UOW Robotics Team Triumphs at NI-ARC 2016
UOW engineering students have demonstrated that reliability and a little bit of luck go a long way in getting over the line first.
The UOW Robotics Team beat 20+ teams from 19 universities from Australia and New Zealand in the final of the 2016 National Instruments Autonomous Robotics Competition, held on the 26th of September at the University of Technology, Sydney.
The UOW team, led by Mechatronics Engineering undergrads Shannon Wood and Jerome Clinton, built a robust robot that performed nine complete error-free runs to become the Champions.
Even though the their robot was not the fastest, it's reliability stunned all the other teams.
“The competition was intense and nerve-racking, especially the final round against University of Swinburne. So we’re incredibly proud of our achievement,” Shannon said. “We didn’t expect to win, because we knew that there were faster robots than our's in the the competition. Instead of prioritising speed, we focused on a simple and reliable approach that ended up being effective.
“Moving with moderate speed, we were able to distribute the blocks successfully at every stage of the competition without bumping any of the edges.
"Other teams opted for fast moving robots in the hopes of securing more points by completing the track within a shorter time frame. In the later rounds they pushed the speeds a little too high, causing bumps and unsuccessful block placements.
"We attribute our win firstly to finding an optimal balance between speed and stability, and secondly because we didn’t try to squeeze out as much performance as possible in the later rounds. All we had to do was wait for the other teams to make a mistake and it was all over for them.”
"Coming into the competition, we had to make a minor modification to our original design of the robot. Rufus had to be fitted with a paper guide to drop off the cubes at the right place, which became very intrumental for the win." Jerome said.
Every year the National Intruments team comes up with a new theme. This year, the competition’s sixth year, the theme was ‘The Hospital of The Future’.
The student built robots, were required to navigate through a course, delivering medicine packages to certain locations accurately and efficiently while avoiding fixed and moving obstacles, and reach its final destination with precision.
For the past six months the team worked hard and built their robot and passed a series of five milestones to make it to the final knockout rounds, with the guidance of their Academic Supervisor Mr. Nathan Larkin.
Rufus the robot - UOW robotics team's creation which won $2,500 for the team
“Some of the greatest skills we learnt from the NI-ARC is the processing of multiple kinds of data collected from sensors to provide accurate localisation of the mobile device within an environment. This required a great deal of forward thinking to account situations that may cause a problematic scenario.”
UOW Mechatronics Society's president Jerome Clinton said, "This is a big win for us, and it couldn't have been possible without the guidance of our supervisor and the lessons learnt from the previous years' performance at NI-ARC" he also went on to say "NI-ARC has been an amazing experience and a great opportunity for us to, use what we learn in our degree in something practical. The main goal of this event was not to win, but to learn from real world experiences."
"I strongly encourage engineering students to get involved in events such as these to expand your knowledge through practical experiences, to become a complete engineer."
Photos courtesy - National Instruments.