Old Man Notices A Thing: Lots of Robot Names

Not the weightiest of topics but after years of having a conversation that was something like this:

Person One: “I think we should have [Fill in robot feature] just like we had on CD-[Fill in robot sequence number].”
Person Two: “No no, that was CD-[Fill in different robot sequence number]”
Person One: “No, I don’t mean THAT feature, I mean THIS OTHER feature.”
Person Three: "You’re both wrong. We actually had that mechanism first on CD-[Fill in lower robot sequence number]
Persons One and Two: “What? You’re crazy. We’re not even taking about that mechanism and even if we were, you have the robot number wrong. The robot you are thinking of was CD-[Different Number] for [Fill in FIRST’s Official Name of Game].”
Person Three: “You mean [Fill in Common Name of Game, example, The Soccer Year]?”
Persons One and Two: “YES!”
Person Three: “Oh yeah, you’re right. Please continue…”

I have come around to the idea that robots should have names, actual names and names of the form “TeamNameOrIntialsOrIconicPhrase”-“NumberOfYearsTeamExisted” don’t count. In fact, I go even farther, practice robots and concept chassis should have actual names too.

TeamName_SequenceNumber names have some positives (specifically you can know which robot was built before/after another) but on the negative side, I believe you give up the ability to have a real conversation about robot without having to get into conversation like the above.

Since I have been on teams that have named their robots and chassis, it is so much better. I still sometimes get corrected about a robot but no more than the number of times I call my son CJ by my daughter’s name Sarah* (I’m terrible with names).

Seriously, year’s hence do you think there will be any doubt about what Robonaut (#118) robot you are taking about when you say “Arsenal” or which Overclocked (#246) robot will be taking about when we say “Scorpion”? No, no there will not.

So… I have 3 questions and I’m out of here.

First, what do you think about the whole naming robots thing?

Second, can you share names that you especially like/dislike?

Third, am I just getting old** or are more teams this year giving their robots real names this year?


Dr. Joe J.

*i.e. about as often as random chance would predict – I’m terrible with names, but I blame my mom. She still calls me Ruthie more often than I deserve :wink:

**Old people being famous for noticing something and then deciding that the thing came into existence the second they first became aware of it. Actually, when I frame it like that, young people are guilty of this too. Parhaps my introductory phrase should be “Am I just being a human or…”?

Personally, I remember robots mostly by their team number and year (ie. 254’s 2014 robot). I couldn’t tell you its name, and I even already forgot that 118’s robot is named “Arsenal” this year.

With the exception of 2006 (rookie year), Dawgma has given each robot a unique name. I still end up calling any of our robots that shoot things ‘Darryl’ (our 2012 robot’s name).

Robots should have names. You’re right that it does make it easier to refer back to past robots, and lends a little personality to the 'bot.

95 has always given each robot a unique name, generally derived from a famous scientist or engineer. Our team name, in fact, comes from a corruption of a robots name. We had named our 2000 robot after Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, but somewhere along the line it got garbled by announcers into Grasshopper. The team rolled with it since it was as good a team name/mascot as anything, even going so far as to paint a grasshopper on the side of the robot. It’s not quite a moth stuck in a relay, but I like to think Adm. Hopper would have approved of the connection.

Other notable names in the teams history; Isaac ('97), Tesla(01), Fynmen('02, and the 'bot I drove), Watson ('11, with Crik as the mini-bot) et. al.

The name is chosen near the end of the build, based on a vote of suggestions offered up by team members. Particular weight is given to names of those who we feel reflect a particular trait we see in the robot, however tenuous the connection. Gauss, for instance, had a lengthy ball shooter that reminded us somewhat of a Gauss cannon of sci/fi fame.

This years robot is named Kovaka, after Dave Kovaka, a former coach and mentor on 95 that sadly passed away this past year.

Made me realize something interesting…I’ll remember our own team’s robots names, but generally refer to other teams robots not by whatever they named it but by team name - game concept/year. But if I tried to refer to a robot that I was a mentor for by the game concept - I’d probably have to think longer about it and get mixed up. Usually robot names are referencing a feature of the robot or an inside joke on the team relevant to that year.

The only exception being #printerbot.

We’ve always named our robots. Often, we name them in honor of mentors who left the team. In fact, I’ve noticed that the robots named after former mentors tend to be better.

First, robots should have names
Second, “land shark”, especially because the students who named it were unaware of the SNL reference.
Third, yes you are, but this particular topic is not persuasive evidence of that. The alternative to getting old is to die young, so…

I fully disagree. I don’t think Arsenal or Scorpion are extremely descriptive of the robot (let alone what team they come from). That would be like FIRST naming one of the previous games “Flame Storm” or “The closest thing you will get to a water game”. It doesn’t match with the game and they could be interchanged even more easily than Krunch 8 being switched with Krunch 10. With [team phrase]-[number of years in existence] you will at least get close to the right number and there’s a good chance you will have the right team.

I personally do not know the name of any robot that isn’t some derivative of the team’s name and that I haven’t worked on. I feel in the situation presented Person One should have a picture or video ready to demonstrate the feature and why it is beneficial.

I especially do not like it when a game announcer uses robot names instead of team names or numbers. I don’t understand what teams or alliances are doing well/poorly when I hear this: “Donkey is pinned to the wall by Phoenix while Sasquatch shoots into the high goal. Ge0rge is holding open the Sally Port Door for Medusa’s Snakes to drive through.”*

There are 127 events this year. If you assume there are two robots at each event that are notable to remember than you need to know 254 robot names. To remember the names of these robots along with any robot that is notable from previous years is a huge ordeal and is near impossible if the name has nothing to relate it to their team or the game.

*These names are made up, I apologize if your robot’s name appeared in here.

  1. Yes robots should have names. We have always named our robots.
  2. We normally choose a name that is weather related ‘Cloudy” ,“Storm”, ‘Thunder”, and this year “Hail” . I am not sure why we had ‘Star Shine “ one year but it worked.
    For other programs it depends on what the robot looks like
  3. I teach robotics and it seems that generally the kids that name the robots are the ones that invest a lot of themselves in the robot or the team. The students that are there for the ride are pretty lackadaisical about naming things. I am not sure if that counts as getting old just an observation.

My team has always named our robots. Our tradition is that anyone who’s there when we get a driving chassis gets to come up with and vote on a name for the robot. For the past two years, we’ve also decorated our robot to match its name (last year was a dinosaur named Pythagasourus Rex and this year its the evil bunny from Monty Python (the Carbonogg Beast). Its fun, helps teams remember us, and has won us an imagery award every year we’ve done it.

On an interesting note, if someone cannibalizes an old robot chassis or merges two robots (like our engineering class likes to do) and makes a robot with a different purpose, it gets a new name even though the originally named chassis was still there.

This is being listed as one of the cooler stories I learned last weekend at UMD.

But are you referring to what robots are named, what their names are called, what robots are called, or what the robots are?

‘You are sad,’ the Knight said in an anxious tone: ‘let me sing you a song to comfort you.’
‘Is it very long?’ Alice asked, for she had heard a good deal of poetry that day.
‘It’s long,’ said the Knight, ‘but it’s very, very beautiful. Everybody that hears me sing it – either it brings the tears into their eyes, or else --’
‘Or else what?’ said Alice, for the Knight had made a sudden pause.
‘Or else it doesn’t, you know. The name of the song is called "Haddocks’ Eyes".’
‘Oh, that’s the name of the song, is it?’ Alice said, trying to feel interested.
‘No, you don’t understand,’ the Knight said, looking a little vexed. ‘That’s what the name is called. The name really is “The Aged Aged Man”.’
‘Then I ought to have said “That’s what the song is called”?’ Alice corrected herself.
‘No, you oughtn’t: that’s quite another thing! The song is called “Ways and Means”: but that’s only what it’s called, you know!’
‘Well, what is the song, then?’ said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.
‘I was coming to that,’ the Knight said. ‘The song really is “A-sitting On a Gate”: and the tune’s my own invention.’

Torbot naming rules: Gotta have “Tor” in the name somewhere. Bonus points if it’s a bad pun.

We’ve had a couple of Tormentors, Entorprise (with Galileo, the minibot), Trogtor, Trajector, JaniTOR, and Bantor. I’m missing a few here…

Has to be one named Doctor.

If you ask me, this sounds like one of those ideas that looks good on paper, but in practice will make things even more confusing. Names are a lot easier to remember when you come up with them, and I can only really recall a few others.

Don’t think there was.

OTOH, then there’s the RoboDox–every last one of those robots is named after a specific branch of being a doctor. Trying to remember what they called this one…

We’re a rookie team this year, but being a robot with a tall blocker, we named it the Iron Curtain. Kinda fits what the robot can do?

2007: GhettoBot
2008: the Beat Bot
2009: I don’t remember Lunacy
2010: the Covered Wagon
2011: Bruce
2012: the Toilet Bowl
2013: Deus Ex Machina
2014: Phoenix
2015: the Bus
2016: Horton

Robot names have been around for a while; when I look back at a lot of the heaviest CD posting years (2003-2005) I see plenty of robot names; I don’t know how much farther back they go, but I’d guess that far more than half of the robots that have competed have had names, even if only known within the team that built it. When you put six plus weeks of creative work into something, it’s human nature to name it.

Favorite names and favorite robots seem to go together. As I started a mental list of favorites, I hit a dozen before typing any. I knew I would leave too many out, so I’ll pass. In most cases, one word names are best, and most of the memorable multi-word names are puns or (usually geekish) references.

We’re only in our fifth year, but we’ve named all but one of our competition robots and all three of our prototype/practice robots.

2012 Rebound Rumble: T1G3R (All our later competition robots are *officially T1G3Ryear-2011.)
2013 Ultimate Ascent: T1G3R2 (not properly a name by Dr. Joe’s description; internally, we simply call it the frisbee launcher because all of the students that had anything to do with it but one have graduated.)
2014 Aerial Assist: Buzz (our prototype/practice robot was Woody, named after the primary material in its chassis, and Buzz was a natural for the Aluminum follow-on)
2015 Recycle Rush: Atlas (Practice was Peabody; forced names, but names nonetheless.)
2016 FIRST Stronghold: T1GGR [tee one double guh er] (It’s bottom is made out of rubber, and its top is made out of springs
, it’s bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun. The practice robot was named R00 [are double naught] after Tigger’s “little brother”.)

As you may have guessed from my commentary, my favorite names for our robots are T1GGR and Buzz, probably because they came about most naturally. Still, they’re enough to give me a Disney spell.

  • Yes, we know we swapped these around.
  1. I think every team should name their robots, but I don’t expect anyone not on the team to remember them. I can’t remember offhand other teams’ robot names apart from the most literal ones (Simbot Jordan played the basketball game). I refer to most robots as “Team No + Year.”

  2. I’m a big fan of robot names that commit to a theme that makes sense with the team name. All of 4930’s robots have been named after Muppets.

  3. I haven’t noticed a huge change from previous years.