Robo Wars: Check out top international robots at Mcleod Center today, Saturday

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This weekend, the McLeod Center and the UNI Dome will be hosting a different kind of sporting event. The two will play host to a FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Regional Competition. This is the first time such an event has ever been held in Cedar Falls.

Regional competitions consist of many teams forming alliances and competing against other alliances in strategic games that change every year. This year, the game is called Stronghold. The game consists of two teams of three robots each attempting to breach enemy defenses, usually through obstacles or steps of some sort, to get to a row of “boulders” on the opposing side of the field of play.

Once the robots have reached the boulders, they will attempt to launch the boulders using a catapult-like device into windows of a tower to score points. The objective is to score more points than the opposing team. The actual games will be held in the McLeod Center while the UNI Dome is used as a pit area for teams that are not competing in order for them to make repairs.

This robotics competition will feature some teams from China, which is why some Chinese students have been walking around the high school and attending some classes. Fifty three teams have been registered.

On Thursday, the teams engaged in practice matches in which each robot is inspected to make sure it meets all size and safety requirements while practicing with and against other teams.

Friday and Saturday morning are the qualification matches in which teams will form alliances and compete to get seeded for the elimination tournament. The eight highest seeds are allowed to pick two other teams to compete with them in the elimination tournament, including other seeded teams. The elimination process begins Saturday afternoon with the same rules. The teams will compete until a winner is announced. Awards are handed out periodically throughout the competition with the bulk of them coming Saturday afternoon.

Anyone can attend this event.

Robotics mentor Kenton Swartley is excited for this event.

“We’ve never had an event like this in Cedar Falls, and the winner of this can go to the World Championships in St. Louis,” Swartley said. “It gives our students a chance to experience what it is like to host a regional, as well as getting more people involved in robotics in Cedar Falls.”

Be sure to check out the action this weekend.

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