In today’s world, automation using robots is commonplace and is a key enabling technology of our modern manufacturing and logistics systems. These systems use a variety of product identifiers such as barcode or UPC symbols, 2D barcodes or QR codes, character recognition, and RFID chips. Our warehouse system will use colored dots to identify each different product.
The 2021 Robotics Challenge will be to automate the warehouse of a candy factory that produces three different brands of candy – Kitkat, LaffyTaffy, and Mike&Ike. The warehouse will receive product from the factory in the form of crates identified by color; red for Kitkat, blue for Laffy Taffy, green for Mike&Ike. The engineers also designed the warehouse layout, henceforth called the Mat. The robot will use the Mat to navigate, pick up and deliver the three different candy brands to the correct dock where trucks will be parked for loading.
The warehouse is also expanding, so one area is currently under construction. The robot will have to temporarily navigate around the construction zone and through an automated safety gate to deliver crates to the green loading dock.
The Challenge is to design and program an automated warehouse robot for picking up and delivering the crates to the correct dock where trucks will be parked for loading.
The robot must be programmed to continuously and autonomously pick up and deliver crates to the correct loading dock. Some human intervention will also be required as follows:
- The crates will be loaded one at a time by hand into the Supply Zone
- The robot will be manually released after delivering the Quality Control crate
- The robot will be manually released to pass through the safety gate (in one direction only)
- If a “truck full” alarm is enabled, the robot will be manually released to proceed
- Full truckloads of product will be manually emptied into the appropriate warehouse
- Note that touching the robot or objects on the course is acceptable but will result in a “touch” penalty. See additional details and clarification in General Rules below.
This will be populated with questions received by the Extension Office. The goal is that everyone will have access to the same responses.
Is the robot required to sense the color of the crate from the colored dot or can the crate selection be pre-programmed in a set order?
The robot is required to sense the color of the crate from the colored dot.
How will a run be scored if the robot crashes, loses it’s way or otherwise cannot complete a run?
If a robot crashes or cannot complete a run, any points accumulated up to the time it is stopped will be counted. This includes points for crates that were properly delivered and any additional features that were demonstrated. It does not include any points for additional features that may have been programmed, but not demonstrated during the run. Also, there will be no official time recorded for the run.
What limitations are there on the robot’s interaction with the truck?
The only restrictions on the robot-truck interaction is that the crates must go past the red line and into the truck. The truck may be pushed against the 2×4 sidewall.
What is the maximum number of crates that the robot can have possession of at any given time?
Are the points for each of the ” additional features” only awarded once per run?
Yes. Only awarded once per run.
On which side of the safety gate must the robot wait for the manual release?
The robot must be manually released using the Touch sensor on the “supply” side of the gate only. The robot may not be touched on the “return” side of the gate.
Can the built-in buttons on the EV3 be used instead of a touch sensor to manually release the robot from programmed holds?
A touch sensor must be used since that’s what is called out in the original challenge document.
If we always have a crate in the Supply Zone, how will the crate ready feature be verified by the judge? For the crate ready feature, you will be asked to demonstrate it on your first run by having an empty supply zone for just a second or two. The robot should stop and sound an alarm, then when a crate is placed in the supply zone, the robot should declare “OK” and proceed without a touch.
When a participant places a crate onto the supply zone, does that result in a touch penalty? No. Hand-loading the crate in the supply zone is not considered a touch penalty, but holding/assisting or adjusting it while the robot is picking it up would be. Participants are also allowed to remove and replace the crate. Participants are also allowed to adjust or reorient the crate if it was placed incorrectly, before the robot arrives. Touch penalties are also not incurred when manually releasing the robot after delivering the QC crate or passing through the safety gate. There is also no penalty to press the Touch sensor to release robot from a “truck full” alarm.
What are the rules regarding how a participant may place crates into the supply zone? The crates will be loaded one at a time by hand into the supply zone. Any order is allowed so long as the first crate is the QC crate. The crate may be shifted left/right as it is fully in the blue area.
Can I use a few 3-D printed parts on my robot? No. Only parts contained in one Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit plus one additional sensor may be used.
Should an internal timer pause while a robot is in a programmed hold? No, the internal time must run continuously, including any programmed pauses and stops. The choice to use an internal timer is up to you. If you use an internal timer, the robot may leave the Ready Box if 5 minutes has not elapsed, allowing the total time elapsed in the course to be more than 5 minutes. If an internal timer is not used, the run will end at 5 minutes, no matter where the robot is on the course. Any undelivered crates will not count for points.
How will the judge know which features we have in our code? If I use an internal timer, will the judges inspect my program to make sure I have one? Before each of your runs, tell the judge which features you have in your code so a note can be made on your score sheet of which ones to look for. The judge may ask to inspect your code to verify that the timer is ON at the start of the program and set correctly at the end.
Is there a size limit for the robot? There are no size restrictions on the robot. Please keep in mind that there a number of spaces along the course that are quite tight. It is to the advantage of the team to keep a compact robot.
Can the robot stack the crates in the truck? No. The crates may be only pushed into the truck and only stacked one high. It is acceptable to push the truck against the side rail.
Can the robot drive across the candy warehouse area? No. It is designed that the robot would follow the black line to and from the supply zone to the trucks. The warehouses are not be driven over.
Will the crates be weighted? No. The crates will be empty, expect the Quality Control crate which will have one small piece of candy (either LaffTaffy, KitKat or Mike and Ike.
Who will load the crates? The participants or the judges? The robots should be loading the crates. There are 1×8 legos attached to the bottom of the crates. The robot should use the forks to pick up the crates. The participants will hand-load the crates in the supply zone in any order they like.
Can you provide more information about the gates? At the state fair competition we will have an Automated Safety Gate using EV3 brick, large motor and two. The gate will be touch sensor activated. A foam board sign and artwork are taped onto the arm. The gate design and EV3 program are available. In practice, the automated gate is optional. A manually moved gate can also be used during practice.
Where can I find a full description of the competition, including score sheets? All information for the competition can be found here.
Where will the competition be held? Each county can send one junior (8-13 years old) and one senior team (14-18 years old) to the state competition to be held during the week of at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo. Contest date and location will be announced in May. Registration deadline is August 20th. Remember if your team is made up of a mixture of juniors and seniors, the team must compete at the senior level.
Where can I find the artwork for the boxes? Here.
The robot can be built using the Lego Mindstorms EV3 Core Set including the Intelligent Brick, three Servo Motors, and five sensors, plus one additional sensor. No expansion sets or multiple EV3 kits allowed. The warehouse layout (the Mat) and crate artwork are available for all participants. PDF copies are available on the website. If you would like the superintendent to ship fair-quality copies of the Mat, crates, and crate/truck artwork please email email@example.com. The Routt County Extension Office will provide all supplies, excluding the Mat for free, and provide the Mat at a fee of $85.
- Each team will have 3 scored runs.
- Each run will be 5 minutes.
- The robot may start from the Ready Box or optionally from the Start/Finish Box for extra points.
- The robot may finish anywhere on the course or in the Start/Finish box for extra points.
- If an internal timer is used, the robot may leave the Ready Box if 5 minutes has not elapsed, allowing the total time elapsed to be more than 5 minutes.
- If an internal timer is not used, the run will end at 5 minutes, no matter where the robot is on the course and any undelivered crates will not count for points.
- If the robot loses its way, crashes, or is not making progress, the competition judge may call the end of a run.
- There are no penalties for hitting any objects or the walls of the course.
- Only parts from 1 Lego EV3 kit + one additional Sensor may be used. No expansion sets or multiple EV3 kits allowed.
- Contestants may use tape, rubber bands, twist-ties, string, zip ties, etc. to restrain connection cables.
- Robots may also use a Traction Pack (weight) to improve traction if needed. Traction Packs are allowed but not required. The Traction Pack is the only non-Lego part that is allowed.
- Contestants may download programs by Bluetooth or start them from the brick button.
- Contestants must use one program for the entire course and the robot must run continuously.
- Only the Touch Sensor may be used to release the robot from programmed holds.
- Touching the robot or objects on the course is acceptable but will result in a “touch” penalty.
- “Touch” penalties (-5 points) will be incurred if the robot or an object on the course is touched or adjusted to allow the robot to complete a maneuver.
- Examples of acceptable touch penalties:
- Adjusting the robot position so that it aligns properly at the Supply Zone, Safety Gate, truck Loading Zone, etc.,
- Adjusting the robot position to correct its direction at a turn or straight section, and
- Handling a crate by adjusting its position in the Supply Zone, placement at a truck, replacing a crate that falls off the arm, etc..
- Examples of unacceptable touch penalties:
- Picking up the robot and moving it to another location,
- Touching or moving an object without attempting it first with the robot, and
- Anything the judge determines is more than a “touch”.
- Examples of acceptable touch penalties: