APTOS — Cabrillo College’s Robotics Club won a nationwide competition last week, besting 23 other colleges and universities in a three-day event at the University of New Mexico. The team received its award for the victory at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week. The club was competing in the fourth-annual Swarmathon, in which programmers and engineers attempt to create computer code to control several small robots – a ‘swarm’ – that are tasked with analyzing terrain and carrying out a host of tasks.
Cabrillo’s team has participated in the NASA Swarmathon since 2016, when it won the virtual competition, in which participants wrote code for a rover that was then executed in a simulator.
In 2017 and 2018 the club entered the physical competition, in which participants built robots from kits and programmed them to find and bring back small blocks.
For the latest Swarmathon, the virtual and physical competitions were combined, making it the hardest yet. In the final round, the second-place team collected five resources, while Cabrillo’s team collected 20.
“This is the best swarming team that we’ve seen over the past four years of the competition,” said Professor Melanie Moses, the Principal Investigator for the NASA Swarmathon.
As part of its award, the Cabrillo College Robotics Club included a $2,000 check and a gold ‘Swarmie’ trophy.