Hello there! We still don’t know whether androids dream of electric sheep, but here at Broscorp, we just can’t live a single day without the robotization of everything around us. At Broscorp, we are daily bringing the future closer. Despite all the fears of Elon Musk, we want the era of robots to arrive as soon as possible. Therefore, already within a year, we participated in Robo competitions in the Dnipro. We do not have enough strong rivals, and our desire for robotization is unstoppable, that’s why with this article, we want to hook you on this robot addiction.
You may have heard of DARPA’s robot competitions. Teams of professionals build robots for a lot of money. They should be able to drive a car, find a way through buildings, and handle construction tools. Not everyone succeeds:
However, there is a place for amateurs too in this world, for whom it is just a hobby. In this article, I want to tell what a single fan can do for robot glory. Here are some examples of disciplines in which amateurs compete.
Line Follower Robot
A line of contrasting colour (usually black on white) is drawn on the floor. The autonomous robot has to drive a circle along it in a minimum amount of time. The basic design consists of two motors with drivers, a controller, and an array of optical sensors. Here is an example of a hurricane robot from Iran:
Two robots, limited in weight and size, shove about in a ring. The edge of the ring is indicated by a colour. The simplest design looks the same as for the Line Follower, but we add an ultrasonic or infrared distance sensor so that the robot can detect an opponent. There are a lot of videos on the Internet, here’s an example from the Japanese:
Labyrinth or Micromouse
I think there is no need to explain the rules here. The first such competitions took place in the seventies. Perhaps this kind of robot requires the most complex firmware and a set of sensors:
The easiest way is to buy a ready robot. It’s not even necessary to order it from pololu.com. It can be found in Ukrainian stores. Accordingly, you can buy a place in the leaders, but a specialist home-made robot will get around you in all competitions. And you won’t get the joys of creation of course!
The more complicated option is to buy parts in stores for Arduino lovers and assemble the robot yourself. The minimum set is motors, wheels, driver, controller. When it comes to reducing costs for our customers, we usually try to find ready-made solutions so as not to reinvent the wheel from scratch, but we are big fans of DIY, so we decided to make the robot ourselves. We were going to take part in the Robo Sumo and Line Follower Robot competitions. For Robo Sumo, you need a little sturdy, all in armour, and with the greatest possible weight. And for Line Follower, you need a quick, easy and manoeuvrable one. And yes, we did not find a way to combine these qualities in one, so we made two robots =)
Our Sumo fighter had a few highlights, such as:
Hard steel case
Chassis printed on a 3D printer
Unique wheels with fantastic grip.
The electronics that drove this ‘Frankenstein’ 🙂
The result was such a handsome man:
For the line follower, we decided to use a long ‘nose’ circuit and an array of sensors to track the line. This is quite a common scheme – for example, here is an article about it.
So we performed in competitions and showed our magic:
The results of our efforts were the second place in the Robo Kegelring discipline at Interpipe TechFest, as well as first place in the Robo Sumo and the track record in the Line Race at BestRoboFest! Hooray!
What is really important is that this project is not much different from our usual ones. Functional and non-functional requirements were described, the architecture was developed, tasks were planned. And voila! Here are our monsters in steel and plastic! This story once again showed us how here at Broscorp we love non-trivial tasks. So join in and we will automate together 🙂