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[DPRG] Re: Contests at the Science Place

Subject: [DPRG] Re: Contests at the Science Place
From: Rodent daweasel at swbell.net
Date: Thu Feb 7 21:50:11 CST 2002

The one thing you missed about the whole faster-is-better thing is the
simplicity / engineering aspect. My little racer runs off one 9-volt
battery -- period. There is nothing on it that is not needed. It was built
to show the limitations of the Lego stuff that held the record -- and it
did. The only thing that was as fast was a huge, hacked RC car -- can you
say overkill? Not including the Stamp I had about $10 worth of materials

Keep in mind we will eventually reach the limitations of the course, but in
the process it will become harder and harder to accurately determine the
finish times.

The audience seemed to think it was really neat for us to do this. Do the
math -- 20 feet down and 20 feet back in 4 seconds is pretty impressive. If
you want one that turns around, we can do that too... and I'm willing to bet
I can make one go even faster. Maybe even CO2-powered with disc brakes.

----- Original Message -----

> Any type of timing, manual or electronic, sounds
> good to me.  Rick's timers sound very cool and also
> hi-tech and I'm sure will make a very nice addition
> to our contests.  I'm generally of the opinion that
> if a guy wants to do something, let 'em do it!   Who
> was it that wrote, "After all is said and done, more
> is said than done?"   Must have been a DPRG list
> subscriber. :)
> However ...
> I believe the QuickTrip was originally envisioned as
> a good entry level event for beginning robot builders,
> and not as a drag race.
> Extra points were awarded for robots that could turn
> around at the endpoints because that was considered more
> sophisticated behavior than just reversing the motors, and
> so was encouraged.
> Thus the points were weighted in such a way that the "smarter"
> robot got more points than the merely "faster" robot.  At one
> time, at any rate, each of the contests was considered a
> stepping stone to the next.  So the QuickTrip, down and back,
> was the simplest (some may remember the long-lost-Roger-
> Arrick's "OneBit" as the prototype).  Robots that had more
> advanced behaviors, like turning around at the endpoints,
> or demonstrating cognitive navigation, got more points.
> (First time I won QuickTrip, for example, mine was not the
> fastest time.  But I won because my bot turned around at
> the endpoints and also navigated around a cardboard box
> I gratuitously threw out in it's path to impress the judges.)
> Likewise, the TTime was the next step because it required
> the ability to handle both inside and outside corners, rather
> than just straight lines.  The Can-Can was originally just
> the TTime contest while collecting soda cans along the way.
> In each case, the "intelligence" of the robot was awarded more
> points than just raw speed.   This was thought to encourage the
> development of more general purpose robots while still allowing
> beginning builders to compete.
> For folks who are interested in robot racing, Ed Koffeman has
> some neat robot-racers he's been working on that you might want
> to talk with him about.  Perhaps the DPRG might want to sponsor
> some robotic racing contests.  But I would view it a move in the
> wrong direction to have our current contests degenerate into
> robot racing, where speed was the deciding factor in determining
> the winners.

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