Posts Tagged roborebels

Ready for the Return of Robotics?

Are you ready for the kickoff of the 2012 US FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)? I am! In about 12 hours I’ll be in the middle of an excited group of high school kids at the St Louis Planetarium watching a video broadcast from Southern New Hampshire University – Manchester Campus via NASA broadcast where this years competition will be announced!

Last year was my first season of mentoring the Roborebels Team 1329. It was an amazing experience. I can’t wait to hear this year’s challenge. Will the robot be required to drive, climb, grab, jump, or even swim? Or some combination of these? We will find out soon! We will spend the weekend brainstorming designs and poring over the design specs. At the end of the 7 week build season the robots will be put to the test is friendly co-optition as founder Dean Kamen likes to describe it.

I was amazed by what the students designed and built last year. I’m sure this year will be the same.

From an educational side, it is such an inspiring sight to see so many young men and women getting excited about science and engineering. After all, it will be up to them in a few years to take the lead in our economy and solve the next generation of technical challenges.

In the mean time, I need to put on my safety glasses and roll up my sleeves to help the students.

Best of luck to everyone involved!

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My Year – 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has helped me this year. It has been an amazing year! Here’s a short list of my highlights:

– In January I gave a SIP Tutorial for the FCC staff in DC. It was a great event, and hopefully I will get another chance to do it again in 2012. The FCC has lots of VoIP and SIP work to do with the transition of the PSTN and E911 to all VoIP. Hopefully we can soon end the ridiculous subsidies for rural telephone service and instead use them to subsidized high speed Internet service for rural areas.  My friend Henning Schulzrinne was just appointed Chief Technology Officer, so I know the FCC is in good hands technically.  I also enjoyed giving the SIP Tutorial in Miami, Sydney, and Austin.

– In February I published my first novel, a Techno thriller about a massive attack on the Internet that gives this blog its name – Counting from Zero. Little did I know how much hacking and security stories there would be in 2011. Some have even called 2011 the Year of the Hactivist, which is hard to argue with. Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the response to the book. Thank you do much to anyone who has read, reviewed, tweeted, or blogged about it – I am very grateful. Look for more book news in early 2012…

– In February I also started blogging and using Twitter. It has been a lot of fun! Thanks to everyone who has read my blog posts or followed me on Twitter.

– In March I participated in my first robotics competition. The experience was amazing, and I look forward to the start of another build season in just over a week!

– In April, the ZRTP VoIP media security protocol was published as an RFC by the IETF, after 6 years of hard work.  Editing this document is my small contribution to making the Internet more secure.  Here’s to more adoption and deployment in 2012.

– In May the RTCWEB Working Group was chartered by the IETF. The work is progressing slowly but steadily. I expect more progress in 2012, and hope for some strong security to be built into the protocols – lets show that we have learned something over the years…

– In June, I participated in the first ever SIP Network Operators Conference or SIPNOC for short. It was a great success and really shows how SIP has grown up. I am privaleged to have another term on the Board of Directors of the SIP Forum. With the publication of SIPconnect the SIP Trunking recommendation, the business use of SIP continues to grow and expand.

– In November, I has my first experience as a cricket coach. My son started the Priory Amateur Cricket Association or PACA as a club at his school. It has been a blast so far helping the boys learn the basics of cricket. They have done a great job, although we need to reduce the number of no balls! In 2012 we plan to play a one day match against a local cricket club.

So, here’s to 2011 – it was definitely an interesting year!  I hope it was a good one for you and yours.  Here’s to 2012!

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A Different Kind of ‘Bot

RoborebelsIn my techno thriller Counting from Zero, I write about a botnet, short for robot network – a group of compromised computers organized using the Internet to act in coordinated ways. These ‘bots are used to launch packet flooding attacks called distributed denial of service attacks, or DDOS. In short they are bad news, and my protagonist invests considerable energy in tracking down the botnet to try to neutralize it.

Today, I’m writing about a very different ‘bot – a robot that I have helped build as part of the robotics club at my son’s school. I’m taking the day off work to help setup in readiness for tomorrow’s robotics competition.

This is my first year as a mentor of roborebels robotics club at St Louis Priory School, Team #1329 FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC). For the past 7 weeks we have been constructing the robot and writing the Java software to control it.  I have really enjoyed the experience.  From watching the kickoff video, reading the rule book, brainstorming the design, to actually constructing and driving the robot: it has been great!  I’ve been really impressed with the way the high school kids have taken on the challenge.  At the start, it is obvious some have never used power tools before, but by the end, they don’t think twice as they move from the drill press to the chop saw.

FIRST Robotics

This year’s game is called “Logomotion”, and the robots have to hang inflated tubes on pegs on the wall.  It should be a lot of fun!   The day when we hung our first tube on a hook 10 ft (3m) up in the air was really a thrill.  Now we will see if we can do it in the competition!

After spending a day getting our robot ready and practicing the game, I’m just amazed at the variety and creativity of all the groups.  We all started with the same goals and description, but came up with so many different designs, shapes, and styles.  Now, I can’t wait for tomorrow’s competition.  And it is nice to be working with a good ‘bot for a change.

roborebels First Robotics Competition FRC Robot

roborebels First Robotics Competition FRC Robot at 2011 St. Louis Regional Comptetition

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