Winning doesn’t matter – But, the students learn to manage their complex projects with the 2.007 robotics competition

2014’s arena for the annual robotics competition was based on a Winter Olympics theme. The theme consists of extremely steep slopes. Here, the students have to get their miniature robots to ascend this slope. Then, the robots must descend without being flipped over.

2.007 robotics competition
The challenges became more tougher and tougher leading to a wide range of designs and strategies and later even to accessories with an elevator and a T-bar ski lift. However, at the end, a robot with reliable performance won the trophy equivalent to an Olympic gold. This trophy has become a legendary at MIT.

Well, now I know what you are thinking! “Who built that robot?” right? It was Clare Zhang, a junior who is majoring in mechanical engineering. She used great skills while building that robot to ascend and descend as many times as possible. The other robots in the competition either got immobilized or suffered mechanical or electronic failures.

2.007 robotics competition
In the finals, she competed with Joshua Born who had built a two robot combo. Even though one of Born’s robots flipped over, it was able stand back. But, the other one got stuck in the trees. In the end, Zhang won, 312 to 244.

However winning or losing doesn’t matter. All the top four finishers receive trophies, you see. The instructors, Sangbae Kim and Amos Winter explained that the main aim was for students to learn the fundamentals of managing a complex project from end to end.

At the start of the one semester class, all the students are given identical kits consisting of motors, fasteners, pulleys, sheets and bars of plastic and metal. Through the course of the semester, students are taught how to draw the designs, use water jets and lathes to shape the parts, program the onboard electronic controllers and remote control systems and improve their evolving designs by testing them again and again. But, only the materials that are provided in the kit are to be used and what the student has built should fit within in a 16-by-16 inch square on the playing field at the start of every round.

2.007 robotics competition
Also, not all the students in the class are nominated to participate in the competition. There is another option which enables the students to build a one person electric vehicle. And, those students had to compete too.

Over the last few years, the 2.007 robotics competition has evolved in complexity. And, it has also frequently been the topics of news stories.

Meet the students and robots of this year’s 2.007 robotics competition. (Click on Playlist to see more competitors.

Via : MIT