Robots in Competition – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Robots in Competition

Two teams of HWS students competed in the ninth annual Trinity College Home Robot Fire Fighting Competition held on April 21 in Hartford, Conn. Luis Alvarez, Josh Austin, Nick Batyko, Terence Costello, Eric Newsome, and Dan Thompson customized and programmed BAM and GDT, two autonomous mobile robots, to search a maze and extinguish a candle. This year 183 teams were entered in the event, which draws contestants from all across the U.S. as well as Canada, Mexico, Israel, and Korea. Both HWS teams were twice assigned the most difficult search paths and had to overcome several electronic and mechanical problems, but GDT succeeded in extinguishing the flame on its final run. The HWS robot teams are sponsored by John Vaughn from the mathematics and computer science department.

The contest is designed to encourage mechanical design and computer programming skills with the eventual goal of developing an affordable home robot to provide house fire protection. All robots entered in the contest must be non-commercial, custom fitted with motors and electronics, and less than one cubic foot in size. The contest maze contains four rooms connected by corridors the robots must navigate through as quickly as possible using a variety of electronic sensors. The robots use an on-board computer and cannot be remote controlled. Points are deduced from the team score for touching walls, not finding the candle, or moving too slowly.

Find out more about the contest and final standings at