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An Autonomous Robot Design Challenge for the WYSE Program

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  033132,  2003 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.14069) @2003
Authors:   Alan C. Hansen, Prasanta K. Kalita
Keywords:   Robot, autonomous, design, competition, high school, Lego

The objective of this paper to present details of a LEGO Mindstorms robot design challenge arranged for high school students enrolled in the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) program. This design challenge was one part of a one-week program of activities arranged for the WYSE students to allow them to explore different engineering options. The project took place at the University of Illinois and involved three separate groups of approximately 50 students each. The students were assigned to teams of four and given specific tasks to complete during two four-hour blocks in building a robot, leading up to a competition held separately, in which their robots were required to autonomously traverse a platform containing randomly arranged obstacles. The project required students to not only construct a robot incorporating light and touch sensors for negotiating the obstacle course, but also to develop computer programs with the Robolab software to control the response of the robot based on the signals from the sensors. Fairly limited guidance was provided initially to allow students to be creative and to solve problems similar to what an engineer would be faced with in a real life situation. A points system was formulated in which points were awarded to each team on completion of specified tasks. Points for the final competition were based on the amount of time it took for the robot to traverse the platform that included the obstacles. Results of student surveys conducted after the competition indicated that the robot design challenge was rated very highly by three quarters of the students. More guidance on the Robolab software and on basic vehicle design at the beginning of the project will help to improve the quality of the robots.

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