When we first tell people what we do on a day-to-day basis they generally look at us incredulously and say "You build what?!" Yes. We build robots. Not the small sit-on-your-table robots, but the large run-over-your-neighbors-pet robots.
More surprising? We are not your average robot-builders, if those exist. We are high-school students by day. Its only once school is over and the night draws close that we are milling arms, wiring encoders, and building 120lb beasts of metal and gears.
What do we do with these metallic monsters?
We compete with them. Every January, we are given a rule manual, a game animation, and six weeks to design and build a robot from scratch. No instructions, few parts, little directions, and barely enough time to create the next great game-playing bot.
We compete in a competition called the First Robotics Competition sponsored by FIRST Robotics. It was started by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, portable insulin pump, and a pretty sweet robotics designer himself. Over 100,000 students participate each year and thousands of teams compete against each other all over the world.
Here is an example of one of the games that we played in 2011 in New Orleans at the Bayou Regional. This is the last match of the regional - and coincidentally the game in which we clenched the Regional Title against 40 other teams. We are the robot that starts at the bottom right of your screen.
What do we do when we are done competing?
Its not enough to just compete with our robots. We also believe that giving back to our community is extremely important. We work to find innovative and exciting ways to bring robotics to everyone around us. We demonstrate what science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can do to change the lives of children, teenagers, and adults. This past year, we went on a four school tour, taking our two previous robots and allowing kids and teachers alike the chance to drive the robot and learn what it took to build it. By backing this project, you are not only supporting competitiveness in our own students but also demonstrating to others how they can be successful.
Why do we need funding?
While we wished that robots grew on trees, they sadly do not. We need funds to build two robots: a practice robot and a competition robot. The practice bot allows us to practice after we bag up the competition robot at the end of the six week build season. It also allows us to test all of the different ideas that flow through our heads. Our competition robot is what we take with us to all of our demonstrations, competitions, and events. Both of these robots take advanced parts, machining, and other processes in order to function successfully and take out the competition.
This is where you come in. As a backer of this project, you are providing us the ability to design and build an amazing robot. You are also giving us the opportunity to etch your name on it. Our goal is to have a plate of etched aluminum filled with the names of our backers to show to the thousands of people who will see our bot compete. For one backer, we even offer the chance to name the robot.
Take a look at the various levels of backing and the thanks that we provide. Together we can design a robot that can win.
Want to Know More?
Here is another video of our 2011 Bayou Regional Winning Robot, Dunker, and from WAFB News in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Risks and challenges
There are a few risks that we encounter on a daily basis with building a robot:
1) Building a good robot does not guarantee its success. This is also the job of our drivers, overall team, strategy, and general design. While we can guarantee that we will attend our regional competition (2k attendance), we cannot guarantee that we will make it to the World Championship (35k attendance). We can guarantee however that the robot will be seen at demonstrations, fund-raisers, on the internet, and anywhere else we can market your support.
2) As of now, we have no idea what the game will be for this year. We find out on January 5th at Kickoff. Depending on the style of the robot, the positioning of your etchings might be in different places on the robot. Rest assured that we will have all of them visible to our audiences and to you.
Pledge $5.00 and receive a personalized thank-you email from our students for your help in building our robots and taking them to compete and your name listed on our website. All rewards will be sent after the competitions are over in April, 2013.
Pledge $25.00 and we will etch your name or someone's name of your choice onto our 2013 competition robot under the label of "Wall-E-Level Sponsors" which will be seen by thousands of people across the country. You will also receive a digitized image of the robot with your name clearly visible as well as the previously listed awards.
Pledge $50.00 and we will etch your name AND someone's name of your choice onto our 2013 competition robot under the label of "Johnny 5 Level Sponsor" which will be seen by thousands of people across the country. You will also receive the previously listed awards.
Pledge $100.00 and receive one of our competition t-shirts designed specifically for the year. We will also host one live video-conference with you and friends of your choice during the build-season to discuss our plans and take any suggestions you might have.
We will also etch your name AND someone's name of your choice onto our 2013 competition robot under the label of "C-3PO Level Sponsor" which will be seen by thousands of people across the country as well as all other previously listed awards.
Pledge $500.00 and you will receive a 3d printed model of our competition robot. You will also have your name AND someone's name of your choice etched under our "Terminator Level Sponsor" as well as receiving all previously discussed awards.
Pledge $3000.00 and your name will be added as one of our official sponsors and read aloud at all of the competitions we attend. You will also have your name etched on a specially made panel of the robot. You will also receive previously listed awards.
The ultimate in robot mania - Pledge $5000.00 and you will be asked to name our robot. Its name will be engraved largely and prominently on our robot and be featured at any competition, media event, or demonstration we attend. You will will also receive previously listed awards. ***Please Note*** Panthrobotics reserves the rights to determine if a name is inappropriate for a high-school level competition and will ask for a different name if necessary.