Trinity Hosts 24th Annual International Robotics Competition

April 1-2 Event Draws Contestants from around the World

Robot enthusiasts show off an entry at the 2016
competition in Trinity's Oosting Gymnasium

Hartford, Connecticut, March 29, 2017 – Robot enthusiasts and engineers of all ages will descend upon Hartford this weekend, April 1-2, for the 24th year of the Trinity College International Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest, considered one of the premier robotics events in the world.

More than 80 teams, from around the United States as well as from Canada, China, Indonesia, Israel, Portugal, and the United Arab Emirates, have been working for months and are now putting the finishing touches on their robots in order to participate in the extinguish-the-flame robot competition, 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. The contest is an open, not-for-profit event that promotes creativity, teamwork, the understanding of and application of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, and the sharing of ideas. Competition on both days is open to the public and free of charge for spectators. Competing teams have registered in advance.

The Trinity College International 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.

There are three levels of difficulty, including a new “Search and Rescue” level in which the robot is required to use a vision system to locate and rescue a baby doll before putting out the fire.

“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. “It’s wonderful to see grade school, high school, undergraduate, and graduate students side-by-side. The Trinity College student robot team will do their usual spectacular job helping to run the contest as well as participating with a total of nine Trinity teams this 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 fire fighting contest to take place.

On Saturday, April 1, Trinity College Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Tim Cresswell will welcome the crowd at 12:15 p.m. before the competition gets started at 12:30 p.m.

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 three successful runs. Versa Products has manufactured pneumatic, hydraulic, manual and solenoid valves since 1949. The other major sponsor of the contest is Trinity College. Event sponsor is the Connecticut Chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Patron sponsors are Luvozo,, and Circuit Cellar.

Webstream coverage of the contest will be available on Saturday, April 1, from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST, and on Sunday, April 2, from 10:30 a.m. through approximately 4:30 p.m. EST. For the link to the webcast and for additional information, please visit: