Event: Treasure-hunting robots gear up for a showdown

A previous engineering physics robot competition featuring ’Uber bots&rsquA previous engineering physics robot competition featuring ’Uber bots’. Photo: Clare Kiernan/UBC

Once again, UBC engineering physics students are building robots for an in-person robot showdown to be held on Thursday, August 11.

Sixteen teams will field fully autonomous robots they designed themselves in a race to recover ancient artifacts for points. The robots must navigate a complex course filled with ramps, narrow archways, rocks, suspension bridges and ziplines without human aid. To make things harder, one of the artifacts is a "bomb" that can only be identified by the weak magnetic field it emits. The team with the most artifacts wins the prize.

Program director and engineering Andre Marziali notes that for two years, COVID-19 led to the EngPhys robot course being run with students building robots at home, supported by staff who were willing to cycle all over the city to deliver robot components to students.

"Students were equipped with simple tools and materials and asked to build robots, largely out of corrugated plastic and cardboard, to perform a relatively simple task like picking soda cans off the floor! This year, they’re finally back in person and with access to more advanced tools. It will be amazing to experience the energy and enthusiasm of robot competition day in person once again!"

"This course is a really great introduction to engineering and physics because the students have to build everything from scratch, we don’t give them kits. And that’s what it’s like at the cutting edge of R&D, or if you’re starting a tech company. You can’t order a quantum computer or a fusion reactor from a catalogue, you have to build it yourself. And those are the kinds of challenges our students are interested in," says Dylan Gunn, director of the engineering physics project lab.

Event: "Treasure bots" student competition

Date/Time: Thursday, August 11, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Location: Hebb Building, 2045 East Mall, Vancouver V6T 1Z1

Parking: North Parkade, 6115 Student Union Boulevard V6T 1Z1

 Program director Andre Marziali, instructor Dylan Gunn and students

Assignment editors: Event starts at 10 a.m. sharp; please arrive at least 30 minutes early to set up cameras.

Find other stories about: Dr. Andre Marziali , Dylan Gunn , engineering physics , Faculty of Applied Science , Treasure bots