Hobby Robotics Club and The O’BLADErator Fly West for International Competition

5/3/2011

This year, for the first time in Stevens’ history, the Hobby Robotics Club competed in the 2011 International RoboGames located in San Mateo, California.

The largest robot convention in the world, people of all different ages come from around the world to compete in the more than 50 events at the convention. The Hobby Robotics Club participated in the “Combat Bots” competition in the 220-weight class.

Evan Feil '14, who serves as the Club’s president, joined Hobby Robotics his freshman year when the club had only a few members and no real foundation. As the 2011 RoboGames approached, he saw an opportunity for the club to show what they are all about.

The Club has been working on their robot since September 2010, sketching, designing, and creating YouTube videos to show their progression. Dean of Student Life, Ken Nilsen, provided the team use of the Davidson Laboratory where they could workshop the robot.

“Creating the robot we needed the space that the lab provided,” Kevin Furlong '14, vice president of the club, said before the competition. “We were so excited to do something new. The members of the club put so much hard work into development and it will be nice to see how it ends up performing.”

The Hobby Robotics Club expanded its membership to fifteen students who have collectively contributed their talents and respective majors to the making of this robot. After months of hard work, building and testing, the Hobby Robotics Club was ready to show off the device they named “The O’BLADErator.”

The competition in California began with an inspection while people were still building and putting the final touches on their bots. In less than five minutes, Stevens’ robot met all of the criteria for the 220-weight class and was ready for battle.

When the actual competition kicked off, the team was ready for action. Teams accrue points for their device breaking the other robot in a double elimination format. In essence, the robots literally fight to the death, as one person, in this case Evan, operates the device with a remote control.

“You never know who you’re going up against, so I know it will be a great learning experience,” Evan said prior to the competition.  

In stadium seating, the crowd gathered to watch through the glass as the robots displayed their prowess in the ring.

The O’BLADErater’s first competitor was the “Flipper” which is a device they found they could not defend because their vehicle could only drive one way. About a minute into the battle sparks went flying and the eight months of hard work seemed insignificant.

“All that hard work we put into our device and it gets flipped in the first minute,” stated Evan. “It was pretty depressing, but we were not about to give up just yet.”

Between events competitors were allowed to repair their robots. Stevens had the rest of the day to get their vehicle in working condition. The next morning, however, they realized that the wires were reversed and they also had to find a new speed control. After rushing around, the team was finally ready to go and The O’BLADErator was in mint condition once again.

This time they were up against the famous “Mini Fridge,” made known in Budweiser commercials. The crowd was packed. The intensity rose as everyone began to chant for Mini Fridge as they wanted it to destroy The O’BLADErator.

“Everyone wanted it to tear our device apart, but we didn’t let that happen,” enthused Evan.

Mini Fridge did not stand a chance against The O’BLADErator’s razor blade teeth. After a dominating performance by The O’BLADErator, Mini Fridge disabled itself completely and stopped moving – all in fewer than three minutes of battle.

The Stevens Hobby Robotics Club celebrated as their robot came out on top, marking their first great achievement.

“I can’t wait to do it again next year. We will probably stay with the same weight class because everyone waits around for the 220-weight class fight,” said Kevin. “It is fun to be in the excitement of the event especially while you are the ones competing.”

Check out the battle here at The O'BLADErator vs. Mini Fridge.

“For our first time at the RoboGames, the fact that the O’BLADErator even turned on, that we competed three times, and we won a competition was a great accomplishment,” stated Evan. “It was such a good experience and we already have so many ideas for next year’s competition.”

The team returned to campus with more insight about the competition, realizing how brutal the battles can get. With a great victory in hand, the Hobby Robotic Club’s hard work paid off, and proved yet again that there is something for everyone at Stevens.

We look forward to see what the team has in store for next year’s competition!