March 28-29 Robot Contest Drawing Contestants from Around the World

Trinity's 22nd Annual Competition Brings Teams from as far as Israel, China, and Indonesia

HARTFORD, CT, March 27, 2015 – Robot enthusiasts and engineers of all ages will descend upon Hartford this weekend, March 28 and 29, for the 22nd year of the Trinity College Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest.

More than 100 teams, from around the United States and from as far as Israel, China, and Indonesia, have been working


​Celebrating at the 2014 Trinity College Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest are BURP Award winners from the UMass Amherst robotics team with David Ahlgren (second from left), Trinity College Karl W. Hallden Professor of Engineering, Emeritus. The BURP Award is the highest honor that a fire fighting robot team can earn. Photo by John Atashian.
for months and are now putting the finishing touches on their robots in order to participate in the event, which takes place in the Oosting Gymnasium in the Trinity College Ferris Athletic Center.

What makes Trinity’s robotics competition different from others is that only autonomous robots are invited – intelligent robots programmed to operate independently and to respond in a particular way to outside stimuli. No remote controls are involved at this event, which features two different competitions: the RoboWaiter contest on Saturday, in which assistive robots (including a separate division for Humanoid Robots this year) that are designed to aid people with disabilities show their stuff, and the traditional extinguish-the-flame fire fighting robot contest on Sunday. Both days’ competitions are open to the public and free of charge for spectators. Competing teams have registered in advance.

“This is one of the best events that occurs on our campus, and one of the largest autonomous robot events in the world,” said Professor of Engineering John Mertens, contest administrator. “The Trinity College student robot team will do their usual spectacular job helping to run the contest and providing entries. We also have 24 first-year students entering eights robots in the RoboWaiter contest. It will be another great year!”

Oosting Gymnasium will be transformed from a vast open space to one filled with rows and rows of tables for participating teams to prepare their robots for competition, and an area where mazes are set up arena-style for the RoboWaiter and fire fighting challenges to take place. This year, in addition to the competition, a “Show and Tell” Robot Symposium will take place Saturday, March 28, from 10:00 a.m. to noon, in Trinity’s Mather Hall in the Rittenberg Lounge. This symposium will be an open exposition in which up to 10 presenters will share interesting and unique robotics projects.

The annual Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest is considered one of the premier robotics events in the world. Over the years, modifications have been made to make the fire fighting contest more difficult and exciting, and RoboWaiter was added in 2009 as its own discrete event as assistive robotics have become increasingly instrumental to the lives of people with disabilities.

The RoboWaiter competition will take place Saturday, March 28, beginning at 1:00 p.m. with opening remarks from Thomas Mitzel, dean of the faculty and vice president for academic affairs. On Sunday, March 29, Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney will welcome the crowd at 11 a.m. for the opening ceremony of the Fire Fighting contest. The competition will get started at 11:15 a.m. and wrap up with an awards ceremony at approximately 4:00 p.m.

RoboWaiter requires an autonomous robot to snatch a dish from a miniature refrigerator and carry it to a small figure seated at a table in a room. The robots, which are designed as colorfully and creatively as the imagination will allow, are typically no larger than a breadbox.


​UMass Amherst’s 2014
“Blue Panther” robot
 The Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest advances robot technology and knowledge by using robotics as an educational tool. The winning robot must respond to a fire alarm, navigate the maze, locate the flame, and extinguish it in the shortest possible time.

The principle sponsor of the two-day event is Versa Products Company, Inc. of New Jersey, whose CEO is Jan Larsson, a 1977 Trinity alumna. The Versa Valve Challenge offers a $250 prize in each contest division for the best robot using a Versa valve while completing two successful runs. Versa Products has manufactured pneumatic, hydraulic, manual and solenoid valves since 1949. The other major sponsor of the contest is Trinity College.

Webstream coverage of the contest will be available on Saturday, March 28, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. EST, and on Sunday, March 29, from 11 a.m. through approximately 4:00 to 4:30 p.m. EST. For the link to the webcast and for additional information, please visit: www.trinityrobotcontest.com.