Students tool-up for robot wars tourney

Shaun Soutar from Forfar and Danielle Bradley from Kirriemuir prepare for robot wars at D&A College.
Shaun Soutar from Forfar and Danielle Bradley from Kirriemuir prepare for robot wars at D&A College.

As part of their course, introduction to computing students at D&A College have been busy designing, building and programming six robots.

And their creations come complete with some fearsome weaponry ranging from bulldozer blades to a buzz saw

As a fun way to mark the end of the course the students, working in pairs, pit their robots against each other – each robot trying to knock its opponent out of a ring.

But the exercise, although fun, also had a practical purpose.

Forward planning is vital as the students will have no control of the robots once they are unleashed in the combat area – good programming being the key to their success or failure.

James Oliver, lecturer, said: “The students have been learning basic programming and problem-solving skills by building robots to perform various tasks, like winning races or exploring simulated planetary surfaces.

“Robot wars is a fun way to conclude the robotics and problem-solving classes.”

The students created their robots using a system called Lego Mindstorms.

This system contains software and hardware to create customisable, programmable robots. They include an intelligent ‘brick’ computer that controls the system, a set of modular sensors and motors, and Lego parts from the Technic line to create the mechanical systems.

The machines are equipped with differnt sensors to detect the opposing robot and to help stay inside the ring.

And it will not be just the students who enjoy the fun, two ‘house robots’ designed by James and his colleague George McAteer, joined the fray at the college on Monday when, as well as fighting their classmates’ creations, each student’s robot engaged in battle with one of the lecturers’ robots.

As an added bout on the day the lecturers’ robots go face-to-face in what could be described as a bit of grudge match.

James added: “George and I have been squaring off against each other for six years and we are currently at 3-3.”