Robot Competition Thrills All

July 29, 2016

Robots CompeteThe 10th robot programming competition was held in room 118 of ECE on Thur., May 12 at 10 am. This event was sponsored by the Programming Fundamentals class (ECE 131), taught by Dr. Daryl Lee.

Dr. Lee had been honing his students’ analytical and C programming skills for almost five months and, on this day, he planned to test his students’ mettle in friendly rivalry.

The class was broken up into eight teams. Each team applied the programming skills they learned from Dr. Lee to make their robot complete a series of three increasingly demanding courses.

Dr Lee

The teams were required to program a two motor, three-wheeled, battery-powered robot to navigate a series of three increasingly demanding courses.  Each robot was equipped with five light sensors that detected a dark ribbon painted upon a lighter background.

The robots had to follow the dark ribbon path through a series of twists, turns, and traps to successfully complete a given course.  Each subsequent course becomes longer and more difficult.

The successful completion of the first course required an understanding of the sensors’ physical position and an interpretation of the readings that those sensors detected.

The students’ programs had to read each sensor, determine if the robot needed to continue straight or turn, and then control the drive signals to the two motors. 

The track’s dark ribbon and its light background were not consistent and changed with its position.  Each sensor’s reading could vary from the others for the same light input.  All these and more variations were taken into account to produce a winning program. 

Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Lee and his students, this year’s event was a success with every team completing at least one of the courses. Most of the teams completed two courses, and a few outstanding teams completing all three.

A convivial spirit of sportsmanship pervaded the conference room and everybody had a good time. Some team members had invited their friends and family. 

Everybody shared in the disappointment when a robot lost its way and all were delighted when a robot successfully completed its run.

(This story was written by ECE Staff Member David Modisette)