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Robots prepare to duke it out

Knox teams program for Sumo++ competition

February 15, 2012

As teams begin the construction on their robots for the 10th annual Sumo++ competition, two returning teams hope to find victory on Thursday, Feb. 23.

Teams from a wide variety of backgrounds are trying to outwit and outlast their opponents within a 4-foot ring.

Last year’s second place finisher senior Josh Wood hopes to bring home the victory this year with the help of his new teammate senior Mark Wolak.

Their team, Pi Squared, named after last year’s champion, hopes to one up the design characteristic that lead to its victory, brute force and weight.

“I think mostly a solid design is best because the more connections you have holding things together the less likely it will be to fall apart as soon as you hit another robot or put any strain on it. Last year there were a few robots who fell to pieces,” Wood said.

Also a simple design in the programming will prevent problems during the battles.

“Having a ‘stupid’ algorithm for the programming seemed to work better than actually spending a lot of time coming up with a fancy one that can almost think for itself,” Wood said.

Pi Squareds’ background of physics gives them a deeper understanding of the forces at play during the competition. The physics majors did well last year with Jonathan Pierce-Ruhland ‘11 finishing in first and Wood finishing second.

Another team, is comprised of sophomores Andrei Papancea and Avinab Rajbhandary. They have yet to figure out a team name and hope their backgrounds in computer science will pay off in this competition.

“You see the problem differently. When you think about what your robot should do, you already think of it programicly (sic). How the computer would see those actions and how we should teach the computer to interact with the certain actions,” Papancea said. “There is a type of reasoning that is unique to computer science.”

Rajbhandary also noticed the strength of last year’s champion and hopes to use size as a vital part of their robot.

“Last year the robot that won was pretty big and it was simple in design. Now we’re trying to build something similar to that and add more stuff to that,” Rajbhandary said.

This year’s competition includes two different battles that the robots can fight in. One battle includes picking up a soda can and removing it from the ring in the fastest time and the second battle is an old fashioned push your opponent from the ring.

Papancea’s team hopes to compete in both, but sees it as a major challenge to do both without making any changes to the robot.

“We are also considering competing in both so that will be a challenge to teach the robot to act in both competitions, but I guess that’s the fun part of it,” Papancea said.

Papancea’s team hopes to have the robot built by the end of the weekend to give plenty of time to make needed changes before the competition.

Overall, Papancea’s team and team Pi Squared are confident about their chances this year.

“We are going in for the kill,” Papancea said.

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