Third Annual RoboGames - International Robot Competition Returns To San Francisco - Robot Builders From Around The World Vie For Gold Medals And Fame

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Walking Androids, Art robots, and the best flame-throwing, high-energy, steel-crunching robots in the world come to SF for the annual robot olympics! This year robots from 20 countries return to show off the worlds' best technology and innovation. Combat robots fight behind bullet proof glass, while humanoid soccer bots delight kids and adults. Sideshow entertainment includes the Beer-Can Can-can girls, smoothies made in a fire-spewing 240cc V-8 tiki drink blender, and music from Bay Area indy bands.

When most people think of androids, they think of actors in costumes. But these metal guys can really run!

This June 16-18, hundreds of robots from around the world will descend on San Francisco to show the world the latest in technology along with exciting competitions that will make NASCAR look like a hair-stylists spray-off.

Started in 2004 as ROBOlympics, the third annual RoboGames brings robot builders from 20 countries to California to compete in over 50 events. Combat Robots (made famous by years of television), are a cornerstone of the international competition - but are joined by walking androids, human exo-skeletons, soccer bots, and much more. Fire-breathing, 340 pound behemoths as big as motorcycles crash into each other and the bullet-proof glass walls separating them from the audience. Thousands of attendees will be amazed by the androids, robot sumo, and hockey-bots among others that will be showcased at the event.

What other event in the world could end up in both Wired magazine's and ESPN's top ten - Wired called RoboGames one of "The Best Ten North American Geek Fests," and ESPN's SportCenter placed last year's event on its Weekend's Top Ten!

200 teams with 400 robots and 500 human engineers will be flying in from Singapore, Brazil, Japan, Britain, Switzerland, Russia, Columbia - among many other countries. Many of the robots competing have taken years to complete, and cost over $100,000 - Walking androids, bartending bots, and menacing combots alike.

"The humanoid soccer is going to be really stellar" says David Calkins, founder of the event at robotics teacher at San Francisco State University. "When most people think of androids, they think of actors in costumes. But these metal guys can really run!"

Robot hockey is the newest event - combining the thrills of combat, but in a non-violent team environment. Hockey bots play three against three, using street hockey pucks and 15 pound robots. Teams from Canada, Russia, Brazil, and the US will face-off in the first ever competition - played with wheels instead of skates.

The Servo magazine-sponsored Tetsujin event has also been added to RoboGames. Robots are no longer the sole competitors at RoboGames. Tetsujin is Japanese for "Iron Man" and involves humans wearing metallic exo-skeletons which radically increases human strength and potential. Think of the forklift suit from Alien, only live and in person!

While the average contestant is middle-aged, 1/3 are female and range in age from 12 to 72. At RoboGames 2005, the 'heated' fire-fighting robot contest was mostly 40-something professional engineers, yet 13 year old Tony Pratkanis took home the gold medal, beating the pros! While 72 year old retired machinist Tom Petruccelli took the gold in middleweight Combat, Reut Golan, a 9 year old girl from Israel managed to capture bronze in the open.

The event will also include interactive displays from NASA, Lego Mindstorms, and many other robotics companies and groups. Families can watch the action in the stands as well as join in the fun.

Press Preview Days:

Reporters, photographers and videographers should all plan on showing up early to catch special previews of the action and interview contestants (and maybe their robots!)

Wednesday, June 14 - Soccer robots and hockey robots will do demonstrations, as the teams prepare for the medal events.

Thursday, June 15 - Large scale combat robots do trial runs behind bullet proof glass in the 44,000 pound combat arena. Other events also on hand for demos and many builders available for interviews.

Friday, June 16 - Opening ceremonies and qualifying rounds

Saturday-Sunday, June 17-18 - Medal events

Facts at a glance:

Date: Friday-Sunday, June 16-18, 2006, Noon-10PM

Where: Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA

Cost: $20/adult, $15/kids 17-7, 6 and under free

Web:    http://www.RoboGames.net
Images: 300 dpi print ready photos at http://RoboGames.net/pix

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David Calkins
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