Robofest: A global celebration of human imagination and robot skill

SOUTHFIELD – Nearly 500 students on 176 teams from 10 nations competed Friday and Saturday in the World Championships of Robofest, a worldwide youth robotics competition held since 1999 at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield.

In keeping with the international nature of the competition, teams winning top awards were from China, Colombia, Ghana, Korea, and the United States.


Robofest is unique in that competitors can use whatever type of robot they choose to complete a task – and they can even invent their own tasks. In the Exhibition category, students use their imaginations to design robots to accomplish a task they choose. In the Game category, robots compete to play a game successfully in the fastest time. The game changes each year to keep the competition fresh. There are also categories for machine-vision-controlled robots for advanced high school and college teams, and a “Bottle Sumo” division for beginners that has teams simply pushing a bottle off a table. There was even an “Unknown Mission Challenge” where team members weren’t told their task until the competition.

This year’s Game competition was RoboGolf. Robots had to be able to find the green on a golf course – actually, patches of green paper on a six-foot table – locate a golf ball on the green, and putt the ball into the hole. Each table had four “greens” in different positions and four golf balls. Teams were scored for how close they got to the hole on each shot, and how quickly they shot the four balls.

The competition is also unique in that Robofest robots operate entirely autonomously, with no human control once they are programmed – the way most robots operate in real-world settings.

In the Junior Game category for grades 5-8, first place was taken by Team R&G 4, from Seoul, Korea. Second place went to Tek101, a team from Discovery Middle School in Canton Township. And third place went to RoboGals from Chasewood Learning Center in Aurora, Ill.

In the Senior Game category, for grades 9-12, first place went to Layin’ Brikz, a team from the Calhoun Area Career Center in Battle Creek. Second place went to Team R&G 2 from Seoul, Korea. And third place went to the Home School Connection team from Ann Arbor.

In the Junior Exhibition category, first place went to TechSisters, a team from the Canton Charter Academy in Canton Township. Second place was earned by Team STEAM, another Canton Charter Academy team. And third place went to GC Bot Jr., a team from Bogota, Colombia.

In the Senior Exhibition category, first place went to Team Spark of Seoul, Korea. Second place went to the RoboCubs from University of Detroit Jesuit High School. And third place went to Team Flex, from Goyang, Korea.

Top senior division teams were also offered $2,000 scholarships to Lawrence Tech.

Special Toyota Innovation Awards went to teams in all divisions that did not place in the top three but showed outstanding innovation in their designs. The winners were: Junior Exhibition, Twins, Goyang, Korea; Senior Exhibition, Pace Invaders, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada; Junior Game, Anonymous, Novi; and Senior Game, Presbot, from Prempeh College in Accra, Ghana.

In the Vision Centric Challenge, first place in the senior category went to ICON 01 of Inchon, Korea, and in the collegiate category, to Luxrobo of Seoul, Korea.

Finally, People’s Choice Awards were given in the Exhibition category by spectators attending the event. Winners were Galactic Arcade of Welsh Hills School, Granville, Ohio; Spark, of Seoul, Korea; TechSisters of Canton Township; and Leaders, of Beijing, China.

Robofest was developed by CJ Chung, professor of mathematics and computer science at Lawrence Tech. More than 18,000 students around the world have participated in Robofest since then.

For the official list of world championship winners, visit http://www.robofest.net/rms/uploads/scoresheets/World_Championship2016/world16winners.pdf.  And for a video of the event, visit https://www.facebook.com/robofest.

LTU President Virinder Moudgil offered opening remarks at the event, and LTU Provost Maria Vaz offered closing remarks and presented the awards.

Vaz and Chung also announced that next year’s Robofest World Championships will be held in the city of St. Pete Beach, Fla., a coastal city in the Tampa area.

Robofest sponsors included: the auto supplier Denso, platinum sponsor; Toyota, gold sponsor; Lego Education; RoboMatter Inc., a robotics training center in Pittsburgh, Pa.; the Michigan Council of Women in Technology; and Nielsen, the global information company, silver sponsors; the Michigan Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association; the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; RIIS LLC, an IT consulting firm in Troy; Realtime Technologies Inc., a graphical simulation and modeling company in Royal Oak; Hanyang University, a private research university in South Korea; and Mindsensors, a Richmond, Va. supplier of robot components, bronze sponsors.

Lawrence Technological University, http://www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. The Brookings Institution ranks Lawrence Tech fifth nationwide for boosting graduates’ earning power, PayScale lists it in the nation’s top 10 percent of universities for graduates’ salaries, and U.S. News and World Report places it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus in Southfield, Michigan, include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

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