The project first began by building a racer that was intended to compete with another group's robot in a jousting tournament. However, our worthy adversary determined that time constraints forced them to withdraw. Now, we had to find an autonomous response for our racer to exhibit since we are unable to you the robot for its original intent.
There are many biological responses that animals execute. For example, newborn chicks will follow the first object that they see that moves and makes noise.
Mother geese will automatically scoop up any object that is near their nest and put the round object under them into the nest. This behavior is observed even if the object is not an egg; furthermore, the scooping action will continue even after the object is removed if the scooping action has begun.
Perhaps one of the most fundamental responses of an animal is the "flight or fight" response. When an animal feels trapped or threatened, they have two options: run away from the danger, or attack the offending object. Our project was to build a robot that implemented this response. A racer was first constructed. It has rear-wheel drive, rack and pinion steering, three IR sensors (two of which are used and a third to make another headlight), and flames and sidepipes on the side as a final touch. The two IR sensors are placed on the body of the racer, one facing the front and one facing back. We used the Lego programmable RCX (the Lego Mindstorms) to hold the responses for the racer. The basic algorithm of the racer is as follows: 1. Move about the room 2. Constantly poll both IR sensors 3. If one sensor registers an IR source, the robot will run away from the source (i.e. if the front IR sensor triggers, the robot will reverse, if the back IR sensor is triggered the robot will move forward) 4. If both sensors register an IR source, the robot will attack one of the sources. Step 3 shows the flight response. Since the robot is not completely trapped in this situation, it will run from the source. However in step 4, the robot is not given the option to escape so it attacks the source.
Following are pictures of our racer robot.
Notice the nice cactus racin fire and the exhaust pips of the growling V-6
The front view, sans one headlight/ir sensor.
The roll cage even works (kinda)
A picture of our modified canabalized rack and pinion steering. Thanks to Peter for the original.
This picture also gives a good view of the ramming spikes that it can fight with.