As a method to promote activity and challenge our membership to build better, more intricate, and more complex robots we have implemented the Fifth Thursday Competitions. As the name implies the events take place on the fifth Thursday of the month. Since fifth Thursdays only occur  four or five times a year and generally have about 90 days between, it seemed like the best way to set these up. This gives participants approximately three months to build or modify robots to participate.

Each event will have list of generally three or four challenges ranging in complexity. In the initial competitions we are starting very simple and as the skills within the group improve we will have increasingly difficult challenges. Starting the second year we will have two tracks of challenges, beginner and intermediate. By the third we should be adding a number of categories with differing challenges, starting with simple accomplishments like line following, target location, edge detection, etc. Later we will be adding head to head type competitions like object collecting and sumo. In time we will introduce more advanced task accomplishment challenges.

For those who don’t necessarily want to compete in races or direct competition we will also be adding a judged contest where we welcome robots in different categories to be displayed. They will be judged on execution, complexity, programming, and other areas to be determined.

Like the competitions themselves, the guidelines for the participating robot will also start simple and get more complex. In time we will add more classes and sizes and each will have their own requirements.

Robot Guidelines:

  1. The robot must fit withing a 6″ x 6″ square at the beginning of the match.
  2. There is currently no weight restrictions, but this will change based on the competitions moving forward.
  3. If a dimension or weight that is normally allowed by these (vague) guidelines is deemed excessive by the judge the robot will not be allowed to compete until the issue is resolved
  4. The robot can expand once the run has begun but cannot exceed any one dimension of the table or platform.
  5. The robot must be one contiguous piece and cannot break into smaller pieces for purposes of completing the contest.
  6. Pieces can fall off due to wear and tear or accidents with no penalty as determined by the judge.
  7. No fire… I don’t know how fire would be a benefit in these contests, but somehow I felt it needed to be said.

The Competitions:

Contests for our smaller bots will generally be held on a 3′ x 4′ table with 4″ walls. The course or platform will be placed in the center of this area as needed. For instance, the micro-sumo ring will be a 24″ diameter platform placed in the center of the table. This will prevent the robots from running amok.

Contests for larger bots will be held in similar rings as determined by the nature of the contest. Some contests may be held outdoors. Perimeters will be set accordingly and most of these contests will require the operator to follow the robot to prevent it from leaving the designated area.

As we add competitions you will find the descriptions, qualifications, and guidelines here.

General Rules

These rules are applied universally to the competitions unless stated otherwise in a contest’s description

  • Rulings by the judge are final
  • Measurement will be made from the outermost edge of a goal to the closest outermost edge of the robot
  • Contestants will be allowed to make modifications to their robots until the beginning of the contest in which the robot is competing. The judge will give 5 minute and 1 minute warnings
  • If a robot is not ready at the beginning of the contest it will be disqualified from the contest
  • The judge can delay the beginning of the contest as deemed necessary
  • Unless otherwise stated, the platform surface for the contests will be unfinished MDF.

Beginner Challenges:

Table Run

The goal of this competition is to move from one end of a platform to the other as quickly as possible without falling off. This sounds simple enough but this is a major milestone in learning robots. It involves speed, edge detection, and quick response in the program.

Objective

  • Navigate from one edge of a platform to the other without falling off

Game Play

  • Each competitor is allowed 3 runs
  • A run starts when the robot leaves the starting area and ends when the robot stops within 3 inches of the platform’s edge or falls off the platform
  • The robot will be timed. Best time wins.
  • Falling off the platform forfeits that run
  • A 1 second penalty will be added to the time for each 1/4″ the front most edge of the robot is from the edge of the platform.

Course

  • Course dimensions will be posted soon, though the platform will rest within a 36″ x 48″ walled table with at least 4″ between the edge of the platform and the tables wall. The platform will be raised at least 1″ from the surface of the table
  • The starting area will be a 6″ square box placed by the judge and marked by 3/4″ black electrical tape
Line Races

This is a time trial where the competitors try to get the best time around a track designated by a line. This is another milestone for beginners where they must detect the line and the program must follow it as quickly as possible.

Objective

  • Best time around a marked course

Game Play

  • Each competitor is allowed 3 runs
  • A run begins when the robot completely crosses the starting line
  • The robot will be timed from the time the front edge crosses the starting line to the second time the front edge of the robot crosses the same line, completing 2 laps
  • Best time wins
  • Falling off the platform forfeits that run

Course

  • Course dimensions will be posted soon, though the platform will rest within a 36″ x 48″ walled table with at least 4″ between the edge of the platform and the tables wall. The platform will be raised at least 1″ from the surface of the table
  • The line will consist of straight sections and curves with no less than a 6″ arc
  • The line will be marked with 3/4″ black electrical tape
  • The starting line will be placed by the judge and will consist of 1/2″ yellow electrical tape
Find the Center

In this competition the robot must find a target on a platform and move to it as quickly as possible. In the initial versions of this competition the goal will simply be a black box in the middle of the table. The robot will start from a predetermined location unknown to the participants prior the event and it must find its way to the target and stop. This is another time trial.

Objective

  • Find the target zone in the middle of a table or platform

Game Play

  • Each competitor is allowed 3 runs
  • A run begins when the robot leaves the starting area and ends when the robot reaches the target in the center of the platform, falls off the edge of the platform, or exceeds 2 minutes
  • Best time to the center of the table wins
  • A 1 second penalty will be added to the time for each 1/4″ any edge of the robot extends beyond the target.
  • Falling off the platform or exceeding 2 minutes forfeits that run

Course

  • Course dimensions will be posted soon, though the platform will rest within a 36″ x 48″ walled table with at least 4″ between the edge of the platform and the tables wall. The platform will be raised at least 1″ from the surface of the table
  • The target area will be a 6″ square in the middle of the table and will be marked by 3/4″ black electrical tape
  • The starting area will be a 6″ square placed by the judge at the beginning of the competition and will be marked by 1/2″ yellow electrical tape