Thirteen teams of predator robots captured soup-can sized victims in the 22nd annual Undergraduate Design Competition Saturday afternoon at the Evanston campus of Northwestern University.

Sporting names such as Brobotics, Fratasaurus, and R2-NU, the student-designed machines were equipped with laser beams that would spot the prey, wrapped in shiny reflective tape.

An up-close view of one of the robots.

The robots, comprised mainly of microprocessors, actuators, motors, gears, and electronic sensors, were a motley sight. So long as they occupied no more than one cubic foot of space, they qualified to participate, even if they consisted of more than one separate machine.

This robot team, named Nice Shoes, consisted of two machines.

The teams received points for each prey captured in two-minute periods, plus additional points if they successfully brought the prey “home.”

Team positions its robot at the end of a rectangular table.

Close to 100 persons, including team members, their friends, families, and spectators who just like to see robots at war, gathered around a rectangular table to watch the action and cheer on the robots.

Some of the most enthusiastic spectators were young children who delighted in seeing the machines go after their prey.

At the end of the afternoon, cash prizes were awarded to the top three teams.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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