| 2001 Trinity Fire Fighting |
Last Modified: 2006-07-24
Oculus, the eventual winner of the Expert Mode competition.
The Trinity Fire Fighting Contest takes place every year in Hartford, CT on the Trinity College campus. In it's 8th year, this annual event has become something of a rite of spring for engineering students and hobbyists from around the world. The basic challenge is to enter a small maze, navigate around without hitting walls or obstacles, and find a lit candle placed randomly in the maze. Once the candle is located, the robots are charged with extinguishing the candle and then exiting the maze. The competition simulates many of the challenges that would be faced by a real-world fire fighting robot.
Once again, organizer Jake Mendelssohn managed to grow the competition, increase the participation, and remain a cordial host throughout the hectic weekend. This year's contest added some new features, including a poster area for people to present new ideas in robotics.
Also new this year was an "Expert Mode" category, in which the robots were challenged with two new twists. First, the floor surface varied from room to room to create a more realistic, house-like environment. Second, entrants could opt for their robots to be placed in an arbitrary location within the maze, which forced the robots to divine position and orientation from cues in the maze. In the past, robots were always placed at the starting or "home" position to begin a competition run.
A very typical and proven design for Trinity.
While many of the entrants at Trinity chose to use what has become a standard design, the competition was not without new approaches. A prototype of a laser range-finder was demonstrated as well as a hovercraft from Israel. Mark Whitney, of Acroname, made a run at the competition using computer vision and a new BrainStemâ¢ module in his 1-BDI robot. Council Rock High School also competed with a very novel 4-wheeled robot that featured independent steering and drive motors for all four wheels.
Mark Whitney with Nancy and 1-BDI on the right.
One of the more colorful robots included revolving firemen!
It seems that every year, lighting plays a huge role in the success or failure of the fire fighting robots. This year new lighting was used but it proved to wreak havoc on the commonly used Hamamatsu UVTron flame detector. In the end, the new lights were left off and the characteristically yellow lighting of the years before prevailed.
Trinity was a huge success (again) this year. Next year look to see many more entrants in the Expert Mode as well as more participants in general. Don't miss it, I know we won't.
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