On November 5th, 2000, the Central Illinois Robotics Club held their second annual robot competition. This is the first robot event I’ve ever attended, much less entered. To learn more about Robot Sumo contests, see the Illustrated Guide to American Robot Sumo.
Steve Surwillo says I should be pointing to the $2.50 Whiskey Sour.
They sure treat you right in Peoria!
CIRC should be applauded for the wonderful job they did on the entire event. A basement room in the Lakeview museum was transformed into a Mecca of robots. Plenty of seating for a spectators, tables for contestants, and a closed-circuit television displaying the Sumo ring.
The nicest part was the people. Young and old, husbands and wives, robot hobbyists and robot spectators. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. Like many engineers, I tend to feel a bit intimidated at public gatherings, but there was a warm atmosphere in central Illinois.
I don’t know if I was more excited about the presence of all the kids or of all of the wives. Robots remain a mysterious or geeky hobby to most people, so the support of loved ones means a lot to the builders.
Even though she doesn’t have my fascination, my wife encourages me in my hobby. She accompanied me to the event on the long drive from Chicago. The videos and many of the pictures on this page are hers.
Bill Harrison hosting
Bill Harrison flew in to emcee the event. He was fantastic!
He started out by explaining the basics of the tournament to the audience. Then, he stepped the contestants through the procedures of a match. His unassuming, gentle speaking style blended well with those attending.
Bill also acted as referee. He educated everyone to the rules as the situations arose. He applied the rules fairly and flexibly, bending and even breaking as necessary to allow each an opportunity to exercise the fruits of their labor. If ever there was a man who understood the importance of the spirit of regulations and that it is the overriding intent to forever impress robots upon the competitors, it is Bill Harrison.
Bowing at the beginning and ending of each match was strictly enforced. “Did you bow to each other?” he would prod. Not only did I respect that, but I enjoyed the friendly, nervous smiles that I exchanged with my opponents. If you hold a Sumo event of your own, don’t skip the bows.
Bill entertained as well. At the end of every match he would pull one finishing competitor to the microphone with a open question about their robot. Between matches Bill would play through with an interesting tidbit or humorous story.
Rat Killer vs. Ant - Round 1 - 0:07
A piece of Ant weighing more than 5 grams falls off, giving Rat Killer a point.
Rat Killer vs. Ant - Round 2 - 0:07
After a short scuffle, Rat Killer pushes Ant out of the ring. Rat Killer wins the match.
Bugdozer vs. Intruder - Round 1 - 0:05
Intruder doesn’t start and is pushed out of the ring, giving Bugdozer a point.
Bugdozer vs. Intruder - Round 2 - 0:05
Most likely Intruder’s line sensor reflected off of Bugdozer’s scoop, causing Intruder to reverse off the edge. Bugdozer wins the match.
Bugdozer vs. Ant - Round 1 - 0:09
Ant puts on the spin move but is eventually corralled out of the ring. Bugdozer gains a point.
Bugdozer vs. Ant - Round 2 - 0:45 (shortened to 0:13)
Ant’s wheels roll off the edge, but stays on the board. Bugdozer’s front and rear line sensors are triggered, causing a bug in the code to flip the left and right tires on and off hundreds of times a second. Over the next thirty seconds, this translated into little motion for either combatant, with Ant being called out first. Bugdozer is awarded the match.
Intruder vs. Rat Killer - Round 1 - 0:05
With a quick shove, Rat Killer falls out of the ring. Intruder gains a point. Intruder falls out near the end of this video, but that’s inconsequential, as the first robot out loses.
Intruder vs. Rat Killer - Round 2 - 0:05
After a missed run at each other, Intruder backs out of the ring. Rat Killer evens the match at 1 point each.
Intruder vs. Rat Killer - Round 3 - 0:05
Rat Killer twirls around to start, but Intruder’s speed pays off. Intruder wins the match.
Intruder vs. Ant - Round 1 - 0:05
Intruder zips across the ring to dispose of Ant. Intruder gets a point.
Intruder vs. Ant - Round 2 - 0:06
After two misses, Intruder zips backwards out of the ring. Ant gets a point to even the match.
Intruder vs. Ant - Round 3 - 0:05
Intelligent positioning allows Intruder to zip across the ring and win the match.
Bugdozer vs. Rat Killer - Round 1 - 0:11
A struggle but eventually Rat Killer slips out. A point for Bugdozer.
Bugdozer vs. Rat Killer - Round 2 - 0:05
Bugdozer catches Rat Killer before he can drop down. Bugdozer wins the match.
Black Lightning vs. Pulverizer - Round 1 - 0:07
Pulverizer slips out, providing a point to Black Lightning.
Black Lightning vs. Pulverizer - Round 2 - 0:12
Pulverizer and Black Lightning pass each other, but Black Lightning manages to get under Pulverizer on the turnaround. “Bad posture” leads to swirling defeat as Black Lightning wins the match.
LYBOW vs. Pulverizer - Round 1 - 0:??
Video missing. LYBOW won a point. It should be noted that Pulverizer’s sensors were designed for a non-regulation ring with a thicker border. Pulverizer’s competitors kindly allowed the wider ring to be used in the competition.
LYBOW vs. Pulverizer - Round 2 - 0:45
One of the longest rounds. It takes Pulverizer four attempts and many passes, but eventually LYBOW is pushed out.
LYBOW vs. Pulverizer - Round 3 - 0:10
After a pass or two, LYBOW finds Pulverizer near an edge and pushes well. LYBOW wins the match.
LYBOW vs. Black Lightning - Round 1 - 0:06
With a tiny shove, Black Lightning gains a point.
LYBOW vs. Black Lightning - Round 2 - 0:05
With a tiny shove, LYBOW gains a point to tie.
LYBOW vs. Black Lightning - Round 3 - 0:05
In a mirror repeat of the previous round, LYBOW comes from behind to win the match.
Black Lightning vs. Bugdozer - Round 1 - 0:21
Bugdozer fails to spot Black Lightning and ends up wandering into the front-back sensor bug again. Black Lightning makes use of the opportunity to get a point.
Black Lightning vs. Bugdozer - Round 2 - 0:06
From my first look at Black Lightning’s low profile, I knew Bugdozer could be out-scooped. Black Lightning really earns the point here and wins the match.
LYBOW vs. Intruder - Round 1 - 0:06
What starts out as an even shove, turns into a point for LYBOW when Intruder performs a spin move.
LYBOW vs. Intruder - Round 2 - 0:05
Intruder backs out of the ring, providing LYBOW with the match win.
Bugdozer vs. LYBOW - Round 1 - 0:05
In a straight head-to-head push, Bugdozer wins a point.
Bugdozer vs. LYBOW - Round 2 - 0:05
LYBOW is positioned to move perpendicular, but Bugdozer’s infra-red sensors hone in. The match goes to Bugdozer.
Black Lightning vs. Intruder - Round 1 - 0:05
After a missed pass, Intruder backs out to give Black Lightning a point.
Black Lightning vs. Intruder - Round 2 - 0:05
Excellent positioning allows Intruder to knock Black Lightning on his side. However, the rear sensor betrays Intruder over the edge again. Black Lighting wins the match.
Andrew Black related the scoring method: To determine the winners, only the matches between the four qualifying robots are counted -- all unassociated matches are ignored. This results in a three-way tie. The times of the winning rounds of the winning matches of the three tied robots are counted. The lowest time wins.
|Robot Name||Final Heat Robots
|Total Match Wins*|
*There wasn’t enough time to complete an entire round-robin, so Total Match Wins is irrelevant because not all robots got to fight each other.
The table above doesn’t do justice to the hard work and value that each robot brought to the sport. The young man who created Ant was wavering about his entry -- but I encouraged him to compete. Maybe he was disappointed in the finish, but he can proudly state “I built a robot and saw it battle. What did you do last weekend?”.
Old Tech - 0:27
While the contest organizers were tallying results of a Sumo class, Bill Harrison put on an exhibition round which included an old technology robot. The robot has a simple beam (telescoping antenna?) that trips up opponents.
However, at the end you can hear Bill exclaim that Old Tech actually loses. This is because the opponent lands outside the ring on top of Old Tech’s beam -- so Old Tech “touches” the ground first.
Jeg’s scoop - 0:06
Brandon Dierker’s robot, Jeg, looks sleek. Like most Sumo robots, Jeg doesn’t fit into the maximum dimensions and thus must raise his scoop before a battle. The lowering motion is very smooth.
Jeg vs. Red - 0:15
Towards the end of a round, Jeg pushes Red out. But wait! Red climbs back in and pushes Jeg out!!
Hummer vs. Too Much - 0:20
This is a great battle of almost equal traction and motor power. It shows why Hummer won the Illinois class.
Overkill vs. Octobot - 0:05
Sumo robots must fit within a set of maximum dimensions at the beginning of a round.
Octobot won coolest robot for good reason! Watch it unfurl.
In the meantime, Overkill has already made it beyond the midpoint.
Brutus vs. Cyborg - 0:05
Brutus has an effective flat scoop and four-wheel drive.
Motor power wasn’t Cyborg’s problem. In a high-resolution version of this video, Cyborg’s tires can be seen spinning and slipping.
The Gladiator vs. Overkill - 0:16
In DRAIC (DeVry Robotics) proudest moment, Overkill shatters its scoop on The Gladiator’s armor.
The piece of scoop hung on by its skin throughout the round.
Overkill’s speed (or a bug? or scoop damage against a sensor?) eventually costs it a point. This demonstrates that if your robot plods along long enough, eventually many robot opponents drive themselves off the edge.
Thanks to Andrew Black for the official results.
|Official Result||Robot Name||Builder Name|
|1st||Bugdozer||David Cook (left in photo)|
|2nd||LYBOW||Andrew Black (right)|
|3rd||Black Lightning||Michael Houston (middle)|
|Official Result||Robot Name||Builder Name|
|1st||Hummer||Larry Kruzan (middle in photo)|
|2nd||Too Much||Peter Campbell (right)|
|3rd||Crash-n-Burn||Jim Frye (left)|
|Official Result||Robot Name||Builder Name|
|1st||Brutus||Mike Dvorsky (middle in photo)|
|2nd||Overkill||Jim Frye (left)|
|3rd||Octobot||Jeff Loitz (right)|