Year 2003 Game: Robo Tow Truck
The University is in serious
financial trouble. The stock market crash plus the expensive construction
of a new house for the President, (but not for the Wiess Master) have
depleted the endowment. Once again the troubled University has turned
to its students for help. The Ass. V. P. for Finance and Student Aggravation
has significantly increased parking ticket fines for student vehicles
that are not in the correct lots on Monday morning. Your task is to
build a robot tow truck to collect the vehicles of your friends on the
opposite side of the campus, and to bring them back and place them in
your parking lot. You also have to deal with the opposing robot who
is trying to collect his set of vehicles. The robot with the most points
at the end of the game wins. Strategy, reliability, and speed are important
because your opponent can end the game early and stop your scoring.
The Winner: Polka-dot
(senior), Sean O'Brien (senior), and Dane Powell (freshman), all Mechanical
Engineering and Jones College, with their robot.
Pansy used a simple, unique strategy to win the contest undefeated.
While most robots navigated around the central wall to get to and collect
their blocks, Polka-dot Pansy just went rapidly forward to the
wall (straddling an opponent's block) and reached over the wall with
its arm to grap one of its blocks and return it to its side, scoring
1 point. Another part of its strategy was to use the green flipper to
trigger the parking lot gate rapidly three times, thus ending the game
before the opponent could score. In fact, they only used this technique
once, because just sitting over the opponents blocks effectively blocked
all opponents from scoring. No one had (or at least used) a strategy
that could deal with the blockade, such as just going for the large
The team's success
was also due in large part to the reliability of their robot. Because
of their common Mechanical Engineer major, they relied primarily on
mechanical methods for triggering and releasing the arm and the claw,
and used stored energy in rubber bands to power them. Very simple and
no programming necessary. Most importantly, they had their robot built
in near final form very early in the semester, about week 5, and then
spent the rest of the semester testing and improving the weak points.
For more details, see their final
report web pages. Here is a list of all the 2003
Year 2002 Game: More is More
The game is the inverse of
last year's game, with a twist. There are 13 balls on the table when
the game starts, but a ball dispenser will subsequently add two balls
during the game, one at 20 and one at 40 seconds into play. Your job
is to design a robot to collect and retain balls on your side of the
board. At the end of the 60 second game, the robot with the most
balls on its side wins. As always, good strategy, ball handling, tracking
your opponent, and especially reliability will be important.
The Winner: Disco
(sophomore, undeclared engineer, Wiess College), Stephanie Clark (sophomore,
art major, Baker College), and Gary Printy (senior, ELEC major, Baker
College), with their robot Disco Stu.
lost his first game, but went on to win six straight games to reach
the final round, where he won against the undefeated Rodomous Prime
(Jacob Dickerman, freshman, History, Will Rice College; Jon Noack, senior,
computer science, Jones College; Chris Wall, senior, ELEC, Hanszen College).
Disco Stu used a simple, elegant strategy. He started at an angle
and headed rapidly for the middle ball in the neutral zone, thus avoiding
collisions with its opponent and the resulting confusion. When he reached
the center black-white boundary, he turned parallel to the boundary,
away from the opponent, collected the center ball, followed the boundary
to collect a second neutral ball, and continued to the side wall. When
his bumper hit the wall, Disco Stu stopped, and triggered
the ball dispenser to get a third ball. He then turned toward his own
side and went until he hit the back wall. With three extra balls, he
would win even if the opponent got the remaining neutral ball and the
one from the ball dispenser. After hitting the end wall, Disco Stu
turned and swept up all the balls at his end, pushing them into a corner,
and just stopped, sitting on them. This made it very hard for a harvester
robot to collect any balls, and most who tried got snagged on the immobile
Disco Stu, unwittingly delivering more balls. This strategy required
only three turns, a bit of line following, and finding a wall. Disco
Stu's ability to execute it reliably was the key to his success.
Here is a list of all the 2002 players
and here are the contest brackets.
Year 2001 Game: Less is More
The game is deceptively
simple; there are 13 balls on the table, and your job is to keep them
on your opponent's side of the table. At the end of the 60 second game,
the robot with the fewest balls on its side wins. Good strategy,
tracking your opponent, ball handling, and especially reliability
are important. Details.
The Winner: PimpBot
(Extra points for coming in costume!)
Manny "Mac Daddy"
de la Mora (Junior, Anthropology), Sid "Chief Sloth Artist"
Byrd (Junior, Computer Science), and Kathryn "Kat" Dalton
(Senior, Chemistry and Spanish), with their robot PimpBot.
In a hard-fought contest,
PimpBot performed almost flawlessly. It used a simple strategy
based on power and on tracking the other robot. At the start, it quickly
ran across the center line, pushing one ball onto its opponent's side,
and running into the other robot. Using 6 drive motors on six wide wheels,
it was able to push its opponent back into the wall or a corner, confusing
it, and/or physically preventing it from executing its strategy for
scoring. The opponent could run, but it couldn't hide: PimpBot
used optical sensors to locate the opponent's IR beacon, then tracked
it down, and immobilized it. For more details, see their Final
Report web site.
PimpBot lost only
once (a false start) in 9 games to second place robot Good Lord Willing
(Jon Gillespie, freshmen, Mechanical Engineering, and Rebecca Villarreal,
freshman, Psychology), a great ball-collecting robot. Honorable mention
goes to S&M (Natalie Briaud, Brian Lin, and Tony Pule), also
a tracking robot, Augustus Gloop (Bonnie Thomas and Cara Eng),
and PacMan (Roy Ha, MIchael Haag, and Jessica Watkins). Here
is a pdf file listing all the 2001
Year 2000 Game: Robo-Pinball
Points are earned by depositing
Nerf balls in one or more goals located on the game board. Your robot
is given one ball prior to the start of the game, and may obtain others
at dispensers located on the board. The various goals have different
levels of difficulty and point value. Earn bonus points by shooting
balls through a hoop goal from the other side of the table. Details.
The Winner: Stone
Andrew Dupre, Senior,
Elec. & Computer Engr., Baker College
Sarah Ainsworth, Junior, Cognitive Sciences, Baker College
Kevin Lynch, Senior, Biology, Baker College
- Moo, Laura Derr
(3, History/Religious Studies), David Pekker (4, Math/Physics), and
Albert Sim (3, Sociology).
- Go Blue!, Scott
DiPasquale (3, ECE), Julie Rosser (2, Engineering), and Erik Welsh
View a complete list of the
2000 robots and teams, in PDF format.