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[DPRG] November Talent Show/Contest

Subject: [DPRG] November Talent Show/Contest
From: Earl Bollinger earlwbollinger at comcast.net
Date: Fri Aug 15 06:32:01 CDT 2003

Autonomous Robot Racing (I keep wanting to type "autonomouse").
A contest that I have been conceptualizing is autonomous robot racing. 
Where we have a race course laid out using wide white lines for the
inner and outer race course boundaries (more artist's backdrop paper),
with a start and finish line; the straightaway maybe would be about
15-16 feet long. There would be curves both left and right, and maybe a
section that narrows down a bit. Throw in a generous collection of white
Styrofoam like wall barriers along the outside, makes for nifty parts
explosions when a robot goes off course and hits them.
Four to five robots would compete in a heat, maybe even double
elimination.
The first robot across the finish line wins.
When you think about it, we have action, excitement, disappointments,
crashes, spectacular saves and recoveries. It's got to be a real crowd
pleaser.
I see making the robot be no larger than 20cm x 20cm maybe, which would
make the course race track at least 32 inches wide (36 looks good then).

The amount of sophistication is up to the robot's creator.
A simple robot could simply stay within the white boundary lines, maybe
some bump sensors for crashes, a more complex one would use object
detection to avoid crashing into another robot. Heck, come to think of
it even a Lego based botcould compete (light sensors and bump sensors).
A really complex one would be able to try and figure out how to get
around a pileup blocking the way. Speed would be a really neat challenge
for everyone.
Here is an example for a robot racer and course out of Singapore:
 http://ai.com.sg/productp-rgp.htm
I've tried on several occasions to buy one of their neat micromouse
robots to no avail, so I think they only do business in Singapore or the
area around there.




-----Original Message-----
>From: dprglist-admin at dprg.org [mailto:dprglist-admin at dprg.org] On Behalf
Of W. E. Cole
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 11:58 PM
To: dprglist at dprg.org
Subject: Re: [DPRG] November Talent Show/Contest

I'm trying to conceptualize an idea as I type, so I hope this makes
sense...

Can-Can, Fire Fighter, and Sumo are all basically 'search and destroy'
types
of contests. With the exception of Quick Trip, we don't seem to have any
other type of event. One of the definitions of a robot states that it is
"any machine or mechanical device that operates automatically with
humanlike
skill". It doesn't say that these 'skills' only involve movement around
a
contest course or the ability to flip a competitor off a table. Right
now,
the sole focus of our club (most robotic clubs, in fact) seems to be
building devices that (metaphorically speaking) only search out and
destroy
targets, which in the real world use of robots is just a very small part
of
the field.

Right now the talent contest is a very raw idea to create a different
type
of event. As a club, we haven't really worked out just what this event
will
involve, what it's main focus is, or if it will be a judged event or
just a
'showcase' event (although I think everyone automatically assumes that
it
will be a judged contest because that all we've done in the past). I
think
that we've let ourselves fall into a mental rut by assuming that any
DPRG
event has to be a contest, with winners and losers, involving devices
that
move around a course and do some pre-set task. We should create the
Talent
Show event to highlight unusal designs and concepts, not try and turn it
into another opportunity to improve on a win/lose record. This can be an
opportunity for showcasing designs for a robotic hand, or a robotic head
that tracks you by sound, a robot that juggles or dances, or even one
that
tells jokes and winks at the audience. I think that we should make a
deliberate effort to break out of the 'contest' mindset and focus on
creating a showcase event.

Perhaps I'm expressing my idea poorly, so maybe this will help-
At last weekend's DPRG meeting, David Anderson brought two of his robots
to
show; his 2-wheeled Nbot and his 3-wheeled SR04. David mainly wanted to
talk
about SR04, since it had a lot more devices built into it, was able to
manipulate items, had complex problem solving abilities, and had won
many
different contests, unlike Nbot. The problem was that most people seemed
more interested in Nbot than they were in SR04. Why?? What was so
special
about Nbot? SR04 can search the a course looking for a flame, it can
pick up
a tin can and return to its exact starting spot, it can tell the
difference
between a corner and a can, heck, it can even sing! What can Nbot do? -
It
can stand in the same spot and it's most advanced feature seems to be
that
it can roll over small bumps; and yet, it seemed much more popular than
SR04.

If you stop and think about for a minute, you'll realize that although
David's SR04 seems to be the more advanced robot, it was Nbot's unique
design, it's ability to balance on just two wheels that captured
everyone's
attention. It didn't have to show it could pick up a can or push another
robot out of a ring, it just had to be different. THAT is what the
talent
contest should be about.

~Bill Cole

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