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Robots will battle in Utah competition

Robots will battle in Utah competition



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SALT LAKE CITY -- It's not quite what you'd see in a sci-fi movie, but engineers are preparing for a battle between robots that will happen in Salt Lake City this year.

2010: A potentially great year in sports with the winter Olympics and the World Cup. Plus, the University of Utah will host the Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition, where high school kids will build robots to battle it out.

Mechanical Engineering associate professor Mark Minor says this won't necessarily be a battle to the death between two machines.

"This event is usually much more constructive in nature, you know? How do you build a robot and work as a team?" he says.

The official theme of this year's competition will be released this Saturday. In the past, robots have played games resembling football, basketball or some other team sport requiring teams to gather more rocks or balls than their opponent. Last year, at the regional competition in Las Vegas, Minor saw a very impressive machine from a Lutheran school.

"The ‘Holy Cows' was the name of their team, and they had a robot that looked kind of like a shopping cart with a cow coming out of it," he explains.

Minor says 16 teams of 20 to 25 people will get $35,000 worth of hardware to build robots the size of refrigerators.

"These are robot that teams build with mentoring from students from the U or other folks at their school or folks from industry," he says. "We'd invite folks that are interested in helping to mentor these teams to come to the kickoff event this coming Saturday."

The kickoff will be held at West High School, where teams will get their hardware and start building their chassis. The actual competition is schedule March 18-20 at the Huntsman Center.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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Paul Nelson

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