Eurobot 2007

In 2006, the officials decided to limit the age of the participants to 25 years old. As such, I could only participate as an advisor, so I have opened a Robotic Club at the Lucian Blaga University, Faculty of Engineering, in Sibiu, where I enrolled as a first year student in Electronics. I have found 3 students that got passionate really soon and together we built and programmed a complex Lego robot for the 2007 RobotX competition. Our robot managed to do well in testing rounds but fail every time on official qualifying rounds. There were 8 teams participating that year, one of them with a Lego NXT robot, that managed to score points and qualified first. 2 other teams decided to use brute force and smashed through the pile of bottles and scored by chance. Oh well, it was a good experience for my guys and they were determined to go back next year and win first place. Which they did! In 2008, they built a robot on their own, programmed it and won first place at the national qualifications and went to the international competition in France, where they got 18th place. Next year, in 2009, they went to the national qualifications with 3 teams, won the first 2 places and one team got in the first 16 teams at the international competition in Germany. In 2010, they participated with 5 teams, won first, third and fourth places,  2 teams went to Switzerland but had trouble with the robots and didn’t make it to the first 16 teams. Anyway, I am proud to see that I seeded so much passion for robotics in Sibiu and I wish them Good Luck for next year!

The theme of the 2007 game was Recycling Garbage. The robots had to sort and place in different bins 3 types of garbage: half liter plastic bottles, aluminum cans and C size batteries. The bottles and cans were worth one point and the batteries were worth 3 points. Our robot tried to pick up and place a battery in the correct bin, then collect bottles and cans and dump them in the appropriate bins. Most of the time the battery would slip from the robot’s gripper, we managed to make only a few good trial runs…

The robot used 2 RCX controllers, one to drive the robot and the other to open/close the gripper. They were communicating using serial IR messages. The Driver RCX was getting data from a rotation sensor on the wheels and a compass sensor, to determine the direction and distance to the first battery. A dual IR sensor would help to find the objects and an ultrasonic sensor would help avoid any obstacles in the way. The second RCX was getting data from a rotation sensor to determine how much the gripper closed, to detect the size of the object. One motor was used to grab the object, a second motor to determine its size. A few touch sensors were used to detect when the gripper was closed on an object, connected on a touch sensor multiplier. A third motor would lift the gripper arm to raise the battery over the bin’s edge. We had to adjust the position of the arm before each round, and sometimes a slightly different position would make the arm not raise enough. A Spybot brick was mounted on top of the robot to determine the direction and range to the Beacon installed in the corner where the bins were located. We had lots of fun building it and especially programming it!

Me (standing) and the programmer, Tudor Orlandea, thinking how to tweak the robot to work better…

We had to make a presentation poster of the robot and the team: (we run out of color ink…)

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