Tuesday, January 19, 2016

MN Tech Challenge Robotics

Last Sunday I braved the cold to check out the MN Tech Challenge Robotics at Mayo High School in Rochester Minnesota where I had graduated from a few years back, OK more than a few years ago. I also try to observe the MN Jr FIRST LEGO League competition once a year. About three years ago I had purchased a NXT Lego Robotics kit which I am still learning the basics with. MN Tech Challenge robots are larger and more advanced.

Robot Competition

In this article I am providing many links that will explain these sophisticated robots much better than I can. For this year there was a change in computing equipment used in the robots and the programming language.  Instead of using the processing unit of the NXT robot the new Tech Challenge robots use an Android phone unit programmed in the popular JAVA programming language that is used for so many applications. Students building a robot of this type will learn so many things electrical, electronic, mechanical and computer programming.

Android Phone Seen in this Image

Good Crowd of Spectators

At the competition I ran into the executive director of Hightechkids Cheryl Moeller that I have known for several years and she gave me an overview of the program. She introduced me to several people but I remember best talking to the young ladies that make up the robotics team “Iron Maidens”. In talking with them just a few minutes I picked up the excitement they had for the program and especially the outreach where they speak to other groups about robotics. In doing a search I found out they won the “Inspire Award” which is the highest award an FTC Team can receive.

High Tech Kids
Iron Maidens Gave Me Team Button

I am not going to provide an accurate description of exactly what the robots do in competition but it is my understanding the robots performs a portion of the task with no outside control and most of the time they are controlled through a joystick controller. There were balls and cubes that were pushed around and then the robots would try to go up a steep ramp. Some of them were shooting out a tape measure to hook a bar behind the ramp.

Climbing Steep Ramp

Bill Kuhl

Resource Links

MN Tech Challenge - High Tech Kids

Iron Maidens on Google Page

Iron Maidens Win Inspire Award 

Matrix Robot Components

Tetrix Robot Components

Wikipedia About JAVA Programming Language

About the Android Programming and Hardware Interface

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