Team from Ghana wins Robofest at Lawrence Tech

SOUTHFIELD—A team of high school students from the West African nation of Ghana took first place in the Senior Game Division at the Robofest World Championships, held Saturday at Lawrence Technological University.

Team Acro-Bot hailed from the Ghana Robotics Academy Foundation, a robotics organization in Accra, Ghana’s capital city.

Taking second place were the Teqq Televisors, a team from Hyderabad, India, while third place went to team Joe Bots of Troy, Mich.

In the Junior Game Division for grades 5-8, first place went to the Robobuilders of Novi, Mich, with second place to team JABs of Aurora, Ill., and third place to Robowarriors of Troy, Mich.

Robofest was invented in 1999 by LTU computer science professor C.J. Chung, and since inception has seen more than 28,000 students compete worldwide. Robofest features robots that are completely autonomous—controlled solely by software, not remote-controlled by joystick—and has low barriers to entry, with a $50 entry fee and a robot kit that costs approximately $400.

Robofest is also seven competitions in one. A Game competition, which changes every year, is the most popular event, but there are also competitions in Bottle Sumo, a simple game in which robots try to push each other or a 2-liter pop bottle off a table; RoboParade, in which robots are judged on elaborate decorations as well as their ability to stay on a path; RoboArts, in which robots are programmed to accomplish artistic objectives like music or dance; the Unknown Mission Challenge, in which students are given a task to complete with limited time to build a robot and write the software to accomplish it; the Vision Centric Challenge, a competition for high school and college teams in machine vision; and the Exhibition, where students dream up any task they choose, and design and program a robot to accomplish it.

In all, approximately 600 students competed at LTU in Robofest events from May 16 to May 18.

In other competitions decided Saturday, the winner of Junior Exhibition was PCMS, from Pui Ching Middle School in Macau, a former Portuguese colony now a semi-independent part of China. Winning the Senior Exhibition category was Aurora, from the Baptist Lui Ming Choi Secondary School in Hong Kong. Winning Senior RoboArts was Visual Muzic, a team from Escuela Preparatoria Numero Unio in Metepec, Mexico. Winning Junior RoboArts was Golden Brains, a team from Genio Tech school in Alexandria, Egypt. Sweeping the Vision Centric Challenge at both the high school and college levels were teams from the Robot Institute of Hong Kong.

LTU Provost Maria Vaz welcomes students to Robofest Saturday morning. LTU photo / Matt Roush

“Robofest is an integrated learning environment to provide talented workforce for the upcoming fourth industrial revolution era,” said Chung, who is also leading LTU’s autonomous vehicle project, ACTor, or Autonomous Campus Transport. “And as this impressive list of winners shows, Robofest is also truly a global celebration of fun competition and STEM education.”

LTU Provost Maria Vaz provided opening remarks for the event and presented trophies to winners in the late afternoon closing ceremonies. LTU Director of Media Relations Matt Roush served as the event’s master of ceremonies.

Robofest sponsors included the auto suppliers DENSO and Hyundai MOBIS, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, FUTEK Advanced Sensor Technology Inc., the Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation, RoboMatter Inc., Robot Mesh, the National Defense Industrial Association of Michigan, Research Into Internet Systems (RIIS) Inc., Realtime Technologies Inc., IEEE, Toyota, and SoarTech.

For complete results of all competitions, visit www.robofest.net.

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 15 percent of universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

Spectators watch as six teams at a time vie for the championship in the Robofest Game competition, while on the concourse above the floor, teams in the Exhibition category make their presentations. LTU photo / Matt Roush

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