Race to the Wall, March 2018 – Rules and Information

This semester’s Race to the Wall event will commence at 2pm (or shortly thereafter) on Wednesday 7th March 2018 in room KEG-036. The event will be suspended at close of business on Wednesday 7th March, and then re-opened for a period on the afternoon of Friday 9th March. The competition ends for DT066 teams at the end of the extra session on the afternoon of Friday 9th March. Different competition times may apply to DT009 teams (refer to John McGrory for details).

Due to the snow-related closure of DIT during week 6, the normal preferential ranking granted to teams who complete the Race to the Wall in week 6 over those who complete it in week 7 will be modified this semester as explained below. (Short version: teams who complete on Wednesday will be ranked above those who complete on Friday or later.)

Teams who do not complete the Race to the Wall task on Wednesday 7th October 2017 (week 7) will have a second opportunity to complete the task on the afternoon of Friday 9th October 2018 (at a specific time, yet to be announced). Any teams who complete the challenge before the event closes on Wednesday 7th March will be ranked above all teams that complete the challenge after that.

The final ranking will be determined as follows:

  1. The highest ranked teams will be those that complete the Race to the Wall task on (or before) Wednesday 7th March 2018 who are fully compliant with the weight and size restrictions (see below). These teams will be ranked in ascending order of recorded time, each team’s recorded time being their best time achieved on or before Wednesday 7th March.
  2. The next ranked set of teams will be those that complete the task on or before Wednesday 7th March, but who are not fully compliant with the size and weight restrictions. These teams will be ranked in ascending order of recorded time, each team’s recorded time being their best time achieved on or before Wednesday 7th March. Please note, however, that permission to attempt the task with a non-compliant robot will be granted at the discretion of the RoboSumo tutors only. Robots which grossly exceed the limits will be disqualified.
  3. The next ranked set of teams will be those that complete the task after Wednesday 7th March and are fully compliant with the weight and size restrictions. These teams will be ranked in order of speed.
  4. The next ranked set of teams will be those that complete the task after Wednesday 7th March and are not fully compliant with the weight and size restrictions. These teams will be ranked in order of speed.
  5. The final ranked set of teams will be those that do not complete before the competition ends, but are still deemed by the tutors to merit ranking on the basis of technical attainment.

Before stating the rules formally, here’s a quick introduction:

(Editable SVG versions of gallery images: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)


The Competition

The competition requires each robot to compete in a time-trial race. Robots perform the time trial one at a time and are ranked on a leaderboard. The objective is to complete the race as quickly as possible.

The results of the race will be used to determine your robot’s starting position on the RoboSumo Leaderboard for the final RoboSumo competition. The format of this semester’s RoboSumo tournament is still to be finalised, but in previous DIT RoboSumo tournaments starting higher on the leaderboard was a significant advantage.

In the event of a tie between two or more robots in the Race to the Wall, the position on the leaderboard will be determined by an assessment of the quality of the robot construction.

The Race

The robot begins in a starting position before the start/finish line (see Figure 1). A team member pressed a start button or otherwise switches on the robot’s power, then withdraws. Team members may not physically propel the robot. Once the robot is activated, team members may not intervene or interfere with it in any way for the full duration of the task.

The robot must do the following:

  • Move forward autonomously from the starting position,
  • Break the start/finish laser beam once and only once (the first of two times during the race),
  • Continue moving forward until it touches a block,
  • Move back towards the start/finish line,
  • Stop on the start/finish line within the 20 second time limit, breaking the start/finish laser beam for the second and final time. The beam must remain continuously broken for a minimum of 2 seconds.

When the robot returns to and stops on the start/finish line, if the beam becomes unbroken within 2 seconds the robot is disqualified and the time is not recorded on the leaderboard. Disqualification for this reason does not prevent a robot from attempting the task again.

If the robot successfully completes the task, the time recorded will be the time between the first and second breaking of the beam. Each team can attempt the task an unlimited number of times during the event. However, if others are waiting to attempt the task, a team must return to the back of the queue following each attempt. At the discretion of the tutors, teams who have not yet recorded a time may be given priority over teams who have already recorded a time but wish to improve upon it.

The Robot

The robot must satisfy the criteria for the mini-sumo class in the Robot Challenge robot sumo rules, with the following additional requirements:

  • At every moment during the race, there must exist a cuboid 10cm in horizontal length, 10cm in horizontal width and of unlimited height which encloses every part of the robot. In other words, the dimensions of a robot cannot expand outside its 10cm x 10cm footprint at any time during a race.
  • The sides of the robot must be covered with an opaque material so that the robot reliably breaks the start/finish laser beam once and only once as it passes through it.

The key features are:

  • The robot must be fully autonomous.
  • The footprint of the robot (its shape / area when viewed from above) must fit within a 10cm by 10cm square.
  • The robot’s mass must not exceed 0.5kg.


Figure 1: The Race to the Wall track. (Click here to download editable SVG version of image)

The Track

The race will take place on a flat horizontal light-coloured surface (probably one or more tables) in room KEG-036. One end of the track is marked with a dark line of tape (the start/finish line). A block stands at the other end of the track. The track is between 1m and 2m in length (from the start/finish line to the block). The start/finish line is parallel to the vertical face of the block.

The Start/Finish Laser Beam

The laser beam is used to start and stop the timer for the race, and is used to accurately measure each robot’s race time. The laser will be in a fixed position at a height of 5cm and will be aimed horizontally across the track, above (and parallel to) the start/finish line.

The Block

The block is a solid object at least 20cm high and 50cm wide. It will be positioned such that its face is perpendicular to the table surface and parallel to the shorter edge of the table, as shown in Figure 1. The position of the block will be otherwise unspecified but will be the same for each competing robot.

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No Race to the Wall today due to snow – DIT closing at noon!

Hi All,

Owing to the weather conditions, DIT has announced that it will be closing at 12 noon today (Wednesday 28th Feb) so this afternoon’s Race to the Wall will have to be postponed.

They are recommending that staff and students who aren’t already on the way to DIT should stay at home.


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Lecture notes from 21-2-2018

// Operators example for Arduino
// Written by Ted Burke 21-2-2018

// TCRT5000 on D7
// Switch on D8

void setup()
  // Digital output pins to control motors
  pinMode(4, OUTPUT); // White LED
  pinMode(5, OUTPUT); // Green LED
  pinMode(6, OUTPUT); // Blue LED

void loop()
  int a, b;

  a = 1;
  b = 1;

  while (1)
    a = digitalRead(8);
    b = digitalRead(7);
    digitalWrite(4, HIGH); // white on
    digitalWrite(4, LOW); // white off
  // Flash blue LED for 5 seconds
  digitalWrite(6, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(6, LOW);
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Example from today’s lecture – RTTW

Here’s the circuit from today’s example:

Here’s that Inkscape tutorial video we looked at:

Here’s the code example we worked on:

// Race to the wall example for Arduino
// Written by Ted Burke 14-2-2018

void setup()
  // Digital output pins to control motors
  pinMode(4, OUTPUT); // LM forward
  pinMode(5, OUTPUT); // LM reverse
  pinMode(6, OUTPUT); // RM forward
  pinMode(7, OUTPUT); // RM reverse

void loop()
  int s;

  // Drive forward while switch not pressed
  s = digitalRead(2);
  while( s == 0 )
    // Both motors forward
    digitalWrite(4, HIGH);
    digitalWrite(5, LOW);
    digitalWrite(6, HIGH);
    digitalWrite(7, LOW);

    s = digitalRead(2);

  // Both motors reverse
  digitalWrite(4, LOW);
  digitalWrite(5, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(6, LOW);
  digitalWrite(7, HIGH);

  // Black line detected

  // Stop
  digitalWrite(4, LOW);
  digitalWrite(5, LOW);
  digitalWrite(6, LOW);
  digitalWrite(7, LOW);


Screenshot of WordPress editor:

Emma’s Ozobot:

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Three colours LED example with TCRT5000 and switch

// Three colours example for Arduino
// Written by Ted Burke 7-2-2018

void setup()
  pinMode(4, OUTPUT); // white LED
  pinMode(5, OUTPUT); // green LED
  pinMode(6, OUTPUT); // blue LED

void loop()
  int x, y;

  x = digitalRead(7);
  if (x == 1)
    digitalWrite(6, HIGH);    
    digitalWrite(6, LOW);

  y = digitalRead(8);

  if (y == 1)
    digitalWrite(5, HIGH); // green LED on
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Images from today’s lecture on LED / motor control from Arduino

Link to the datasheet for the SN754410NE driver IC

Information on the Race to the Wall (from last semester – subject to change)

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Welcome to RoboSumo – Semester 2, 2017-2018

Welcome to the RoboSumo project, which is undertaken by students of programme DT066A (Engineering common first year) and programme DT009 in the Dublin Institute of Technology. Over the course of this semester, you will work in teams of (usually) three to design and build a robot that will compete in a RoboSumo tournament. The tournament consists of a series of bouts in which two robots at a time compete to push each other off a table (the arena). A detailed set of rules are provided which impose constraints on the cost, weight, physical dimensions and various other elements of the robot design. It is up to each team to improvise within the specified constraints to produce the most competitive robot they can.

Provisional Schedule

There are 13 teaching weeks in the semester. The provisional schedule for the RoboSumo project is shown below. This schedule is subject to modification and is provided here as a general guide to help you plan your work.

  • Week 1 (this week): Ice breaker exercises, form teams, begin LED Flash Challenge.
  • Week 2: Complete LED Flash Challenge, begin work on Race to the Wall robot.
  • Week 4: Tutors verify that each student’s blog contains a post including text, an original photo and an embedded video.
  • Weeks 6-7: Race to the Wall competition.
  • Note: Two week break for Easter between weeks 9 and 10.
  • Week 9: Tutors verify that each student’s blog contains documentation of the Race to the Wall.
  • Week 12: RoboSumo tournament.
  • Week 13: Closing date for RoboSumo blog entries.

Some things to be aware of

  • We are here to help you learn to manage your project effectively as a team. We will do our best to facilitate your work, but…
  • We are not here to tell you what to do every step of the way. You are expected to carry out independent research to figure out what you need to do to complete this project. We want to help you but we need you to be independent.
  • There are limits to what we can provide in terms of materials and tools. You will probably need to source materials and/or access to tools independently.
  • You will need some of your own tools – e.g. snips, pliers.
  • You and your teammates will need to look after your own robot, materials and components (including the RoboSumo kit) throughout the project. This applies as of today!
  • You need to supply your own batteries.
  • Please do not take apart the yellow motors we give you.
  • Please do not remove the backing sheet from the mini breadboard we give you (unless you’re absolutely certain that you want to stick it to something permanently).

What to do today (Wednesday 24-1-2018)

In today’s lecture (2-3pm in room KE3-008, which is the large lecture theatre on the third floor of the main building in Kevin St), I will describe the project objectives, review the provisional schedule and explain how the assessment works.

In today’s lab (3-6pm in rooms KEG-012, KEG-014 and KEG-036 on the ground floor of the main building in Kevin St), you have four jobs to do. The first three are quite short; the fourth is more challenging.

  1. Meet your tutor(s) – this is the lecturer who will supervise your lab group and assist you in completing the project.
  2. Do some icebreakers.
  3. Form teams of 3 – your tutor will assign each team a number (see number range for each group below) and give you a set of components. It is your responsibility to look after these components (like all your equipment and materials) throughout the project.
  4. Complete (or at least make significant progress on) the LED Flash Challenge. See the previous post on this blog for details.

Each team must have a unique name and team number. Your tutor will assign your team a number from the range allocated to your group, as shown below:

  • Teams 50-59: DT066A Group A1 with John in KEG-012
  • Teams 60-69: DT066A Group A2 with Emma in KEG-014
  • Teams 70-89: DT066A Groups B1 and B2 with Ted/Gavin in KEG-036
  • Teams 90-99: DT009/2 teams (they’ll be in each of the competitions)

Note: Tutors, please make a list of teams in your group that includes team number and team members! (Team name too, if known)

Your kit today will include:

  1. 1 x mini breadboard
  2. 1 x Arduino Nano (with ATmega 328 microcontroller)
  3. 1 x mini USB cable
  4. 2 x green LED
  5. 2 x 220 Ohm resistor

Next week, once you have completed the LED Flash challenge, you will receive the following additional items:

  1. 2 x Arduino Nano (with ATmega 328 microcontroller)
  2. 2 x mini USB cable
  3. 1 x 4AA battery holder with built-in switch
  4. 2 x yellow geared DC motor
  5. 1 x SN754410NE driver chip
  6. 1 x TCRT5000 infrared reflective sensor
  7. 1 x microswitch
  8. 1 x 1000uF electrolytic capacitor
  9. 4 x green LED
  10. 4 x red LED
  11. 4 x yellow LED
  12. 8 x 220 Ohm resistor
  13. 8 x 10 kOhm resistor
  14. 2 x 100 kOhm resistor
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