Roborama 2008b


The Dallas Personal Robotics Group held their semi-annual Roborama contest on Saturday November 22nd in Garland, TX. The DPRG had a table at the recent Austin Makers Faire. Each spring and fall, they hold the Roborama contests for autonomous robots. The spring event has contests for outdoor self-navigating robots. The 2008b contests were designed to test the abilities of indoor robots. Normally held at the Science Place, this year they elected to have the contests at the DPRG warehouse in Garland.

There were a wide variety of robots represented: lots of built-from-scratch projects, some lego-bots, and a few off-the-shelf models. Computing power ranged from nothing up to an on-board PC with WiFi. The Polulu 3pi‘s were heavily represented. The builders themselves were anything from high school students to veteran club members.


Winners had their choice of prizes in order of placement in each contest (first place got to pick first, etc). Prizes included a STM32circle, a pair of servos, or gift certificates to a local electronics store. Other entrants got a mini-cylon LED display to make their robot a little more menacing. You can view full results here.

The simplest event was the Quick-trip contest. This competition had the robots move from the starting area straight to a second area, and back again. The area is enclosed by walls and marked off with black tape, and the robot must completely cross the tape to be considered in an area. While it sounds very simple, not all robots were able to complete the course. The winners were determined by who successfully finished the course in the least time. This years winner of the Quick-trip contest was a lego-bot named Gort built by student Nathan Harlan.

The second event is a little more complex, called T-Time. This one has three areas, and tests the accuracy of turning. There are 3 areas, the robot starts in one, must visit the other two and return to the start area.  The course is a ‘T’ shape, so the robot must make a couple of turns. It was won by David Martineau with BoxyRoxy Mk IV.


The third event was a line-following competition. Robots must follow a white stripe on black background, with lots of sharp curves.  The course itself was only about a yard square, so smaller bots fit more easily. This year the line following was all about the Polulu 3pi’s. At least 4 entered, and all of them used the unmodified hardware: the only difference was the programming. One contestant used a genetic algorithm to evolve a neural-net. Another contestant programmed his on the day of the contest. The winner was PI R Squared, owned by Steve Rainwater.

The next Roborama will be sometime in the spring of 2009. DPRG holds montly club meetings. They also have the Robot Builders Night Out, which is a chance for roboticists to meet at the Garland warehouse and work on thier robots. It is open to anyone, not just club members.

4 thoughts on “Roborama 2008b

  1. I remember when me and my friend built our first line-followers :)
    Our university holds our own autonomous robot competition this Friday. It’s called Robotex 2008 and has a bit more complicated tasks than the Roborama. Only problem for most (or all) of you here, is that it’s in Estonia :) For those of you, who are interested, which sort of tasks there are, you can find more information (in English) here:

  2. The variety of robots was amazing. The sheer inventiveness of a wall-tracking robot with no brain – only springs & levers for guidance. For me, the most spectacular was not an automomous robot, but an R/C hexapod, beautifully polished in black & silver, and able to move from standing on its tippy toes to lying on its belly with its legs above it, and using inverse kinematics (apparently) to bring its body to all sorts of angles while all its legs stayed on the ground. Nice!

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