IMG_8882What would a Maker Faire be without robots?!  Well, we have a variety of robots and robotics exhibits and talks (see below).  But the larger robots that attendees are going to get to drive (and that will be located in Robot Grotto off the Studio One Building), are at the fair in large part due to the Bay Area student robotics club community.

First, there’s three FIRST Robotics teams.  One is the Scotbots from Piedmont High School.  Two are Terra Nova Robotics from Terra Nova High School in Pacifica.

FIRST is a worldwide robotics competition program. There are 350,000+ FIRST teams around the world, and over 100 in the Bay Area.  It is very organized, with five different levels:

All the Scotbots and Terra Nova teams are FTC or FIRST Tech Challenge robots.  The organizing principle for the FIRST competitions is that every year the FIRST parent entity announces that year’s design challenge.  One year it might be about a robot climbing a structure and flinging frisbees through certain size slots.  Another might be shooting baskets with basketballs. From the FIRST website:

Teams of up to 10 students are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots to compete on a 12 X 12’ field in an Alliance format against other teams. Robots are built using a TETRIX® platform that is reusable from year-to-year using a variety of languages. Teams, including Coaches, Mentors, and Volunteers, are required to develop strategy and build robots based on sound engineering principles. Awards are given for the competition as well as community outreach, design, and other real-world accomplishments.

FIRST was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, an inventor and entrepeneur who designed and built the Segway, those self-balancing two-wheeled people mover machines.

These teams travel globally to compete.  The Terra Nova team is bringing a state champion robot!  And attendees of all ages will be allowed to drive some of these competition bots!

P1180156The other cool student-oriented robot group coming to the fair is UC Berkeley’s PIE (Pioneers in Engineering)PIE is a UCB student club that provides a quality STEM learning experience for students in underserved Bay Area high schools.  They offer a year-long mentorship program called Prep and an annual 8-week robotics competition.  For just $100 per team, they provide a robotics kit that’s fully designed and developed in-house, as well as trained college student mentors for each team.  Super awesome program!  (And speaking of UC Berkeley, thanks to them and their School of Engineering for coming in as lead sponsors of the 2013 East Bay Mini Maker Faire!)

Here’s a video of the Oakland Tech High School winning moment at the 2013 PiE final:

There will be a whole lot of other robotics oriented makers and presentations at the fair, including:


  • Arxterra Telerobotic Communities
  • The Tea Engine
  • Pxlbots
  • ButterBot
  • Julia Morgan School for Girls Engineering Programs
  • Aritifist Robotics
  • Mini-Bots


  • Drones, Planes, and Flying Robots
  • Multirotors 101
  • Getting Started with Arduino (time to be confirmed today)

David Calkins is the founder of Robogames, the “olympics of robots,” where operators and their creations compete in over 50 different events, from fire-fighters, LEGO bots, hockey bots, walking humanoids, soccer bots, sumo bots, and even androids that do kung-fu.

David and his crew are not only bringing combots for show at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, but he’s also doing a workshop Sunday on “How to Make a Combat Robot.” David will cover all the basics of how robots move and control their speed, as well as how to build a basic bot using cheap parts, pitfalls to avoid, and all sorts of other tips.

The Piedmont Scotbots, a U.S. FIRST robotics team from Piedmont High, is bringing their combot arena and will be letting folks operate their robots. !!!  The FIRST Tech Challenge is an exciting robotics competition designed for high school students. An accessible and affordable robotics kit is used to solve a different challenge each year. Thousands of teams from all fifty states compete in local contests to go to the annual world championship. Here’s one of their entries for Robogames last year:

Troy Mock is bringing his Rambunctious Combat Robots:  Warpig, a 1 pound bot with a powerful lifter and ultra-strong titanium armor, and Attitude, a 3 pound bot with an 8 inch titanium saw blade, designed to cut, rip, and shred!  Most recently, both these robots competed in the international 2011 Robogames.  Out of nearly 60 battlebots total, Warpig and Attitude both took a well earned bronze medal.  Check them in action:

More robots at EBmMF are coming from The Pioneers in Engineering (PiE) Robotics Competition for Bay Area high school students.   This cool program offers UC Berkeley students to mentor local high school students as they design, construct, and program a mobile robot.   A key feature of the competition is the $100 per team entrance fee, which ensures that finances are not a barrier to entry.  You’ll be able to drive one of their robots as well.

The Miller Institute for Learning with Technology hosts a wide variety of hands-on workshops, including Program-A-Robot, Build-A-Computer, and Troubleshooting 101. Their East Bay Mini Maker Faire booth will illustrate several of the workshops, and they’ll also be providing hand-on examples of robots, computers, and music.