Get Your Bot On! is back for 2014 with “Positronic: Robots and Brains” November 14-16, 2014

Get Your Bot On! “Positronic: Robots and Brains” is presented in partnership with the Ontario Science Centre. That’s right! This year’s theme is brains. Robots have brains. And robots help people. This year we’ll pay special attention to the types of robots that will help us as we grow old, enable us to live independently, keep us company and help us as our brains fail us. This by no means will limit the types of robots you can build but we’ll have special experts helping us understand the challenges and opportunities for robots in this area.

We are thrilled that this event will be hosted at the Ontario Science Centre and that the Centre is simultaneously presenting their Robots Rule festival, the largest celebration of robotics in the region.

Registration is open – and we are offering early bird rates until October 1. You can register here.

We also have a number of new partnerships we are working on and will announce details shortly:

  • The Intelligent Assistive Technology and Systems Research Lab develops zero-effort technologies that are adaptive, flexible, and intelligent, to enable users to participate fully in their daily lives. Check out the great work at IATSL here:
  • XYZ Interactive has joined us as our first partner in the new Technology Partner program. Check out their technology incorporated into the new MIP robot by Wow-Wee and the Lexus RX350 demonstrator vehicle:

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Get Your Bot On! 2012 Team and Winners

Get Your Bot On! 2012 Winning Robots: Lady Sterling, Emocat and Ike

Preparations for Get Your Bot On! 2014  are well underway but we haven’t even told you which teams won last year and what bots they made.

We had over 60 participants for the 2012 hackathon. Artists, engineers, designers and programmers all came together for the weekend to build prototypes of their robot ideas. The weekend kicked off at the Idee offices where participants had a preview of the kit, shared their robot ideas and formed teams. They worked Saturday and part of Sunday on their bots with the help of our mentors and with help from each other. The collaboration was amazing.

Thanks to our sponsors there were delicious meals, snacks, and beer. Our numerous volunteers made sure everything went smoothly and everyone had what they needed.

The bots were judged based on three categories, Design, Innovation and Technology.  Every team, regardless of previous experience and skill,  created a moving bot. It was truly impressive!

The Design category was dominated by Lady Sterling, who may be the world’s first cocktail party robot created by Stefanie Hutka (@StefanieHutka) and Ross McKegney (@rossmckegney). Lady Sterling uses sensors and motors to listen and react to the environment around her. Stefanie a neuroscientist, explained the team was trying to explore the processes by which we filter multiple audio sources  in an environment such as a cocktail party in order to focus on specific interactions. During the building phase, Lady Sterling was already the life of the party with Stefanie providing live music to help with debugging.

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Special Thanks to our 2012 Get Your Bot On! Mentors

Without mentors there would be no hackathon.   We thank them all for their time and for working closely with our participants. We received amazing feedback from all the robohackers, all were grateful you were there. Many of them would not have been able to demo on Sunday without your guidance.

We hope you will join us again in the future!

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Thanks to our 2012 Judges, Nora Young, James MacLean, and Norman White

Thanks to our fantastic judges Nora Young and James MacLean who had the difficult job of selecting winners for each of the Design, Innovation, and Technology categories.  They spent hours reviewing the robot demos and debating in order to make the selections. With so many wonderful robots it wasn’t easy.

Thanks as well to Norman White who shared his expertise with our teams and helped them with their creations.

This event could not have happened without them!

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The night before the Get your bot on demos

If the first day of Get your bot on was about shaping an idea and putting all the pieces together, the second day was all about the hustle. We wrapped up the first day of the hackathon a little past midnight. We left the Mozilla offices after having seen some of the robots being demo-ed and practically completed. Of course the difference between a robot that is completely done and ready for a demo and a robot undergoing a beta test is night and day!

The second day of the hackathon saw teams sprinting for the finish line hoping and praying for no hardware failures and miracles. I saw my fair share of teams asking for an extra hour or the pushing back of the demos to later in the afternoon. We had a hard stop at 1 PM and as 1 PM got closer, the building and testing frénésie was surreal!

We had 19 robots completed which was going to make the judge’s work pretty though. Each team had 2 minutes to present its robot, discuss its salient features and explain what was used to create the robot. I have to say that being witness to the last ditch efforts to get some of the robots performing, I was expecting a large number of failures during the demos but no, pretty much every robot performed its tasks – some better than others – but overall: I was DAMN impressed at what could be built with what seemed to me bits of hardware duct taped together! Well, not really, since we had an awesome kit to start with, but there were a lot of improvisations.

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Get Your Bot On – day one

And so it started! This is day one of the hackathon but really it is day two. We got started on Friday with the planning sessions and workshops. The kits we put together survived the scrutiny and handling of participants and that was great given the amount of planning required to put them together.

Get Your Bot On Kit:

The Get your bot on hackathon was sold out. We started a waitlist and that also filled up pretty quickly. Like Dave McLure said:

The smart wait listed participants joined us on Friday for the planning sessions and workshops. Since that gave them an opportunity to mingle with all participants and mentors, most of them managed to get accepted in an already formed team.

Jen – whom we fondly call General Jen – facilitated an awesome team planning session: we had teams who were already formed and knew what they were going to build, participants who had ideas but no teams, wait-listed participants some of whom had ideas, but not team and no registration and it all resulted in 22 robot building teams! Continue reading


Robotics Hackathon: Today is the day!

Excitement in the air. We are just about there. We have been busy most of the night sorting and packing the hackathon kits. Hardware and electronic parts have been arriving at the office all week long and our library has now been converted into a full hardware storage facility.

In a few hours we will be getting all the hardware to the Mozilla offices and preparing for the hackathon soiree in the TinEye HQ. We have a full schedule for tonight and are looking forward to welcoming you and discussing your projects and meeting your team. Thank you!

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