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34 Teams To Battle In Finals For 6.270

By Thomas R. Karlo
Contributing Editor

Contestants in this year's 6.270 Autonomous Lego Robot Design competition impounded their robots last night following the qualifying round of the contest.

After four weeks of design and construction, teams had three chances yesterday to qualify for today's competition, which will be viewed by a live audience and broadcast on MITStudent Cable on channel 36 and the Internet.Of the 40 teams in this year's competition, 34 qualified to compete in today's competition, and 16 of them will enter the final round undefeated.

Robots were required to demonstrate an ability to score points during the qualifying round. Winning the first qualifying round allows a robot to progress to the double-elimination competition without any losses. If a robot loses the first round but later qualifies, it starts out tomorrow's tournament with one of the two allowed losses.

Contestants get needed break

Impoundment, which lasts until midday today, is intended to allow teams to recover from the last few days of hectic work and to permit organizers to examine robots and their programs for rule violations.

With many competitors working around the clock during the final days of the competition, the enforced break was welcome. "I'm going to go sleep," said Gong K. Shen '99 after putting her team's robot in the impounding area.

For Shen's team, Tuesday's qualifying round was a victory in itself. "Once we qualified, we were happy,"said James M. Montgomery '98. One problem his team encountered had to do with geography; one member lived on campus while the other lived on the Boston side of the Charles River. "It helps if your teammate lives closer,"Shen said.

Other teams were looking more toward tomorrow's competition as the test of their work. "We started early, which really helped," said John C. Whaley '98. He and teammates Zachary B. Emig '98 and Jeffery M. Foran '98 were pleased by their performance in the qualifying round. "It worked even though it wasn't supposed to," said Emig.

One major reason that accounted for some teams' failure to qualify was their design of "all-or-nothing robots," said Yonah Schmeidler '97, a contest organizer.

Robots designed to use a single strategy to score large numbers of points risked failing to qualify if they did not perform perfectly during today's round. Overall, the number of robots failing to qualify was "a little worse than usual," Schmeidler said.

Simply completing the contest was a relief for many participants. Few will be missing carrying the boxes that they have used to cart around parts and robots on the way to lab and back. "It just gets heavier and heavier," Shen said.

Tomorrow's competition will be held in 26-100 at 6 p.m. Organizers recommend arriving before 5:30 for a seat in the room. In previous years, the room has reached capacity, and the overflow audience has been directed to 34-101.