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Posted: 21 April 2006

Do robots dream of scoring trys?

When two teams of fifteen players go head to head to score the highest number of points by carrying, passing, kicking and grounding the ball, we call it rugby. So when small autonomous robots compete to score points by pushing balls into the scoring area at each end of a playing table, we call it RoboRugby.

UCD Engineering Student prepares robot for RoboRugby match
UCD Engineering Student prepares robot for RoboRugby match

19 robots. 70,000 Lego pieces. And 873,876 hours in the lab. Designed and built by UCD engineering students from a standard kit of parts, the robots are programmed to score trys.

The robots are not familiar with what we humans call the 'spirit' of the game. It's not something that can be pre-programmed into an onboard computer. So what happens when a robot is prevented from doing what it is specifically programmed to do? Do they keep to the spirit of the game? Well, no matter what happens during the game, a team can not intervene. Once the game begins, the robots are on their own.

Do robots dream of scoring trys? Do they understand 'that it's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game?'

Photograph of Robots competing in RoboRugby championship
Robots competing in RoboRugby championship

Designed and built by Cathal Finch, Conor Keane Kennedy, Michael Dowd, ‘The Big GC’ robot powered undefeated through the UCD Siemens RoboRugby Autonomous Robot Design Competition which took place on Thursday April 20th in the William Jefferson Clinton Auditorium in UCD Belfield.

Second place went to the ranked outsider ‘Shovel-headed Kill Machine.’ With its spring loaded defensive wall and two projectile ball-collecting carts, designers Paul Cuffe and Timothy Brosnan were always confident that their robot would reach the final stages.

The seemingly random strategy applied by the ‘Nutella' robot managed to secure third place for designers Ben Frederiks, Jennifer Murphy, and Michael Leonard on the night.

Photograph of Robots in Competition
Robots competing in RoboRugby championship

‘Team Elec XL’ built by David Kavanagh, Ming-Tak Shum, Talieh Zarab Zadeh rounded out the top four. This small, slow, but solid and consistent robot won a series of close matches before loosing to the ‘Shovel-headed Kill Machine.’

The Darius RoboRugby Innovation Award named in memory of the late Darius Vasseghi, was presented to designers John Stokes and Paul Myles for their ingenious scoop and shoot robot ‘Pooper Scooper.’

UCD Siemens RoboRugby 06 Tournament Results

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