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RoboCats showcase skills at Army event

May 19, 2010 - The Oxford RoboCats showcased their world-class talent to middle and high school students from around Michigan during a two-day event held at Macomb Community College Sports and Expo Center in Warren, MI on May 4-5.

The team participated in the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center's (TARDEC) Fourth Annual Robotics, Engineering and Technology (RET) week.

TARDEC was started in WWII to bring top automotive engineers together with the military and universities in the area. The first focus of TARDEC is fuel efficiency for military vehicles.

"We were invited to bring our robot down to demonstrate (it), and more importantly, to allow the kids to actually drive the machine and get them excited about science and technology," said parent volunteer Dante Zuccaro.

Zuccaro said that the RoboCats worked alongside the students in attendance while they drove the robot that the Robocats featured during the World Championships in Atlanta, Georgia.

"I think they did a really great job," said TARDEC spokesman John Wray. "It's smart kids doing good things."

Students who attended the event heard from leading robotic experts, saw demonstrations of current robots and participated in a robot-building challenge.

"Part of what we do here is an outreach effort to the next generation of robotic," Wray said.

He added that by working with programs like Oxford, who competed in the nationwide competition, TARDEC is supporting the robotics competitions and the next generation of engineers.

"I think it was a real good event for the kids to get some hands on learning to develop robotics and technology and I think they did a great job of getting them further interested in robotics and technology and showing them that it can be a fun and rewarding career path," Zuccaro said.

Wray indicated that robotics could be a future industry for Michigan because of the growth and interest in robotics.

"It's something you don't think about for Michigan or think about for Oxford," he said.

According to Wray, the lesser known aspect of TARDEC is their focus on robotics.

He said that the plant in Warren was the military's focal point for ground robotics.

Wray noted that 8,000 robots are currently in use in conflict area's worldwide and that they all come TARDEC in Warren.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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