Grim Reaper is one tough robot |

Grim Reaper is one tough robot

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
NWS Robots SM 5-11-07

EDWARDS “They call him “Sensenmann” ” German for the Grim Reaper.

He certainly looks intimidating, for a robot. On the battle field of machines, this thing is like the linebacker you don’t want to mess with ” strong, fast, heavy, unflippable. He’s overloaded with power and would rather stop another robot in its tracks than score some points.

His creators ” four seniors at Vail Christian High School ” built him from scratch and took him to a state robotics competition, where they faced several teams of 60 or 70 kids sponsored by NASA and Lockheed Martin. Sensenmann didn’t win, but he defiantly made some impacts.

The Vail Christian Team, which included Jessie Cooper, Sawyer Moch, Tommy Peskorz and Bjorn Bauer, spent six weeks building Sensenmann. They began with a start-up kit, but weren’t given any instructions on how to make a moving, remote controlled robot out of the mess.

“We had to figure it all out,” Cooper said.

They put the robot to work in a game reminiscent of something from the TV show American Gladiators. In this game, the robot has to be able do two things ” pick up inflatable tubes in what looks like a hockey arena and stack them on a rack, or stop other robots from doing the same.

Their robot could do both, but the suction cup on its long, extendable arm wasn’t always reliable. So, Sensenmann was more effective as a defensive player, placing it’s hulking body in the way of other robots and stopping them from scoring.

“It’s really a beast,” Bauer said. “We gave it a lot of power, and it has such a low center of gravity.”

Never having been to a competition like this, the team was caught off guard by the varying degrees of robot loving inanity displayed by the audience. They weren’t really expecting banners and screaming grandparents.

“They were like crazy football fans for robots,” Bauer said. “It was funny to watch.”

They did receive a judges award for being such a small team, which is important considering the space program-like design teams and engineering teams they competed against.

Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or

To see videos and learn more about the ColoradoFIRST Robotics competition, visit

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