the Nokia arena, I got to visit some of the contestants there…

Meet the robots!  They are all made of mostly steel, weigh upto about 40 kilos, have an upright arm for grabbing objects, share the same control system (wireless by laptop)  and are sponsored by companies big and small.   There is a bumper, a rubber or foam insulator around the whole thing to protect from knocking into things.   I don’t know much about the rules and specs they had to be built to, but I do know they are not mean to attack each other or people 🙂

The teams are almost all Israelis, secular and religious Jews, Arabs and a team from the military too, plus was one foreign team from Bosnia.

Part 1: Setting up at the arena
Part 2: Meet the robots
Part 3: Robot inner workings
Part 4: Competition

Saturday afternoon cycling and robots

When I was a child, I had this dream where I was in a playground and all the other children had run off out of the school, I wasn’t sure what they worried about, I turn around and there is an evil robot coming towards me.  It was a weird nightmare I had a few times…

Today I decided to take a ride around my neighbourhood of East Talpiyot in other direction away from Jerusalem city centre.  I head to a convenience store and get a bottle of Fanta and ride back along the main road, towards the food bank which I work there typically one day a week. Anyway I am riding my bike across a junction where there are some traffic lights and I see a policeman stopping a coach and talking to the driver, he doesn’t see me and I ride past him, in the corner of my eye there is a policewoman and a police Ford Focus stopped diagonally at the traffic…    Then someone yells at me STOP three times….  At the same time I hit the brakes when I see what is ahead of me… If you can’t see anything, look closer at the taller white railings.  There is a garbage bin with usual piles of old clothes spilling out like I see on most street corners and about 15 metres ahead is a bomb disposal robot with caterpillar tracks and a single arm is analysing the piles of clothes…. I turn around and head to the opposite side of the road, the police don’t seem to be cross that I didn’t notice this road block. I get some pictures.   The robot is partially concealed by the barriers in the road. Apart from my childhood nightmare turning into a reality, this experience didn’t worry me too much, there are all kinds of circumstances where items abandoned in odd places start a security concern and procedures have to done to see if there is a genuine threat.   Its just I often see piles of rubbish falling out in bins like this. I talk briefly to two men sitting on a bench, its seems quite funny.   I take a detour to another street to go south towards out of Talpiyot. Another 5kms or so down the road, and this is a nice view of a very new housing estate, my maps tell me this is called Homat Shmuel. A little bit further and now I am completely out Jerusalem and I can see the border with the West Bank.

Border controls.  I take a U turn and head back on the main road.

This sign seems interesting.  This is pointing the another biblical place, seemingly named after a king who was famous for killing babies.  This adventure is for another day as I have no water left and ought to get back.

Just before going home, I did see these ruins which look Roman looking, from standing in Derech Hevron Street.