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FIRE FIGHTING ROBOT CONTEST TRINITY COLLEGE HARTFORD CONNECTICUT

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

-Can we choose to not start in arbitrary start position? So we can always start at 'H' point between room 3 and room 4?

Your robot will always start at the "Home Circle" marked in Figure 5.3 *unless* you choose the Arbitrary Start Location mode (Section 6.5.1.4) for that trial run. However, remember that Arbitrary Orientation (Section 5.1.5) is *always* in effect: your robot must detect which way it's facing within the Home Circle. It will be pointed along one of the hallways, but you have no control over the exact orientation.

-If our robot hits the wall because of some errors, will it be shifted or moved?

There are penalties for sliding along the wall (Section 6.5.4), but none for gently bumping the wall. However, because the robot must operate autonomously, it must recover from the collision and continue the trial run on its own. The Judges will *not* reposition the robot after a wall collision. If it becomes stuck and cannot recover, it will fail the trial run.

-Do the walls stick to the floor?

Some of the wall sections have locating pins that extend into the arena floor, but others are free standing and easily moved. There is no specification for the amount of force required to move the walls and we do not identify which walls have locating pins.

-Is it only wall on room 4 or every room's wall can be moved by robot if it gets hit by accident?

You should assume your robot can move *any* wall that it touches, so you must design its navigation algorithms to avoid wall contacts. Section 5.2.1 describes the penalty for "Navigation by Crashing", which will be applied by the Arena Judges observing the trial run. Robots that crash into the walls generally cannot recover and usually fail that trial run: a winning robot must have precise navigation!

-Do the rugs, placed on the top of the floor, elevate the floor by around 1 cm?

Yes--they are ordinary low-pile carpet samples, cut to fit the arena dimensions. Although the rugs will be firmly glued to the floor, the edges generally are not taped; your robot must be able to navigate those small steps without faltering.

-Are the possible doll and chair positions like the picture on the Website?

The shaded areas are approximately correct. In practice, expect the Judges to avoid placing the chair close to the Home circle (where it might block the robot's exit and return) or behind the Refrigerator door. Similarly, the Grandma doll will probably stand somewhere between the Table and the Sink, rather than against the wall behind the Table or Sink.

You should assume the worst case, just in case the Judges put the obstacles in the *exact* location that poses the most difficulty for your robot. If you plan to handle that situation, then any other locations should be easy.

The Judges will not know which positions your robot will have the most trouble handling. They will put the obstacles in random locations, but good engineers know those locations will *always* be the wrong ones!

-With regards to the Humanoid RoboWaiter competition, what criteria are required to follow the game?

Humanoid robots must follow exactly the same rules as do wheeled and walking robots in the Robowaiter Contest.

We realize that this poses a difficult challenge, but we're certain a team will proudce a spectacular walking robot

-If my entry level RoboWaiter 'bot operates with sink mode, must it use sound activation?

If your robot operates in Cleanup Mode, then it must also use Sound Activated Moe and Return Trip Mode. It must start its trial and begin Cleanup with the Standard Start Device.

-What is the rule regarding limit on CO2 per robot in a swarm?

Since CO2 comes in units of 16 grams, contestants are allowed to have one per robot.

-On page 63 of the 2012 Rules, it is stated that in RoboWaiter, the chair is required and will be located, as in Figure 10.2, no more than 75 cm from the wall. Which wall is this?

If you face the refrigerator looking form the standard start position, it is the long wall to your right.

-The RoboWaiter Advanced Division Rules (On Page 70) describes the new sink option. Specifically the rules state that after the robot has returned to the Home Circle and ceased all motion, the Judge will restart the robot using the 3.8 kHz Standard Starting Device tone. The robot will return to the table, pick up the plate, transfer it to the sink, and return to the Home Circle. Question: Can the robot assume that the judge places the plate in a particular place before sounding the starting device?

The plate will be where the robot left it, with the food intact. However, since the robot might nudge or move the plate while releasing it or while backing away from the table, you should not assume the plate remains exactly where the robot left it. The Judges will not reposition the plate.What is the limit on the amount of water that can be carried by a robot swarm?

The limit is 50 ml.

-Why does the arena have only 90 degree angles?

We agree that having only 90 degree angles in the arena is very artificial and simplistic, but it is also a good representation of the real world where our buildings are mostly 90 degrees and very artificial. Also remember that we believe that the first actual use of these sorts of Robots will be in a warehouse situation which are very "90 degree-ish". Besides, it is hard enough to get these devices to work in this "easy", "simplistic" and "artificial" environment, putting in 56 degree turn would be even harder. When we reach the day when most of the Robots have no trouble with a 90 degree turn, then we will consider using other turns.

-Why have a random placement of the candle which results in some robots having an "easier" task then others?

In a real world situation, the location of the fire would be unknown and somewhat "random". A real fire-fighting Robot would have to prove its ability to search for the fire, rather then just go to it. If the location of the candle were known to the Robot before it started, it would be a rather easy task just to go directly to the correct room and flood it with CO2. The goal of this contest is not to make a Robot that can go to a specific place, but to make a Robot that can find and extinguish a candle. That is quite a different matter and a much harder one at that. But once you do it you have a really valuable device.

Yes, there is a bit of unfairness in that some Robots may accidentally get "harder" rooms than others, but we try to even things out somewhat by taking the 2 best of the 3 trials.

-Why is the robot penalized for hitting the wall?

In a real world situation, moving through a house by ricocheting off the walls is not a very practical means of locomotion. Yes, it might work in a few situations and yes, it does work in the mostly sterile environment of this contest, but in the real world, it is very impractical. In a real-world warehouse with its stacks of merchandise, this is not a realistic way to travel.

- I see no mention about the furniture not blocking doorways or how much it can constrict passage within rooms.

The furniture will NOT block a doorway and a Robot will be able to come into a room at least half way before it encounters furniture. The furniture will always be placed so that there is at least one path to the candle that is at least 12.25" wide. However, if your Robot is 12" wide, it may NOT be possible to go around the furniture on either side. On one side the distance to the wall may be less than 12". Therefore, for example, if your Robot always moves to the left whenever it encounters furniture, it may find that it's way is blocked and it will have to go around the furniture on the other side. This is one of the subtle problems that makes the furniture mode so challenging.

-Why is dead reckoning allowed since it is not a very real-world way to move?

Yes, this is correct, dead reckoning (the adding of steps and turns to your original position in order to calculate your new position) is not a very effective way to maneuver in the real world. The reason it is allowed in the contest is because it is the easiest way for a beginner to maneuver their Robot. If we make the initial contest requirements too high, then novices would never be able to enter. However, the rules do give an advantage to Robots operating without the use of dead-reckoning.

 

- We are thinking of building a robot that has the ability to separate into two parts and reconnect itself after a successful extinguishing. The overall size of the complete robot would be in accordance with the rules. Would this strategy be allowed?

The real goal of this contest is not to merely put out a candle, but to encourage the Robotics community to build efficient Robots that can function effectively in a real-world situation. The key to operating in the real world is to make an intelligent Robot that can respond appropriately to its environment.

If it would be legal for a Robot to separate into multiple sections each looking for the candle on its own, then someone could make 4 small Robots (total dimensions under 12.25") that would separate and each run to a different room to search for the candle. Carried to an extreme, what if there were 8 or 12 or 16 very small Robots that just ran around randomly looking for the candle. These Robots would not have to be very smart and could solve the problem mainly through shear numbers rather than intelligence. This might work in the sterile contest arena, but would not be a very practical solution for the real world.

While your proposal does not specifically violate any individual rule (it does, however, bend Rule #6 quite a bit), it does violate the spirit of the contest and so it can not be allowed. However why don't you enter it in "The Spirit of an Inventor" category and win that prize?

- Why is speed a consideration for judging the winning robot?

Obviously in putting out a fire, speed is important, but it is even more important in making the Robot contest interesting and fun to watch. It is very painful to watch a Robot take the full 5 minutes to find and extinguish a candle. However, reliability is also important and the current rules also encourage reliability.

- In the carpet pictures there are blue, pink and brown areas, what are they ? What things will be in the areas?

The colored areas are examples of where carpets might be placed. We have shown carpets of different colors. The layout will not be exactly as shown.

-Would there ever be mirrors on both sides of the hallway that are parallel to each other?

It is possible but not likely.

-Is there a reason for limiting the height of a robot that goes to the second floor? Is this based on a wall height of 21 cm?

The is no staircase in the expert divison--just a ramp. The height limitation in the expert division does not depend on the ramp height--just the wall height, which is 27-34 cm.

Concept arena aside, a staircase is in the SL arena only. The 21cm robot height limitation is the worst-case (smallest) allowable robot height in the SL division for robots that go over the staircase. This 21 cm figure takes into account (1) the height of the staircase, (2) the minimum wall height, and (3) the rule that the robot can't look over the wall--which we interpret as no part of the robot higher than the top of the wall.

-Do you limit the number of robots in a swarm? Are there any more specifications?

There will be no more swarms.

-What does "non-destructive" mean in regards to the clutter mode?

We will have non-destructable clutter. There will be a rules modification addressing this.

-Can you give some examples of what you mean by "clutter"?

The clutter items might be a variety of small objects that meet the size spec on the web. These might include small pieces of hardware, wooden items, golf tees, toy animals, etc.

Our interior decorator (just kidding) will hang such things as parts of curtains, small mirrors, patterned contact paper, and cloth material on the walls. The carpeting will be short-nap carpet typically used in indoor/outdoor applications or storm entry areas.

-Is clutter mode optional?

Cluttter is an option that you may choose. If you do not choose this option, there will be no clutter and consequently no score reduction.

-Can my robot use pressurized C02 to extinguish the flame? Will it count towards the bonus?

CO2 is good, it doesn't fan the flame. Yes it would count towards the bonus.

-Will the color and location of carpets be consistent throughout the contest weekend?

You won't be able to count on the carpet colors; they will change through the weekend.

-Would we be penalized if the strong flow of carbon dioxide from our robot's spray knocks over the candle, even when the robot itself does not touch it?

You would not be penalized.

-How big are the mirrors in the arena?

They will be as small as 5cm on of side and as large as 15cm on any side.

-What are the criteria for choosing High School Entry or Standard level divisions?

You may choose to enter either of the high school divisions (Entry or Standard). The high school division applies to grades 9 - 12 in the US system. The team can freely choose either one of the levels to participate in the competition.

-Can my walking robot have wheels?

The judges would decide that a robot with wheels that roll along during the robot's progress is not eligible for the walking division. If the robot had wheels at the end of its legs so that the wheels acted something like shoes, or contact points, it would be ok as a walker.

-Does the cost of the free Versa Valve count toward the cost of the robot when considering entry into the cost effective division?

We will consider the cost of a Versa Valve to be zero.

-Can my walking robot have a wheel if it does not support or propel the robot (such as for measuring distance)?

No, walking robots do not have wheels of any kind.