Illinois Tech Robotics launches “Roombotics 2018” competition

Fri Sep 07, 2018

At a general body meeting on the evening of Friday, September 7, Illinois Tech Robotics (ITR) announced the beginning of an internal competition named Roombotics 2018: Iron-Giant Chef. In this competition, teams of five members each will use a modified Roomba autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner to complete a series of activities in a themed competition setting, competing in a number of categories.

The competition’s theme is based around helping increase the kitchen efficiency of a celebrity chef known as Gordon RAM-sey. RAM-sey has hired the teams of five to complete various tasks around his kitchen, including opening a cabinet door, adding ingredients to a pan, turning on a stove, stirring the pan, and placing the pan in a scoring zone. Each team will get three attempts with 210 seconds per attempt to complete the seven steps, earning up to 85 total points. The team that earns the most points in a single attempt will win the competition. In addition to the main competition, there will also be awards and trophies for documentation, unique robot design, and unique interpretation of contest rules.

The contest’s rules state that the final robots must be able to fit in a four-foot (1.2192 meter) cube and weight less than 45 pounds (20.4117 kilograms) and must be based around the Roomba initially provided by ITR. The Roombas can be modified using any material available in the ITR lab with the suggestion that the teams use an Arduino system to control their robot, as this is the same system that ITR uses in its official competition robots.

ITR’s Vice President of Publicity, Joe Ricker, told TechNews how this internal competition is designed to teach the organization’s members the “basics of our robots. For example, we've written a tutorial that goes through the basics of Arduino and Arduino communication which is vital to our main competition robots.  We hope that by introducing our members to these topics now, we will save a lot of time teaching them when they start working on the competition robots. Saving time is important for us since we only get the rules for our competition at the end of the fall semester.”

Indeed, the structure and rules of the Roombotics competition are no coincidence. Many of the guidelines and suggested methods for this competition are in line with the Midwest Robotics Design Competition (MRDC) that ITR will compete in during the spring semester.

The Roombotics 2018: Iron-Giant Chef competition is scheduled for a tentative date of November 4 (subject to change by ITR). In the meantime, students interested in either the competition or joining ITR can email the organization at [email protected]. The organization also has weekly general body meetings every Friday at 7 p.m. in its lab in Technology Park - South (located at 3424 South State Street). More specific directions to the lab, as well as more information on the organization can be found on its Facebook page at and its website at