Sticky Notes

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Winning Robot Criteria

Just three simple criteria.

1) Stability
- Well, this is the first and most important criteria for a robot.At the beginning, most robot would fail to comply to the stability criterion.
- Usually the culprit is poor sensors, poor actuators and poor algorithms.
- This year's game need a lot of line following and for your information, line following seems to be an easy task, but it is not. It is actually a type of non-linear model where non-linear control is needed. But with proper tuning, it is not impossible.
- For a line following sensors, one of the mistake is to use an operational amplifier as comparator and get the digital value. One of a simple solution is to get an Auto Calibrating Line Sensor from Cytron. But seems Cytron admin does not recommend it for use in ROBOCON due to sensitivity to spot light. It is not easy to design a proper line following sensors. Even industrial grade sensors could not cope with different colour floor
- Another criterion that affects stability is algorithm. It is not easy to create a proper algorithm. Even professionals might make mistakes. Check out this example of computer bug.
2) Reliability
- After stability is tackled, secondly, reliability is the important issue.
- Did you know, in a game in Malaysia ROBOCON 2009, UTMA lost to MMU Cyberjaya due to reliability. An error with the robot occurred making the operator asked for a retry. This gave a big chance for the opponent team to win.
- To tackle this, usually more sensors and more fail safe algorithm is needed.
- For example, instead of one limit switch to detect an object, use two.
- Algorithm need not to be too complex. A simple logic AND (&&) is enough to make sure the robot is fail safe. Which means if both limit switches are clicked, then only the object is really within reach.
3) Speed
-In my opinion, currently, no Malaysian team is ready for the speedster of ABU ROBOCON, any team from China or Vietnam.China complete ABU ROBOCON 2009 in 17 seconds where the fastest record in Malaysia is around 50 seconds. China also complete Mankaura in ABU ROBOCON 2010 within 4 seconds, where the record in Malaysia level is about 10 seconds.
- For a robot to be speedy, they have to sacrifice some stability and reliability.
- To have all three criteria, it takes complex control algorithm, high grade sensors, and good quality actuators. For example, UESCT, champion of ABU ROBOCON 2010 used a high precision motor by MaxonMotor. A set of motor with encoder is not cheap.
- Besides, it takes hard work, perseverance and consistency to win.

Good luck to all for the Malaysia Games.

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