September 30, 2020

KC-Line Follower

BY KALI CAUDLE

Robots were all the rage at the Cambridge campus on Dec. 9, during a Line Follower Competition. The event was held by Christopher Dobson for his introduction to robotics class.

Twelve teams competed with the students being given the semester to work on the project. They had to buy materials and design, test and build their robotic devices throughout the semester, although many students left it to the last week.

The robotic devices had to be self-powered and autonomous – no use of human control such as joy sticks. The robot’s power source had to be self-contained, carried by the robot. There was no restriction on the amount of power, weight or height.

“I think they were a little better than I thought they would be, I was a little worried about it,” Dobson said.

He hoped the students would take all the knowledge that they learned in their courses, including mechanical design and controls theory, and put it all together to create a device that would work as designed.

The winning team for the competition portion was determined by how many races they won overall. The competition consisted of a qualifying round, round robin, voting and the elimination round.
The challenge was worth 20 per cent of the student’s final grade in their robotics class.

The rectangular track had rounded corners and sat on top of a large table. For the race format, two robotic cars started an equal distance apart at the same place on opposite sides of the track, set to run counter-clockwise. When one robot caught the other, the race was over, or if a maximum time had expired, the distance between the robots was determined, and a winner declared.

Although 12 teams competed during the qualifying round only nine moved on to the round robin.

During the round robin, each robot raced other robots.

For the voting round, the students voted on a scale from one to three to determine the top three class favourite devices.

Team 7, known as Laser Beam, consisting of Dylan Wakutz, Rodney Watters and Taylor Attwood, won the racing portion of the competition.

Mitchell Wawzonek, chair of engineering technology and information technology at the Cambridge campus, said he has always enjoyed the Line Follower Competition.

When building a robotic device, there’s something next year’s students should consider.

Attwood, a second-year mechanical engineering technology – robotics and automation student, said don’t make the robot too complicated and that time management is crucial.

“The less variables the more things you can control and the easier it is to do well,” he said.

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