Pi Wars blog post 1

1st Nov 2015

Right, first things first: we want to win Pi Wars. We’ve got a reputation to maintain (cough *interhack space robot wars champions* cough). Ok, in reality we saw how much fun the event was last year and thought we should get involved. But whilst we’re at it, we may as well do as well as we can. So this first post is our first look at the different challenges and how the scoring is calculated, so we know what we need to do, where to concentrate and what sort of compromises we might need to make on the robot design.

The challenges:

  • Skittles (maximum 180 points, new event)

This is a classic game of skittles with the robot launching the ball. An additional ‘ball firing device’ is allowed, so it looks like it’ll need consistency in speed and aim. Sensors may need to detect the ball and the pins but there are no bonus points for doing it autonomously. It also looks like there might be a fair bit of luck involved in the event that can potentially provide the most points hmm….



  • Obstacle course: (maximum 105 points, (assuming 6 obstacles as last time)

Last year this involved driving around a serpentine course with various obstacles, mostly with rough or angled surfaces but this year will be an all new course. We assume it will still require manouverability, traction, ground clearance, speed and control. Sensors probably won’t help (gyro for handling?) as its an RC event.


(image courtesy of ChrisHannam.co.uk)


  •  Straight line speed (maximum 105 points, returning event)

A simple 24foot dash from a standing start, with extra points for autonomously avoiding the two side walls. Speed and control required, with sensor(s) to detect the wall and possibly wheel speed/position.


  • Pi Noon: (maximum 55 points, assuming 3 rounds, new event)

This is a new event, all we know is that we need the robot to be able to support a 3mm rod on the front or back. We assume it will be some sort of duel that requires speed and manouverability. It’ll be under RC control, so we better practice our driving.


  • Three point turn: (maximum 70 points, returning event)

This event involves driving a precise pattern and returning back to the starting point. Speed helps but its mainly about control as there are bonus points for finishing in the starting box. We’ll definitely need sensors that can detect the key marker lines and or/wheel position, robot orientation and position.


  • Line follower: (maximum 65 points, returning event)

This is a classic robot challenge, who can follow a black line the fastest around a course. Like the straight line speed test, this will be about speed and control, with the sensors needing to reliably detect the line and having a good algorithm for maintaining speed and the correct heading.


  • Proximity alert: (maximum 55 points, returning event)

This returning event is quite unusual for a robots competition, its which robot can stop closest to a wall. This is about having very fine control of the robot and a precise sensor.


  • Aesthetics: (maximum 40 points, returning challenge)
  • Build Quality: (maximum 40 points, returning challenge)
  • Blogging: (maximum 40 points, returning challenge)
  • Code quality: (maximum 30 points, returning challenge)


So in summary, we need a drive train that’s fast and controllable and can take us over and around obstacles, we’ll need sensors to detect lines, walls and possibly orientation, and some way of firing a ball accurately at some skittles.


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