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High-Schoolers Go Into Overdrive At FIRST Robotics Competition

Student teams compete against each other by controlling their robots to push and pass huge rubber 'Trackballs' around the field.
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Mar 27, 2008
Fifty-two teams from high schools in Southern California, Arizona and New Hampshire competed in the Los Angeles FIRST Robotics Competition last Friday and Saturday. Five teams, one sponsored by JPL and another sponsored by the Dryden Flight Research Center, will go on to the worldwide competition, to be held April 17-19 in Atlanta.

The teams from Hope Chapel Academy, Hermosa Beach; Delphi Academy, Lake View Terrace; and Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy, Goleta, won the overall regional competition. The Dryden-sponsored Lancaster High School, Lancaster, won the Regional Chairman's Award, so it will also participate in the final competition, as will San Diego's High Tech High School, which received the Engineering Inspiration Award.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is part of NASA's Robotic Alliance Project. The students designed, built and tested the robots - which can stand up to six feet high and weigh up to 120 pounds - with the help of engineers. Thirty engineers at JPL worked with several of the teams for more than six weeks, and 70 more JPLers volunteered at the event.

In this year's "Overdrive" challenge, robots raced counterclockwise on a track roughly the size of a tennis court. In each two-minute-and-15 second round, robots scored points by pushing and passing huge rubber "Trackballs" around the field and over a six-and-a-half foot overpass. Robots had to operate by themselves for the first 15 seconds of each round, then students were allowed to control the robots for the remaining two minutes.

2008 Los Angeles Regional FIRST Robotics Awards

Regional Winners
"Beach Bots," Hope Chapel Academy, Hermosa Beach

"Thunderbots," Delphi Academy, Lake View Terrace

"D'Penguineers," Dos Pueblos High School Engineering Academy, Goleta

Regional Finalists
"BCR," Redondo Union High School, Redondo Beach

"Bagel Bytes," Culver City High School, Culver City

"RoboWarriors," Bishop Alemany High School, Mission Hills

Regional Chairman's Award: "Eagle Robotics," Lancaster High School, Lancaster

Engineering Inspiration Award: "The Holy Cows," High Tech High School, San Diego

General Motors Industrial Design Award: "Beach Bots," Hope Chapel Academy

Motorola Quality Award: "Metalcrafters," Centinela Valley Union High School District, Hawthorne

Johnson and Johnson Gracious Professionalism Award: "Robodox," Granada Hills Charter High School, Granada Hills

Judges' Awards: "MorTorq," Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills "The Nerd Herd," California Academy of Mathematics and Science, Carson

Rookie Inspiration Award: "TNT," John Muir High School, Pasadena

Rookie All-Stars Award: "LCE," La Canada High School, La Canada

Highest Rookie Seed: "SMERT," Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, Rolling Hills Estates

Underwriters Laboratories Industrial Safety Award: "Eagle Robotics," Lancaster High School, Lancaster

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In Japan, robot babysitter always ready to play
Fukuoka, Japan (AFP) March 25, 2008
Japanese parents who can't find a good babysitter now have an alternative that never gets tired -- a friendly robot at the local department store.

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