It may not be a robotic Thunderdome, but teams will compete for $50k in prizes.

The name RoboBowl conjures images of pitched battle between metal men like what’s dramatized in the upcoming Wolverine, err, Hugh Jackman movie Real Steel. But unlike the robotic boxing in that film, Carnegie Mellon’s first RoboBowl will feature teams competing to solve robotic challenges that are actually needed in today’s marketplace. Most of the fields that will be addressed in the first RoboBowl are medical in nature, such as robots that can assist in surgery, prosthetics and wellness assistance. The pilot RoboBowl is set to go down in Pittsburgh, PA on October 13, 2011.

“Answers to the most critical challenges facing the U.S. today … will come from the creativity, dedication, and passion of entrepreneurs and inventors who utilize next-generation robotics technology to innovate breakthrough solutions,” said Helen Greiner, head of the Robotics Technology Consortium.

The RoboBowl is meant to bridge the gap between blue-sky robotics work like the many Kinect hacks we’ve seen come out of universities and applications that the private sector can actually sell as more than a novelty. “While significant progress has been and continues to be made in the research and development of next-generation robotics technologies, commercialization efforts are still relatively nascent,” said Jared L. Cohon from Carnegie Mellon University.

There’s no limit to the amount of teams that can enter the competition, but if you’re interested then you need to register by September 12th – and submit $100 – to enter. Judges will select five finalist teams, each of which will receive $5,000 and much needed business planning advice on how to monetize their robots. The Grand Prize winner will receive a cool $20,000.

While I think that competitions like RoboBowl are a healthy way to stimulate innovation – look at the X prize for how successful cash prizes can be – I still wish that the robots were pit against each other like in RoboGames.

Source: Carnegie Mellon

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