Robot Rodeo highlights operator skills

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By Carol A. Clark

A surprisingly agile silver robot made its way across a wooden walkway, picked up a bright yellow Frisbee, rolled backward and hung the Frisbee high on a nail embedded in a wooden stake. The machine then moved on to a nearby table, where it picked up a mousetrap, crossed a pile of car tires and, without tripping it, placed the mousetrap down on another table.

This was one of 10 innovative courses timed and critiqued by judges during the two-and-a-half-day 2008 Robot Rodeo, which wrapped up today at noon at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“They have to have the controls memorized because they’re hidden from view during this exercise,” said Janet Romero of LANL’s Emergency Management Division.

The second annual competition brought out the best in robot operators from the Los Alamos Police Department, LANL, Santa Fe Police and New Mexico State Police.

“Winners receive trophies and bragging rights,” said rodeo coordinator Christopher Ory, a Hazardous Devices team member at LANL. “Los Alamos won last year.”

During Tuesday’s event at TA-49, Ory said the four teams in the rodeo were neck-in-neck in earned points and he could not predict the outcome, which will be determined later today.

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