|While there has long been a large audience interested in robotics, there have also been a number of barriers to entry, both real and perceived. Robots are not widely available in traditional retail stores. If one could find a programmable robot, the cost was often times non-trivial. In addition, the ‘robot’ that could be purchased was often in the form of a kit and required hardware knowledge and skills. And if one could both find and afford a robot, there was a perception that programming one must be difficult.
RoboChamps is a new robotics programming league that removes those barriers to entry and makes robotics available to a broad audience. RoboChamps is based in simulation, which removes the barriers to entry of availability, cost, and deep hardware knowledge. RoboChamps is more specifically built on top of the simulation functionality provided in Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008, which means that participants can program their robots using the .NET languages they are already familiar with.
In addition, a simulated robotics competition provides the opportunity for participants to engage in rich simulation environments and use robots that are unattainable via other means. For example, RoboChamps participants have the opportunity to navigate a rescue robot in a city struck by disaster, program a car to drive autonomously in a traffic filled city and drive a rover on the surface of Mars – all scenarios that would be financially prohibitive for most individuals.
RoboChamps is a league, and like most leagues has a season that is comprised of a series of competitions. In this league, these competitions are referred to as Challenges. These provide participants with a rich 3d, physics-enabled environment and a robot, and challenge participants to solve tasks in an environment-specific scenario.
The RoboChamps season culminates in an end of season tournament. The top four in the tournament will participate in a finals event where they will take their simulation code and apply it to real robots.
The Amazed Challenge is designed to measure your ability to program a simulated, autonomous robot that successfully navigates a 3-D virtual maze from beginning to end.