Avondale Park in Denton, TX provided an excellent venue for RoboColumbus Plus 2016 held on November 19th. The weather was a brisk clear Autumn day. Contestants and spectators all had a great time watching the robots make their attempts at the course. This year’s course was the most challenging course in RoboColumbus history.
Image of home cone showing first target cone in the distance
RoboColumbus is an outdoor robot competition that was patterned after the RoboMagellan competition run by Seattle Robotics Society. RoboColumbus was always meant to be a training ground for DPRG members to improve their outdoor rover knowledge and be simpler than RoboMagellan. It started out as a course with one cone that was positioned about 50 feet from the starting line in a clear path. Participating robots drove autonomously from the starting line to the cone. The robots received points if they touched the cone and stopped.
In 2014, the distance between the starting cone and the target cone was increased to 100 yards. The path between the starting line and the target cone continued to have no obstacles. However, the course could have high grass, holes, and other terrain irregularities. The robots could score points for: coming close to the cone and not stopping (1 pt), being close to the cone and stopping (1 pt), touching the cone and stopping (1 pt). A perfect score was 3 points.
In 2015 the name was changed to RoboColumbus Plus and the course was expanded by an extra cone that had no clear path from the first target or home cones. The distance between each of the 3 cones (target 1- clear path, target 2 – obstacles in path, and home cone – obstacles in path) was kept at 100 yards. Scoring was similar to what was done in 2014. A prefect score was 9 points. Time of run determined winners when multiple robots achieved 9 points. This new contest and scoring method has worked well for both beginning and seasoned contestants. It allows beginners to see progress, yet challenges seasoned roboticists.
This year three roboticists participated. Two robots, jBot and B.U.R.P., scored perfect scores of 9 points. The remaining robot, Rover 3, came close to all three cones to score 3 points. B.U.R.P, which participated in the 2015 RoboColumbus Plus sported major improvements this year. Besides major software enhancements, it had a completely new obstacle avoidance sensor array with motorized pitch adjustment, new encoders, new IMU, and also added a camera and GPS. The winning robot, jBot, has achieved perfect scores for 2 years running.
The robot runs can be seen on youTube at RoboColumbus Plus 2016