FIRST Robotics competition, in which teams of youths put their robotic creations in head-to-head action against each other, returns to Williams Arena this year. But this is not a robotics tournament that appeals to baser instincts or electronic bloodlust; there are no battle bots here. FIRST Robotics rewards ingenious design in creating robots that succeed at the given game. Each team starts with a standard set of robotic pieces and an explanation of the objective for the competition. This year's game, dubbed Lunacy, requires teams to form alliances in order to load balls into a trailer being pulled by opposing teams' robots. And, just to make it more difficult, they're playing on a super-slick floor that will cause plenty of collisions. Due to the popularity of last year's regional competition, this year organizers had to create two fields of teams (one at Williams Arena, the other at Mariucci Arena), with as many as 120 teams able to participate. Winning crews head to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in April to take on teams from around the U.S. and ten other countries for the ultimate prize in youth robotics competition. For more info visit www.mnfirstregional.org.
Thu., April 2, 7:45 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri., April 3, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., April 4, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 2009