Hokie "Robot Rivals" Team Whips Yellow Jackets And Takes On Boilermakers

BLACKSBURG, Va., May 12, 2003 – On the April 18 premiere episode of "Robot Rivals" on cable's Do It Yourself (DIY) network, Virginia Tech's team of engineering students beat their counterparts from Georgia Tech 3-0. In the next round, the Hokies will compete against a team from Purdue University.

The teams in the Virginia Tech/Georgia Tech competition, which was taped November 2002, were assigned the task of building remote-control soccer-playing robots.

"Our goal was to design and construct the robot that could score the most goals," said Chris Terwelp, a Virginia Tech mechanical engineering (ME) graduate student. Terwelp, graduate student Graham Henshaw and ME senior Ian Hovey had eight hours to sort through a warehouse full of parts and gadgets, come up with a workable design and construct their robot.

"Those eight hours went by quickly," Terwelp said. While Henshaw and Hovey worked on the mechanics of the robot, Terwelp wrote the computer software that would make it work. DIY supplied the teams with standard wireless transmitter and computing devices. The network also assigned a robotics consultant to each team.

At the end of eight hours, the Virginia Tech team had created a remote-control robot that could pick up a soccer ball and shoot it at a high velocity through a goal.

And the Hokie 'bot scored three goals to the Yellow Jacket's zip.

Tune in to DIY on June 27 at 9 p.m. to watch the Hokies take on the Boilermakers. For this show-"Mulch Movers"-the task will be to build a robot to transport as much dirt as possible from a topsoil pile into a small wagon. The robot that loads the most dirt (by weight) in the specified time will be the winner.

The "Robot Rivals" series will culminate on the DIY network July 11 at 9 p.m. with a championship competition.