Campus & Community

Stevens Hobby Robotics Club Competes at 2012 RoboGames

A team of Stevens Hobby Robotics Club members recently put its engineering and robotics prowess to the test at the 2012 International RoboGames, held in San Mateo, Calif. from April 20-22, 2012. The annual competition is the largest robot convention in the world, which invites the best minds from around the world to design autonomous and remotely-operated robots and compete in scores of riveting events, including soccer, sumo and more.

The team – represented by President Evan Feil, Vice President Adith Subramanian, Treasurer Jordan Musoff and Secretary Marty Burns – participated in the Combat robotics category in the 220-pound weight class with its robot, “Shear Force.” The Combat category pits two remote-controlled robots in a ring for a three-minute, head-to-head, battle to the death, in which the competing robots use specific weapons to destroy the opponent.

This is the second straight year Stevens has entered the RoboGames. In 2011, the team entered the same category with “The O’BLADErator,” and Shear Force was a redesign of that robot.

“We learned a lot from last year’s bot and made a complete redesign with three key new features which we thought would suit this competition better,” said Feil.

One modification was to make Shear Force continue to operate if it was flipped – a critical feature in a competition that features such violent impacts. Shear Force also was constructed largely out of aluminum rather than steel, which weighs less and allowed the team to add more armor on top of the main frame. Finally, Shear Force’s weapon blades were about four times thicker and stronger than The O’BLADErator’s.

“We wanted a more powerful bot which packs much more power, so we needed to condense the footprint of Shear Force, which required redesigning all the electronics and stepping up the horsepower of all the motors,” said Feil.  

Although Shear Force did not come away with a victory, Feil is proud of the team’s hard work and impressive improvement in just two years since the club was founded.

“These competitions are amazing learning experiences," he said. "We talk and learn from different teams all over the world that congregate at this event with the same interests and goals. The moment we get to competition, we immediately have a million new ideas to implement next year because you never stop learning. It’s the best way to become a good engineer.”