A new challenge for inventors was issued last year for the first ever Techno Games, a sort of 'Robot Olympics' where the competitors (all robots) take part in sprinting, jumping, swimming and running events.
The event took place in the Millennium Dome and was broadcast by the BBC. The Techno Games were so successful that the competition was run again this year, and a team of third year engineering students entered their robots for two of the events: the shot put and cycling.
Nick Bailey, pictured here with his team's entry, designed and built in four weeks, explains the challenge:
"We were just told that the robots have to race around a 50m oval track, and that the wheels have to be 'in line'. We have based our robot on a child's bicycle, but as you can see the training wheels have not yet come off. We have yet to devise a system for balancing the bike as it goes round corners. When you are riding a bike you make the balancing adjustments automatically-it is quite a difficult problem to solve that for a remote control robot."
The day before the competition, the team were on the verge of pulling out because of technical difficulties, but were persuaded by the TV company to go ahead. The result was a gold medal for the cycling event (even though the training wheels stayed on!).
As for the shot put, well last year's winner managed a record throw of some 6m. Chris Sutor and Tim Styles designed a robot that can throw the weight 20m but unfortunately the safety cage at the event prevented the optimum trajectory being reached. Techno Games is being screened nightly on BBC2 for the next two weeks.
The Techno Games Robot team consisted of:
- Nick Bailey
- Sarah Binham
- Tim Hughes
- Tim Styles
- Chris Sutor (captain)
With the help and guidance of Doug Isgrove, Peter Long and the Engineering Department Workshop.