University of Rochester

Battling Robot Triumphs in First Rounds of DIY Channel Competition
EVENT: UR Students in National Battling Robot Rivalry on the DIY Channel

TIME, DATE, AND PLACE: 9 p.m., Friday, April 23, Do-It-Yourself Channel, channel 432

April 22, 2004

University of Rochester students compete against Worcester Polytech Institute to build a robot on demand to cut a patch of grass without the use of spinning blades or wires. The teams had to build the robots from available parts and the Rochester team, headed by computer science undergraduate Thomas Kollar, built an interesting machine that was able to cut more grass than Worcester Polytech's. The win advanced Rochester to the next round, which entailed building a robot to catch rodents. The Rochester team prevailed in the second round against Iowa State (to be aired on May 28), and advanced to face Union College.

Specific episode details from the Do-It-Yourself Channel listing is included below. Pictures of the contestants and their robots are available.

Lawn-Mowing Robots:
Episode Description: Teams from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Rochester are asked to design and build a robot that can (1) move within an enclosed area and cut grass (2) without the use of traditional spinning blades or wires. Both robots compete well, but WPI chooses speed over accuracy and pays the price in the end. Rochester cuts more grass and advances to the next round of Robot Rivals.

Rodent Catching Robots:
Episode Description: Teams from the University of Rochester and Iowa State University are asked to design and build a robot that can (1) maneuver inside a holding pen and (2) catch and contain as many robotic rodents as possible. Rochester designs a robot with a pneumatic flap that sweeps rodents up into a dishwasher tray storage bin, and Iowa State constructs a robot with a rodent-retrieving mechanism consisting of two spinning wheels set slightly apart such that rodents are caught up between them and propelled into the onboard holding bin. Iowa State's "Cy III" is a beautiful machine, but things get ugly when a guardrail bends over the mouth of the retrieval mechanism. In the meantime, Rochester's "Rat Snatcher" does some serious rodent wrangling and walks away with the win. University of Rochester advances to the next round of competition and one step closer to the Robot Rivals Championship.