THE ROBOT CHALLENGE

 

Bwere, Daniel E.

The week started with a hectic challenge of designing sumo robots to contest in the sumo robot challenge. The sumo robot had to be a three-wheeler: a single all-round wheel and two servo-driven wheels.  A lot had to be done which would help practise the skills gained on 3D printing, laser cutting and Arduino. My idea was to play both defense and offense. In offense, the robot would have a kicker, and in defense, the robot would be able to run if an opponent would come closer to a defined no-man’s land.

 

I began by designing the inner flat chassis on which the components were to be fixed. This wasn’t difficult since it was just an inner board. A 6mm acrylic board was used in order to increase the effective down-weight of the car. A mass would later be added that would sustain the car’s centre of mass.

 

After designing and laying some components on the board, I began coding the Arduino instructions for the car. It was so easy at first, but then it’s execution wasn’t that smooth. The sumo-robot was to be controlled by the sensor readings of two sensors: infrared sensors to avoid the robot from going outside the sumo ring and ultrasonic sensors to measure the distance between opponent robots. The working of these sensors wasn’t as easy as I’d expect them to work. One night before the presentation on Thursday, the sumo robot did well, but on the morning of the presentation, all hell went loose. None of the executions worked.

 

I didn’t get to finish designing the car’s outback due to the intensive and non-productive troubleshooting of the code for the robot. That morning, the name of my sumo robot was asked for and I was under tension that my robot wasn’t going to work, so I told the technician to wait since I didn’t have a name at that moment. That way, Julia decided to baptize my robot’s name to “Ya Dunno”. 

 

The competitions started and several robots were very interesting in both design and operating concepts. Their execution was smooth and very straightforward, unlike mine which I was very unsure of what it might be doing when it got into the sumo ring. My turns came to play. My robot worked in defense only, just rotating on a single fixed position without moving anywhere. Surprisingly, it never got beaten in any round, till the finale where I played against the “Mustang” robot: a beautifully designed robot. 

On the left, “Mega360” and on the far-right “Mustang”

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