FIRST Robotics teams to open Macy’s Thanksgiving parade

Before Snoopy, SpongeBob, and, of course, Santa ride down 6th Avenue in New York as part of the the 87th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, some budding roboticists and their creations will actually kick things off.

That’s because this year, teams from the FIRST Robotics Competition have the honor of leading the parade to its final destination at Macy’s Herald Square. Robots originally designed for this year’s FRC “Ultimate Ascent” challenge will travel the parade’s entire 2.5 mile length, controlled by the students who built them. The robots feature some modifications specifically for the festivities: One will cut the ribbon to signal the official start of the parade and others will shoot confetti as they pass parade-watchers.

Organizers say the parade is viewed by 3.5 million people in New York and 50 million people at home, which will provide great exposure for FIRST — not that it needs much publicity. FIRST projects that 2,850 teams and 71,250 high school students will participate in the 2014 FIRST Robotics Competition.

The teams leading the parade are:

  • Team 1538, The Holy Cows, from San Diego, Calif.
  • Team 1477, Texas Torque, from The Woodlands, Texas
  • Team 180, S.P.A.M., from Stuart, Fla.
  • Team 16, The Bomb Squad, from Mountain Home, Ark.
  • Team 25, Raider Robotix, from North Brunswick, N.J.

Southwest Airlines picked up the tab for the students and their mentors to fly to the event, and their robots will also get a free ride thanks to FedEx.

As usual, the parade will air live from New York on Thanksgiving Day beginning at 9 a.m. (EST) on NBC.

[ image courtesy of Macy’s Inc. ]

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