There's a high probability you missed a really cool event happening in downtown Rockford this weekend. Had it not been for the music thumping and the crowd's cheering I would have missed it too. Thankfully, curiosity got the best of me.

Sunday afternoon, much like the entire weekend, was exceptionally beautiful in downtown Rockford. It was much needed for an outdoor tournament help at Rockford City Market's pavilion along Water Street. Why? Because there were so impressive robots twisting and turning inside a very unique "arena."

Credit: Townsquare Media

The Rock River Robotics Off-Season Competition (R2OC) event was unlike anything I've ever seen. I wasn't alone in this, other passersby stopped to watch the excitement as well.

Credit: Townsquare Media


I asked myself and the person I was with the same question, which followed with, "We've got to watch this."

Here's what R2OC is all about.

R2OC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit partnership of Rock River Valley US First Robotics Teams. Our goal is to provide an off-season event where FIRST Robotics teams can participate in a competition, show off their 'bots to the community, and meet others who share their robotics enthusiasm.

This was like monster trucks, wrestling, and American Gladiators all smashed into one. There were music, lights, tournament officials, and multiple teams from four different states, including here in Rockford.

I only caught the tournament's championship match but here's what I gather based on what I saw.

  • The objective is for the robots, operated by members of the team, to launch as many yellow dodge ball-like balls into a goal of sorts.
  • Other team members were in charge of "reloading" the balls after they made the goal.
Credit: Townsquare Media
  • After the teams scored whatever the number of goals required, the robots had to "grab" a designated bar and lift themselves off of the ground.
Credit: Townsquare Media

Don't quote me on the exact rules and strategy because I got there at the tail end of the tournament.

You can see the action in the video below and learn more about R2OC here.

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