Easter Egg Hunt

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On April 28, 1999 Steven Bolt posted a message to the alt-beam email list in which he proposed a robot Easter Egg Hunt contest that would be challenging enough to increase interest in BEAM robotics.

[edit] Steven's Proposal

The following comes from Steven's original post:

Last time I checked, there were 344 subscribers on this list – not significantly more or less than a year ago. The topics of discussion seem also pretty much the same. One could even argue that they have become less ambitious. Obviously, there ought to be a contest for those who have just discovered this hobby. But I think that a next, task-oriented level would make BEAM more attractive for all, not just for those who'd actually participate in that second contest.

It should happen in an `arena', designed to restrict the size of the `bots and provide them with an environment where cheap and simple sensors are sufficient. The arena should not be too large - let's say 100x50cm - and easy to put together. For a first `second level' contest, a flat, bordered surface with simple obstacles might do fine.

And the task? For instance this':

Five Aluminum foil balls with a diameter between 1 and 1.5cm would be positioned at random. Within a certain time a robot would have to find all these `Easter Eggs', and gather them within a 20x20cm area. This `nest' might be marked with an omnidirectional IR beacon and a black floor, the arena being white. Everything except the balls would be in a matt finish, making remote sensing of the reflective (and conductive) balls at least possible. The organizers would design and build a `bot which demonstrates that the task is doable, and publish the details. The aim of the contest is to not only do it, but do it faster. Points would also be earned by performing the task with a simpler `bot.

This particular task might stimulate developments useful for all sorts of practical applications. The `bots need to rapidly explore the whole arena, and have to make clever use of the single IR beacon. They also must be energy-efficient to have sufficient speed and stamina.

Participants would test their robots in their own arena's. The contest itself would use the `proxy' method, tried, tested and still popular in [Free_flight_(model_aircraft)#"Indoors" indoor aeromodelling]. You build your robot, write up a short manual and mail everything to the organizers. A competent proxy unpacks your robot, notifies you of arrival in good condition, does minor assembly if necessary, perhaps charges its batteries and finally puts it in the standard arena, but with obstacles and balls in different, randomly chosen positions. Afterwards the robots are mailed back together with any prizes won and perhaps a video of the event. The results would of course be published on the Web.

There are many questions left to answer, like whether participants would be obliged to publish their designs or not, whether a group of robots might be allowed, and so on. I hope it's worth a little more thought.



[edit] External References

Clicking on the following links will allow you to view a couple of robots that Steven created for the contest

[edit] Also See:

Individual BEAM Game Events Past BEAM Robot Games

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