Our team, representing LSU, placed third out of twenty universities at the 2014 IEEE Region 5 Student Robotics Competition. The competition was held on April 5, 2014 in Corpus Christi, Texas. The objective was to build a small robot that could extinguish a simulated oil rig fire on a predefined course. The robot had to determine which oil rig out of three was on fire, pick up the correct tool to extinguish the fire, navigate a maze, and use the tool to extinguish the fire. All tasks had to be completed in under four minutes, and points were awarded for number of tasks completed. The robot had to be completely autonomous, which means that it could not be controlled by anyone and had to perform all the tasks on its own.
We participated in the competition as part of our joint Senior Design project between the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering departments. Our team consisted of Nicolas Aguirre (EEC), Joshua Duncan (EE), Gregory Garner (EE), Collin Lee (ME), and Daniel Quebedeaux (EEC). We designed the robot during the Fall 2013 semester, and the manufacturing and testing took place over the Spring 2014 semester. The robot was designed and built from scratch and incorporated concepts from the electrical, computer, and mechanical disciplines.
Our team qualified for the Finals in the first of three qualifying rounds by being able to complete at least one task. After the first final round, we were tied for third with four other universities. In the tiebreaker round for third, we scored four out of the five possible points. This gave us the third place position and was the highest score achieved in competition play. We received many compliments from other universities on the design and performance of our robot. Our team was recognized at the Awards Banquet for placing third. We received certificates, student editions of the LabVIEW software, and a $200.00 cash prize.
We had to learn many technical skills in order to build a successful robot, in areas such as computer vision, microcontroller programming, mobile power, servo and motor control, and manufacturing. In addition to technical skills, we all had to learn about the design process, project management, budgeting, and working together as a team.
The most rewarding part for the team was seeing all of our hard work pay off. We also enjoyed talking with the other universities and discovering the many creative ways other teams approached the same problem. The whole experience increased our interest in the field of robotics.
– Nicolas Aguirre, Joshua Duncan, Gregory Garner, Collin Lee, and Daniel Quebedeaux