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Robots invade hospital but just for one fun day

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Every day, Gators roam the halls of UF&Shands, the University of Florida Academic Health Center, in the form of fans, students, faculty and even mascot Albert the Alligator. But never had an alligator crawled through the doors at Shands Hospital for Children at the University of Florida until Friday, when pediatric patients stepped outside their hospital rooms to become judges for the first-ever Robot Day competition.

The event culminated a collaboration this summer between the children’s hospital and the UF College of Engineering, in which young patients described their ideal robot, and student engineers made those ideas a reality. After playing with the finalists, Bumper Bots, GatorBot and Basketball Shootout, the children voted for their favorite. GatorBot, designed by Barry Banks, Marino Guzman, Sierra McVeigh and Justin Wright, chomped its way to first place.

“My favorite robot was GatorBot, because it had the most efficient features and it was well put-together,” said Morgan Lopez, a 17-year-old patient from Palm Harbor, Fla. “It was pretty cool. It had a little game that went with it, which was neat.”