Teams of budding engineers and robotics enthusiasts recently squared off in New York City at the FIRST (For Inspiration, Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics "Lunacy" Competition, pitting their robots against one another in the hope of becoming one of 344 teams to move on to the championship round next month in Atlanta. (The nickname Lunacy is a nod to the 40th anniversary of NASA’s moon landing.)
Sixty-six teams of high school students from the New York City and New Jersey as well as international competitors from the U.K. and Brazil matched wits and engineering talent in Manhattan’s Jacob K. Javits Center as they vied for six spots in the championship tournament. (In all, 40 regional competitions are taking place between February and early April across the U. S., Canada and Israel.)
In New York, the competition consisted of bouts between two teams (each with three robots) on the slippery floor of a 54- by 27-foot (16.5- by eight-meter) arena, designed to symbolize the kind of physics challenges engineers faced when they designed the original moon lander.