About RSA and RoboGames
RoboGames was founded as the ROBOlympics in 2004 as an exercise in cross-pollination, and has grown into the world's largest open robot competition (according to the Guinness Book of World Records). The event was founded by David Calkins, president of the non-profit Robotics Society of America (RSA.) Calkins, who participated in all types of robot competitions around the world, realized the need for cross-pollination between events — as too many robot builders over-specialized within a single field. He would suggest that contestants from combat try their hand at sumo, that sumo builders start a robot soccer team, and encourage programmers to trade in their compilers for a soldering iron. As few roboticists took his advice, he realized the only way to get the various disciplines to learn what exciting things were going on outside their specialty was to create an event that brought them all into the same venue.
Competitors from all over the world now make annual plans to compete in over seventy different events sponsored by RoboGames. About two thirds of the robot events are autonomous, while the remaining third are remotely operated (ROV's). RoboGames is co-managed by the Robotics Society of America and ComBots LLC. The RSA organizes all the autonomous and humanoid events, while ComBots leases the combat arena to the RSA and manages the combat side of the house ("the milk in the back of the store.") Combat robotics is currently the biggest crowd draw, getting tens of thousands of spectators to the event.
Even though it is run on a shoestring budget, RoboGames is similar to the human olympics in that competitors are challenged in a number of different events that showcase focused abilities and skills. The largest difference is that at RoboGames, the competitors are robots (the coaches are human engineers.) As of 2010, people from 39 countries have participated in RoboGames and continue to use the event as a way of exploring new technology and challenging themselves as engineers. RoboGames also features non-competitive demonstrations and talks by leading robotics industry designers and engineers from the world.