BRENDAN CLARK ’21
Trinity College hosted its 25th annual Fire Fighting Home Robot Contest on Apr. 7-8, an annual event which is considered to be one of the most prestigious robotic competitions in the world. Participants in the contest consisted of high school and college students on 60 teams from the United States, Canada, China, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Portugal, and the United Arab Emirates.
Trinity’s competition is differentiated from other competitions in that “only autonomous robots are invited,” according to a press release from Trinity’s Office of Communications, which noted that these robots “operate independently and respond in a particular way to outside stimuli” without the involvement of remote controls.
Professor of Engineering and Department Chair John Mertens has been the contest administrator for several years since the retirement of one of the contest’s founders, Karl W. Hallden Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, David J. Ahlgren. Professor Mertens spoke to the Tripod and emphasized the “attention brought to Trinity by the contest” and the important role the contest can play in Trinity’s “international relations and position with the international community.”
The winning contest robot has to respond to a fire alarm, navigate a maze, locate a flame, and extinguish it as quickly as possible. There are also “three levels of difficulty, including a ‘Search and Rescue’ level in which the robot is required to use a vision system” in order to locate and thereafter rescue a doll prior to putting out the fire. Professor Mertens added that “students and robot enthusiasts from every level are coming together from around the globe to compete and learn from each other in a collegial way.”
Professor Ahlgren, who continues to volunteer with the event, also spoke to the Tripod, adding that the event has “always been a great place for scientific innovation and design.”
Trinity students were also competing in the event, with ten teams from Trinity participating this year. The principal sponsor of the event this year is Versa Products Company of New Jersey, whose Chief Executive Officer, Jan Larsson, is a 1977 Trinity alumna according to the Office of Communication’s release.
The information for this article came principally from a press release entitled “Trinity College Hosts 25th Annual Robotics Competition” issued by the Office of Communications.