Jenna Bradwell

Robot wars put students to test

It was a computer science showdown when student-built robots battled it out last week to be the first to navigate their way through a challenging maze.

The Robot Builder’s Competition tested the skills of students studying CSCI994 (Perception and Planning), a subject within the School of Computer Science and Software Engineering (SCSSE).

CSCI944 students formed small groups and built and programmed small robots from Lego NXT kits using either or both NI Lab View and Lego NXT programming languages.

Theory and practical skills were put to the test as the robots competed against each other to explore and solve a maze constructed by lecturer Sherine Antoun within a ten-minute timeframe.

The task simulated urban search and rescues in disaster zones where no maps of navigable terrains exist and the site may be unstable and too hazardous to send rescuers in without initial exploration and assessments.

“The robots are capable of going into a mine or disaster site and determining the stability of the ground and mapping a safe path for rescuers to follow,” said Mr Antoun.

Each robot in the competition had up to three attempts within the time limit to navigate through the maze to a target zone and return. If the robot required manual assistance it was considered touched and incurred a penalty.

The winners of the challenge were Xiaobo Oian, Honghao Yu and Zive Zhang. The robot built by the team completed the task in a time of one minute and 53 seconds.

By Jenna Bradwell.


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  • CSCI944 students competed against each other to build and program robots to navigate a challenging maze.

  • CSCI944 students with lecturer Sherine Antoun.

  • The challenge was designed to replicate an urban search and rescue in a disaster zone.