Robot apocalypse in Boise

Team mascots, fast-paced action and high-energy music revving up cheering fans — all for robots.

“It’s a crazy time,” said Leticia Moro, a Les Bois Junior High School freshman. “All the hard work pays off when you see your robot in action.”

Students from Idaho, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Utah and Canada have been designing, constructing and testing their robots since January to participate in the Idaho FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) Robotics Regional Competitions. High School students from 38 robot teams are competing for the top honor this weekend at Boise State University’s Taco Bell Arena.

Students are competing in the “Steamworks” challenge. In the game, two adventurer clubs, alliances of three teams and three robots, prepare for a long-distance airship race. The teams need to collect fuel, represented by balls shot into a target, or the “boiler;” deliver gears to engage rotors; and then climb aboard by having their robot ascend a rope.

“Robotics is opening up opportunities for my future,” said Jason Christiansen, a Pocatello High School junior. “This is a great high school experience for me.”

The teams had six weeks to design their robots, which can weigh up to 150 pounds. They will compete in matches through Saturday, with the top teams advancing to next month’s world championships in Houston and St. Louis.

The 13 Idaho teams in the competition come from Boise, Buhl, Driggs, Hayden, Idaho Falls, Meridian, Nampa, Pocatello and Rathdrum.

The event is free to the public. For the full schedule click here.