Blimps set to battle at EagleBank Arena


George Mason University is hosting a competition of lighter than air (LTA) robotic agents—“blimps,” colloquially—squaring off in the heights of EagleBank Arena on Friday, April 28, from noon to 2 p.m. 

The “Defend the Republic” competition features teams from six universities competing in a series of events where aerial robots attempt to move balls through hoops suspended from the ceiling, while other robots try to thwart them. The purpose of the game and the research behind it is to develop the ability of LTAs to respond quickly in various situations where such a vehicle, with its ability to stay aloft for much longer than traditional aerial devices, is ideal – disaster recovery, reconnaissance, delivering aid, and more. 

At the Friday session, as many as 50 robots will be simultaneously in the air, with students and faculty available to answer questions about their robots and research.

Faculty members Cameron Nowzari, Ningshi Yao, and Daigo Shishika serve as principal investigators and lead the group.