Football may be coming to IUPUI, thanks to the IUPUI Robotics Club

By Rich Schneider, IU Communications Specialist:

A T-shirt sold at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis boasts, tongue in cheek, that IUPUI is undefeated in football since 1969.

The joke is that IUPUI, founded in 1969, has never fielded a football team. But that may change this coming academic year, if the IUPUI Robotics Club has its way.

The club intends to double the number of robotic football players it now has to eight, meeting the required number of players to field an eight-member team in what might be called an intercollegiate robot football league.

IUPUI Robotics Club

The IUPUI Robotics Club took its four robot football players to South Bend on March 29 to play in the Robot Football Combine at Notre Dame. The Jaguars were pitted against teams from the campuses of the University of Notre Dame, Valparaiso University and Purdue University.

As it is on actual football fields, Notre Dame has been a leading contender when it comes to robot football. Two years ago, Notre Dame’s robot football team played in what is believed to be the first intercollegiate robot football game, beating Ohio Northern University.

Anna Glumb, who is studying electrical engineering at the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI and is president of the IUPUI Robotics Club, said the Jaguar robots competed in several skills tests during the combine.

One of the tests was for speed and another for accuracy: The team’s quarterback had to throw passes to a robot receiver at designated spots on a playing field. A third test involved a robot pushing a weight across a line, while a fourth test determined the agility of a robot to maneuver through a cone course.

The IUPUI robots’ best performance was on the accuracy test, placing third.

Glumb said the robots, about the size of a large computer printer on wheels, are powered by a 12-volt battery and controlled by the same kind of device used for radio-controlled cars. The playing field is an indoor court. The ball is the size of souvenir-sized footballs. Sensors determine when the robots have been hit or tackled.

Quarterback

In addition to the quarterback, other skill players are a kicker, who has to send the ball up to 90 feet downfield, and the center, who has to be able to hand off the ball.

“The team has to build the robots from scratch, with the exception of one part that is provided, to certain dimensions and with designated materials,” Glumb said.

“I think it’s really cool,” Glumb said of working with the robot football players. “This provides an actual experience rather than an experience in a lab.”

Glumb said football won’t be the club’s only activity in the coming academic year.

The club plans to build a robot Jaguar that could be used for promotional purposes. It’s also considering working with a drone. Since the club uses a 3-D printer to make parts, it will be researching those devices as well.

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