'Peacebots' Protest Robot Conflict Event

Peacebots organized by a professor and students in an introductory Computer Science class at Bryn Mawr protested "Robot Conflict," a Battlebots-style event organized by the Northeast Robotics Club (NERC).

(Peacebot: "Code for Peace")

NERC organizers proclaimed their intentions for the Robot Conflict event:

They're not just on television any more...come experience the TRUE POWER of Combat Robotics in person at The Franklin Institute Robot Conflict on Saturday, October 20, 2007.

Nearly 40 robots ranging in size from 12lb. Hobbyweights, to 30lb. Sportsman will be placed into a custom design arena where they will have 3 minutes to smash, toss, or cut their opponents to bits. Some of the 'bots will rely on their small but deadly power, while others use weapons to inflict maximum destructive damage on their opponent.

Following the event, students and others were invited to talk with the hobbyists and roboticists who competed in the event. The event draws many students from diverse backgrounds and encourages them to pursue careers in engineering and related disciplines.

However, Bryn Mawr computer science professor Doug Blank was hesitant. He took issue with the lack of gender diversity at the event, and invited his class to respond.

According to Bryn Mawr Now, an online publication hosted on the university website, Blank and his students used what appear to be off-the-shelf robots to carry signs with peaceful messages:

Code for Peace.

Make code not war.

Thou shalt not press others' kill switch.

Extendable arms are for hugging.

Blank isn't entirely comfortable with using violence as a pedagogical tool, either.

"Even though it's robots that are fighting and people aren't hurt, the violence is real in a way that a video game, for instance, is not. A lot of real damage is done to the robots."

"Robot parts were flying. The floor got all ripped up, and they had to keep sweeping it up because there were little bot bits all over the place."

I find myself hoping that the above quote was intended to be tongue-in-cheek; Blank also said that he just felt that there were better ways to interest young people in engineering.

I invite readers to name their favorite peaceful robot.

From Bryn Mawr via Robots.net.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/31/2007)

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