Robots Competed in Soccer Tournament

Scraps of wood, plastic, two lawnmower wheels, some screws, a bucket, and a couple of coat hangers—that’s what Ian Mills’s team used to construct their “Mighty Micro” for this year’s engineering competition.

Group leader, Ian Mills, along with his team, spent a total of 36 man-hours planning and building their robot to compete in the first ever on-campus robot soccer match.

“The idea for this design came from tennis and golf ball collectors with some elements from vacuum cleaners,” said Mills, a senior in the electrical engineering concentration. “The collection arms gathered and guided the balls into the center of the machine. After the balls reached the center, the rotor then pushed the balls up the ramp and into the basket. When the basket is full, the robot is backed towards the goal, emptying the balls into the goal.”

While past competitions have included emergency response drones, solar remote-control cars, all-terrain remote-control vehicles, ice hockey robots, and submarines, this year the engineering department took a different approach.

Mechanical engineering concentration graduate Matthew Alger was in charge of designing the competition and rules. “This year’s competition adapted aspects of previous events as well as taking inspiration from FIRST Robotics-style competitions. We put more emphasis on conceptual design, brainstorming, and proper drawing and record keeping. The teams responded well to that, which was demonstrated both by the quality of their designs and by their ability to adapt and repair quickly in the event,” he said.

On the day of competition, an expectant crowd gathered at the Sports Center to watch the four entering teams compete. After the starting signal, one team’s robot zipped out onto the soccer field, scattering balls in all directions. However, due to a malfunction the robot could not finish the match. Mighty Micro came behind and calmly swept the balls inside its basket, safely depositing them into the opposing team’s goal. Mighty Micro won not only the crowd’s admiration but also the tournament as it ruled the court each game.

“It was one of the best entries I've seen since I've been here,” Alger said.

Published 5/4/2015