“People are fascinated by robots because they’re machines that can mimic life.” Just as we all are fascinated by robots and how they work there are people who are experts in this field. ‘XbotiX-2016’ was a robotic competition organized by Electrical and Information Engineering Society (EIES) in collaboration with IEEE Student Branch, IET Ruhuna Chapter and Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Student Society (MMESS) university of Ruhuna. It was held at the premises of Faculty of Engineering, University of Ruhuna, Hapugala, Galle on 19th of October 2016.
Both undergraduates and school level students competed in this competition under separate categories. This was an event in which the best young minds worked together in teams in designing, building and programming a robot. Teams were challenged to design, build and program a robot to perform a specific task under competition rules and time limits.
The team representing the University of Colombo comprised of Sandaruwan Medamulla, Kusal Kudaligama, Udula Lakshitha, Kasun Perera and Chamara Madusanka all being first year undergraduates of the Faculty of Science.
The contest consisted of two rounds with three areas in each round. The task procedure was as follows in brief.
The team was to decide the direction of the movement of the robot once it was placed in the starting square. After commencing the attempt, the robot was expected to go through area 1 and exit using the line that connected area 1 and area 2. Relevant color card provided must be identified by the robot and used in area 3.
The robot was supposed to detect the entrance to area 2 and proceed forward on two elevated pathways with ascents and descents. Finally, the robot was expected to exit from area 2 through the final slop.
This area consisted of a loading and an unloading bay. The robot loaded the payload with the color detected at the beginning of the attempt and unloaded at the unloading bay to finish the task.
In round two, the robot was expected to move in a similar manner as round one but except in area 3. In area 3 there were four payloads out of which two were of similar colors. The robot was expected to load the two similar colors and unload it at the unloading bay to finish the task.
Thirty teams competed for the contest this year. Participants competing with much intensity had only one goal; to get selected for the second round. The robot to complete the first game task within the least time period, with the shortest pathway to reach the exit, more efficiently was selected to round two. The team which represented the University of Colombo passed on to round two and in the final round was awarded as second runner up in the entire competition. University of Moratuwa was awarded as the first runner up and Ceylon German Technical Training Institute became the winners.
Our champions had many memories and incidents to share with us during this entire course but when asked for the most memorable incident…
“On the day of the competition in the morning with just few hours left for the competition the power unit of our robot burnt. None of the team members gave up at that point but worked really hard to fix the robot. It was replaced with a bouth but the bouth also got burnt. After it was repaired the servo motor burnt once the power unit was switched on. The servo motor was replaced with an old motor. With all these obstacles, we had no time to test run the robot. We wrote the program to run the robot on our way to the competition in the vehicle. None of the members gave up but worked with much enthusiasm, determination and due to the endless team effort of the five members throughout the competition the robot was fixed to compete in the contest and won as second runner up. It was a huge challenge for us as we had never faced such situations before. The guidance and support we received from a lot of people, our team effort and hard work payed off !”
When asked from the team leader, Sandaruwan Medamulla what he had to say about his experience,
“I am much grateful for being the team leader of a team with this much determination and dedication. They supported me throughout the competition. When the power unit of our robot got burnt, nobody backed out but silently contributed to make the robot function again. We used two sensors in the robot to detect the pathway whereas others in the competition used only one sensor. Our robot had the best technology among all the other robots which moved quickly and smoothly throughout the competition. I am very grateful to all my team members and without them we wouldn’t have been able to make this far in the competition.”
The members would like to thank Thilina aiya who is a third year undergraduate pursuing a special degree in the Physics department for helping them throughout the competition with much guidance and advice; Lecturers and demonstrators in the Physics department of faculty of science, senior students, members of the Robotics club of faculty of science and batch-mates for all the support given to them.
When asked why they have an interest in this field and who or what had helped them design the robot, “We did a lot of self-studying about designing robots. We all had been interested in this field from our school days. Our interest had helped us to work together in designing a high technology robot in an all Island competition like this. Thilina aiya had also helped us a lot during this competition.”
The team expressed that more individuals with such interest must be brought forward. More workshops on robotics must be organized by the faculty, the robotics club must organize more events to encourage more people to participate in such competitions, there is no proper place in the faculty to design robots and are kindly requesting to give a place in the faculty which is not used for conducting lectures.
They are planning to do lot more for the faculty and University by continuing these works and participating in more competitions in the future.
We, FOS Media crew would like to congratulate all the team members for their timeless effort and on their victory. All the very best for your future and keep making us all proud!
image credits: REF Media, University of Ruhuna