Well, I did go to Robogames, I just never posted any of the photos until now. It was interesting to go with more of an interest in the autonomous robot competitions instead of the robot fighting competitions. But I have to say that no one really goes for the autonomous competitions unless they are actually competing or they are a parent of someone competing. Everyone really comes for the robots that fight and destroy each other. Which is kind of disappointing, I think. Don't get me wrong. I can't resist watching sparks and molten metal fly either. And while watching yet another humanoid robot trip over its own feet, it is really hard to stay when you hear the crash of combat and the roar of the crowd in the distance. But I did make a good effort to watch the autonomous competitions. Of course, it would have helped if there had been an actual schedule of competitions posted someplace. Or that when the winners for competitions were awarded/recognized, that there was some kind of announcement for the ceremony.
Things that intrigued me:
* RoboMagellan - These are outdoor robots that have to navigate to waypoints, identify an orange cone and then touch it. Doesn't sound that hard, but surprisingly few entries were able to do it. A couple did, others got close, others just ran off course at high speed. Lots of different designs and approaches. As I will mention in another post, I think this is a competition I am going to focus on for next year.
* Miniature Robot Combat - There was an incredible fly and lightweight division of fighting robots that fought in a tiny little arena that everyone could just stand around. And even though the robots were still remote controlled and not autonomous, I found those rounds of fighting more fun and interesting to watch. Maybe because it was more intimate. Or maybe because it just didn't require as much investment of resources to put together a decent fighting robot at that size. And it was fun to watch.
* Counter Revolution - I was sure that the fighting robot Counter Revolution was going to sweep the heavy weight class of fighting robots. Two high speed spinning clockwork disks of death that essentially chopped up and threw opponents across the combat ring. I have never been so glad for bullet proof plastics in my life. But then it was taken out by a mechanical failure and the other much less worthy robot won by forfeit. So, disappointing.
* Autonomous robots are hard to do right. One little slip and suddenly the robot is hugging a wall and can't get unstuck. Or the lighting is messing up your sensors and it can't even see straight. Or your programming is off and you slam into a wall at high speed. Or your motor burns out. Or...
* I would like to see autonomous fighting robots. Is it really that hard to do? Is it that the reaction times required or the battle strategies used can only be handled by biological triggers and human brains? Is hardware just not up to the task? I don't know, but I think it is a good time to start trying it out. Maybe at the smaller size levels at least.
But maybe next year, if there is a next year for Robogames (I hope there is, we don't have many outlets for robots around here), maybe there should be more of a separation and specific support for the autonomous games and the fighting/remote-controlled games. That way each gets the attention they deserve.