After an intensive week of testing on the competition table at Middlesex University (our only time with the table) our team, “R.Me.R.T”, placed 5th overall which, although not taking us to the world finals in France, was an excellent result considering the timescale of the build. The robot passed the approval phase in time to take part in all four qualification matches.
For Match 1, we were drawn against one of the Middlesex University teams, “Jolly Todger”, however they had not passed the approvals and could not compete. We played the match on our own. Unfortunately, a misalignment caused by incorrect encoder settings meant that our robot got stuck against one of the playing pieces and did not score. As the other team had technically ‘scratched’ by not being on the table, this was still counted as a victory for us and we were awarded 10 bonus points.
The second match was against a French team, “RIR”, a 2-robot team who had entered the UK competition as a preparation for the French qualifications. This team was allowed to play on the understanding that they could not qualify for the World finals by playing over here. RIR were first to score 3 points for a gold bar first with one of their robots, while their smaller line following robot scored a further 5 points by hitting and releasing one of the ‘messages in a bottle’. We matched their gold bar and headed for the bottles (we both had similar strategies), however by this point their small robot had crossed the path of our slower (and more accurate!) robot, a very minor collision prevented us from scoring, but no penalties were given as the collision was so minor. Final scores were 18 to RIR and 5 to us, bringing our total score up to 15.
The third match was against another Middlesex team, “Ben Dover”. This was a very close and exciting match. Both teams scored a gold bar and a bottle each, gaining 8 points a piece. Then our robot carried on its way in an attempt to release the second bottle message. This part of the path script was untested, however, and a misjudgement in the required encoder counts mean that we didn’t quite make it. The game was a tie, both teams gained 13 points including bonus points, giving us a total of 28.
The fourth and final qualification match was against “R-Don”, again from Middlesex (Apologies for some of the team names!). This was also quite exciting. We got the 1 gold bar as usual, while our opponent failed in their one-shot attempted to get their closest bottle. Meanwhile, our robot headed for our bottle, and somehow went off course, spinning 90 degrees and hitting the side wall. It sat there for a while, before a newly-implemented time-out mechanism kicked in, and it went on its way. The timeout was designed so that if the robot got stuck on its way to the first bottle, it would give up and go for the next one. This also had the effect of nearly realigning us with the first bottle again. It had another go at the bottle, missing it by centimetres. Game over, and the single gold bar was enough to win, giving us another 13 points, and a final score of 41. This put us in 5th place, and through 1/4 final, the first of the knock-out rounds.
This was a bit of an anti-climax. We were up against another Middlesex robot called “Lost”. The name, however, turned out to be ironic. Beating this robot meant we would go on to the semi-final, and we were closely matched as they were scoring similar points to us in the qualification matches. Our software, so far, had functioned very reliably, in the sense that it was doing what it programmed to. It had only our lack of time for on-table calibration that had let us down. Unfortunately, this time, an apparent bug showed its face. When the start chord was pulled, the robot, instead of driving forwards out of the starting box, turned around and drove the wrong way, getting stuck on one of the walls! Our time in the competition was over, and we kept our rank of 5th place. Team Lost went on to 3rd place overall.
All things considered, we are happy with this result. This was always meant to be more of a development project, rather than building a one-shot robot designed only for one task. This year has been all about feasibility testing, and the competition has proved that we are on our way to developing a very robust software and drive platform that can be easily modified and built on for future competitions. We will be back next year, and plans for improvement are already on the drawing board.
We’d like to thank all of our sponsors for the support that we’ve received. This would not have been possible without the funding and equipment we received, and we hope that next years’ competition will really do the names justice. Videos to follow hopefully next week if I can get some from the organisers.