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Istrobot 2003

the 3rd annual robotic contest in Slovakia

On the 23rd of April contestants in stopař (line following), bludiště (micromouse) and volná jízda (free, unrestricted) categories met in Bratislava, Slovakia. The task of the line follower was to follow a black line on a white background and to cope with several traps (line discontinuation, tunnel, brick) along the way. The competing mice were required to find the fastest path through a maze of 16x16 squares 18cm each. The free category covered what was left allowing virtually any robot to compete. So our two robots we are building for the Eurobot 2003 Dana and Daisy competed here.

The contest took place in a really nice atmosphere, the one we are already used to from other robotic competitions, mainly Eurobot and/or Cleaning. Obviously the contestants were eager to win but that certainly didn't prevent them from sharing theirs experiences and accomplishments in the robotic field.

Stopař (the tracker, line following)

There were 21 trackers registered for the contest. We do not know the actual number of competing robots because many of them did not manage to finish their robots in time.
Each tracker robot had three attempts to be the fastest one to complete the whole track. Many of the robots were not able to complete the track at all mostly due to the line discontinuation (this time in the curve) and the brick in the way. When detecting an obstacle on the line the robots were supposed to go around it and rejoin the line again. During the first round a strong favorite from VUT Brno Brno University of Technology appeared. It had even improved its own time in the following runs leading to the final victory. As many of the robots were not even able to complete the whole track some may find pleasantly surprising the performace of several Lego robots built by grade school children. One of them even won a special prize of the jury.
  1. Robot 53 (Jakub Zigáček, Jan Vrbka a V. Kocichová — VUT Brno
  2. Wild Pig II (Milan Švingál, M. Karšay a P. Čižmáriková — SPŠE Bratislava)
  3. IRTAK (Vladimír Oravec, Branislav Bača, Dušan Bielik a spol. — TU Žilina)

Bludiště (micromouse)

Each cybermouse had 15 minutes to show what it can do. During this time the robot could map the maze and/or try to get as fast as possible from the start to the goal in the middle. The maze was built in a such way that the path to the middle could be found by just following either right or left wall to lower the bar even for less sophisticated robots without the ability to build a map of the maze. The most frequent reason for not finding a way through the maze was then not really functional hardware (mostly sensor problems).
This year's maze was ruled by robots from Jopy Hečko that took the first two places followed by robot Dan from Martin Locker.

Volná jízda (the free ride)

And finally the most awaited category where our robots competed. The winner of this category was determined by the audience. The strength of the applause for each robot was measured and the one with strongest applause was expected to be declared the winner. However an unexpected event occured, the strength of the applause was measured to be the same for two robots – ours and a robot called Jeronimo. The decision which one of them should get the first place was left to the jury. Jeronimo was built by Juraj Ečery using motors salvaged from old tape recorders, the gearing from old timepieces and alarm clocks and a case from a record player constituted the base. The robot was commanded from a regular PC notebook and was able to scoop a cup of water from one (precisely placed) bowl to another one (precisely placed). The bowls had to be on exact positions because the robot had no sensors (or associated inteligence) that could detect the possible misalignment. The point of the rest of the robot was solely to attract attention of the audience (“empty” square green head or catchy colored flashing lights). Jeronimo was awarded by the first prize by the jury, leaving Dana and Daisy the second place. The third place got a really interesting omnidrive robot MT2 by Martin Nemec from TU Košice which you can as many others find on the pictures scattered around here (taken for you by Kamil Řezáč).

The first three places in each catagory were financialy rewarded – 3, 2 and 1 thousand of SKK (Slovakian Crown). The amount of money was carefully balanced to motivate the contestants to do well in the contest but not to introduce any unhealthy competitive environment. To ease the participation for people from outside of Bratislava the organizers in cooperation the main sponsor company Datalan aranged for boarding and lodging. Interested participants could even present their robots the following day on the Cofax 2003 expo in Bratislava.
The whole event breathed by the joy of robots and robotics. The organizers were pleased that the audience and the participants enjoyed their stay there and vice versa. I think I'll speak for everybody when I say that we are all eagerly looking forward for the next robotic event coming up in Bratislava by our colleagues – The Robotic Holidays (description in slovak only).
Should you have any comments or questions about this event feel free to contact us. Further details about the contest can be found at were you could find i.e. complete resluts list or video feed of the event. You can open it in a new window or save it to disk. Our performace can be found around the time of 3:18.