Caltech’s Millikan Pond the Site of Fierce Aquatic-Robotic Battle Tuesday

Robots take to water in fierce aquatic competition in Robots take to water in fierce aquatic competition A Caltech student carries his Aquatic Robot to start the 34th annual Engineering design competition in Millikan Pond at Caltech. Team Pirates of the Millikean wait to start the 34th annual Engineering design competition in Millikan Pond at Caltech. A Hybrid amphibious robot are ready for Millikan Pond.Robots take to water in fierce aquatic competition in Aquatic Robots climb onto Millikan Island.Caltech engineer students work on their aquatic robot.Caltech mechanical engineering students designed, built, and operate hybrid, radio-controlled robotic vehicle, to meet exact design specifications and challenges, as part of their mechanical engineering final exam or project.Team School children from the Pasadena area watch teams named: Finding Waboba, Misteletein, Pirates of the Millikean, and Team Undescided, take part in Caltech\'s Engineering and Applied Science ME.72 Waboba Bot. The 34th Annual Engineering Design Competition, Aquatic Robotics Competition.At the start of each match, teams directed their three robots down opposing entrance ramps and race toward the Waboba Ball tower.Caltech students compete to navigate and take command of Milliken Pond in a robotic engineering competition, dubbed

By DONNA BALANCIA | Photography by JAMES CARBONE

5:01 am | March 13, 2019


Caltech teams navigated the water and conquered Millikan Pond on the Institute’s campus in a highly competitive robotic engineering competition, dubbed Waboba Bot on Tuesday.

Teams within Caltech prepped their best water machines, but it’s no easy feat for amphibious machines to go through water, crawl up a hill and scoop up balls.

According to the rules, each team must deploy a fleet of three hybrid, amphibious robotic vehicles to win control of the pond.

But the rules are challenging:

To win this competition, the robots must traverse from dry land to water, navigate and climb onto Millikan Island to rescue the Golden Waboba Ball and fire cannons which release more red or blue Waboba balls into play.

“What we mean by robots are robotic vehicles and the vehicles have to be designed and constructed by our students in full. These are not kits that they purchase online,” said Caltech Mechanical and Civil Engineering Professor Michael Mello.

The robot builds were done from scratch every step of the way. Students used Caltech’s mechanical engineering shop for the high-tech machining, laser cutters, 3-D printers, and water jet cutters needed for crafting robotic parts, according to Mello.

The design process included utilizing personalized computer-aided design software (CAD), undertaking mandatory design reviews from faculty, and more.

“We essentially put them through what they would go through an industry where they would go from a design concept to prototypes, through reliability testing, all the way on through final stage where they deliver the product as they are today,” explained Mello.

The winning team? Team Misteltein took home the top prize in the 34th Annual Engineering Design Competition, capstone of the ME 72 course.