The 2012 FIRST Robotics Season is now underway with around 2,500 teams of students in grades 9-12 (ages 14-18) embarking on a six-week project to build Kinect-powered robots.
At the inaugural event, held at FIRST headquarter in Manchester, NH, teams were introduced to the Rebound Rumble basketball game which the students' robots will be playing in the competition.
The new feature this year is that all the teams have been provided with Kinect hardware and software in the kit of around 600-700 discrete parts that teams receive to build their robots. So this year, teams will be able to control their robots not only with joysticks, but also with gestures and possibly spoken commands.
According to the Kinect blog:
The first part of the competition is the autonomous period, in which robot can only be controlled by sensor input and commands. This is when the depth and speech capabilities of Kinect will prove extremely useful.
FIRST founder Dean Kamen is quoted as saying:
“The ability to utilize Kinect technologies and capabilities to transform the way people interact with computers already has sparked the imagination of thousands of developers, students, and researchers from around the world, We look forward to seeing how FIRST students utilize Kinect in the design and manipulation of their robots, and are grateful to Microsoft for participating in the competition as well as offering their support and donating thousands of Kinect sensors.”
The students participating in this competition can look forward to an exciting three months. Teams gain real-world experience by working with professional engineers to build their team’s robot and also develop design, programming, project management, and strategic thinking skills. The competition also benefits individuals as over $15 million of college scholarships will be awarded throughout the competition.
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