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News Thursday, April 26, 2001
Salem robot wins TV contest

JAY REITER / Statesman Journal


Aaron Joerger (center, white shirt) and his father Mark are joined by some of Aaron’s fourth-grade classmates from Candalaria School (from left) Rocky Williams, Andrew Duggan, Sara Johnston and Megan Johnston while watching the Joergers' entry in "Robotica" on TV at Mimi’s Golf Garden and Pizzeria.
Mark Joerger and his son defeat a Corvallis team and others on "Robotica."

Statesman Journal
April 26

Salem’s own “Run Amok,” a gutty underdog, shocked the robot world Wednesday night with a stunning upset in the championship final of Robotica on The Learning Channel.

A crowd of about 100 fans at Mimi’s Golf Garden and Pizzeria erupted in cheers as the 161-pound four-wheeled metal gladiator knocked “Ram Force” off a raised platform to win the “Fight to the Finish” and claim the Robotica crown.

Run Amok, a wedge-shaped, remote controlled vehicle, was built by Salem’s Mark Joerger and his 10-year-old son, Aaron. The show was taped last month in Los Angeles.

Joerger was eager to see the final on television. “I was so busy driving the robot, I’m not really sure what happened.”

Joerger won $12,000 and a trophy. Made from lawn mower spare parts, the robot cost about $3,000 to build.

One of three robot shows currently popular on cable television, Robotica challenges the machines to navigate a speedway, an obstacle course and a “robot a robot” face-off.

Early on in Fight to the Finish, Run Amok and JuggerBot, made by Mike Morrow of Corvallis, ganged up on Ram Force.

“Everybody hated Ram Force,” Morrow said. “Those guys were jerks.

Morrow, fans and friends of JuggerBot were also on hand at Mimi’s. JuggerBot now heads to a BattleBot competition in San Francisco next month.

Joerger said it’s hard to see the season end. “I felt a little down today,” he said. “I’ve had this to look forward to, but now it’s coming to a close.”

Producers asked the contestants not to reveal the outcome. Joerger said that wasn’t tough. “Telling the outcome doesn’t tell the whole story,” he said. “It’s like describing the Wizard of Oz in one sentence.”

A win in the speedway portion and a loss in the maze, then a gutty win in the gauntlet earned Run Amok a spot in the night’s final showdown.

Dan de Carbonel can be reached at (503) 399-6714.

To learn more

Robot Information Central has answers to frequently asked questions about robots, information on how to build them and links to robot competitions.

The Tech breaks down robotics into five main parts and explains the degrees of motion.

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