Thursday, July 1, 2010

Build on the Spot Robotic Challenge at Brickworld

Thursday was the day that the Build on the Spot (BOTS) challenge happened.

This was a competition that was open for MINDSTORMS builders and had the following rules:

Entrants brought in their own parts and NXT components and came in with no completed models. All models were to be built in the span of approximately 5 hours.

Robots had to be able to move blocks of two different sizes from their edge zones on the tables to the middle zones adjacent to them. Points were awarded to blocks in the scoring zone, and if stacked, more points could be gathered. A few of the smaller blocks also were multipliers if stacked. All of this was done in a timeframe of 2 minutes.

After the rules were explained and clarified, the room suddenly became full of activity, as you can see below:

There were more than ten teams, and all of them had different approaches to solving this challenge. Some focused on getting as many blocks to the scoring zone. Others believed that a stackerbot would be able to get the points for a win. Regardless, it would take some time to build.

From there, it became a matter of practice and testing, as seen below.

Stacking proved to be difficult, as a first block had to be placed to stack on. From there, others were placed on top. The general strategy for the stackers were to only drive forward to place, then reverse to get another block. The teams could not bring a stack of blocks and place them in the score zone...they had to be done one by one.

A much easier strategy was to just have the bot push the blocks to the score zone, making the score based on quantity of blocks, as opposed to having a stack.

These strategies had to be determined and bots built within the few hours of the construction phase. That night, the competitions were done at another table in another room...

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