What would a Maker Faire be without robots?! Well, we have a variety of robots and robotics exhibits and talks (see below). But the larger robots that attendees are going to get to drive (and that will be located in Robot Grotto off the Studio One Building), are at the fair in large part due to the Bay Area student robotics club community.
First, there’s three FIRST Robotics teams. One is the Scotbots from Piedmont High School. Two are Terra Nova Robotics from Terra Nova High School in Pacifica.
FIRST is a worldwide robotics competition program. There are 350,000+ FIRST teams around the world, and over 100 in the Bay Area. It is very organized, with five different levels:
- FIRST Robotics Competition for Grades 9-12
- FIRST Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12
- FIRST LEGO League for Grades 4-8
- Junior FIRST LEGO League for Grades K-3
- FIRST Place for ages 6 to adult
All the Scotbots and Terra Nova teams are FTC or FIRST Tech Challenge robots. The organizing principle for the FIRST competitions is that every year the FIRST parent entity announces that year’s design challenge. One year it might be about a robot climbing a structure and flinging frisbees through certain size slots. Another might be shooting baskets with basketballs. From the FIRST website:
Teams of up to 10 students are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots to compete on a 12 X 12’ field in an Alliance format against other teams. Robots are built using a TETRIX® platform that is reusable from year-to-year using a variety of languages. Teams, including Coaches, Mentors, and Volunteers, are required to develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles. Awards are given for the competition as well as community outreach, design, and other real-world accomplishments.
FIRST was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, an inventor and entrepeneur who designed and built the Segway, those self-balancing two-wheeled people mover machines.
These teams travel globally to compete. The Terra Nova team is bringing a state champion robot! And attendees of all ages will be allowed to drive some of these competition bots!
The other cool student-oriented robot group coming to the fair is UC Berkeley’s PIE (Pioneers in Engineering). PIE is a UCB student club that provides a quality STEM learning experience for students in underserved Bay Area high schools. They offer a year-long mentorship program called Prep and an annual 8-week robotics competition. For just $100 per team, they provide a robotics kit that’s fully designed and developed in-house, as well as trained college student mentors for each team. Super awesome program! (And speaking of UC Berkeley, thanks to them and their School of Engineering for coming in as lead sponsors of the 2013 East Bay Mini Maker Faire!)
Here’s a video of the Oakland Tech High School winning moment at the 2013 PiE final:
There will be a whole lot of other robotics oriented makers and presentations at the fair, including:
- Arxterra Telerobotic Communities
- The Tea Engine
- Julia Morgan School for Girls Engineering Programs
- Aritifist Robotics
- Drones, Planes, and Flying Robots
- Multirotors 101
- Getting Started with Arduino (time to be confirmed today)