Teams have gathered from all over the globe this weekend in San Mateo, CA to compete in 50+ categories at the 9th annual RoboGames . Various theaters of combat are arrayed across Fiesta Hall at the San Mateo Convention Center (also the site of Maker Faire Bay Area), featuring a whole range of environments, like MechWars (armed humanoid robots shooting it out amidst a few highrises in some spare cityscape), Robot Soccer, and Sumo (a pushing match in a ring).
There’s also a nice array of ArtBots on display (try playing the computer-controlled foosball table game).
Of course, the center of attention is the Lexan-encased combat arena, a rugged see-through cage surrounded on three sides by packed bleachers, where the various weight classes of combat robots take each other on. Backstage, an unassuming looking announcer sits ringside, expertly chronicling every interaction. Next to him stands the black and white shirted ref (and RoboGames co-producer Simone Davalos), who manages both start and stop times, the logging of the match results, and overseeing the orange-clad safety crew. Three judges are crammed in there too, notepads in hand, evaluating machines for performance, ready to call a winner if the machines failed to complete a knock-out within the allotted three minutes.
And yes, the wedge is a dominant design, but at least 2/3rds of the combots have some very entertaining weapon design, blades generating sparks, wild noise, or other good machine drama.
The event itself is a great experience. Interesting to see the spectrum of the community, with its clearly welcoming entry-level categories (great for kids) through hardcore experts, with everyone—including Robogames rockstar, the Sewer Snake team—really accessible to the audience.
If you’re in the Bay Area, RoboGames continues today through 7pm at the San Mateo County Events Center.