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A Minefield for Robots

I have used this exciting challenge as the final event of robot summer camps for middle school students. They find many creative ways to win and it’s a great way to end the week with the students energized and spectators thrilled.

BotBrain Educational Robots Minefield ChallengeMinefields

This is a fun challenge that simulates a real-world activity. Your students create robots which can find and disarm simulated land mines http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minefield.

Mines are simulated by modified mousetraps recessed into the “battlefield” surface. They are mousetraps, modified so they cannot pinch fingers, which “detonate” when something touches them. The robot which disarms the most in the time available wins.

To create a mindfield challenge you will need an arena and simulated ‘mines’ recessed below the arena surface. You can modify standard mousetraps by adding string so they cannot snap shut on fingers. BotBrain Educational Robots makes arena (shameless plug) out of half inch plywood with “mines” set in shallow cups which rest in holes in the plywood of the 4’x 4’ floor.

Setting off a "mine" accidently counts but there are more points awarded when a bot detects the mines and sets them off on purpose. If ‘mines’ are painted black they contrast with the light wood and plastic surfaces. Infrared sensors, light sensors, color sensors and possibly touch sensors can then detect them. The robot must communicate this before setting one off, making a sound for instance, to get the better score.


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Robert Contaldi