Local students turn heads at robot competition

MINNEAPOLIS - Since 2005, Benilde St. Margaret's students have been designing, building and competing in an International Robot Competition.

First, each student builds a small robot and if it works exceptionally well, the student is chosen to be part of a team to build a bigger one for a greater stage.

"Robots take on different names, this one came back with the name Ro-Bert," smiled Tim Jump, Director of Advanced Competitive Science.

Jump leads the team of students and the robot he's talking about was built last year.

Last June, Benilde was the only high school team in the United States to compete in the Netherlands as part of Robo Cup 2013.

Ro-Bert went up against teams from all over the world, many of them colleges, and it stood out to a United States businessman. It's price tag, about $5,000 to build, and it's simplicity intrigued the man.

"This thing, you just turn it on a switch and boot up a computer and you're driving," explained Jump. "We designed it for search and rescue, they're now looking at it in deployment of bomb squads, bomb detection, first responders,"

Fit with a camera, a headlamp, and a thermal detector, the thinking is that they could be mass produced.

For the past couple of months a firm in Pennsylvania took a closer look to see if Ro-Bert would potentially work.

"Trunk of every squad car, I 'd go for that," smiled Jump. "Be interesting, BSM robots are swarming everywhere."

If not, using last year's Ro-Bert, the students have a great start on the next competition, Robo Cup 2014 in Brazil.


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