Description & Rules

Time and Place:

Gates Building 6115

August 20, 2010

9:50am - 5:00pm

Build Time Remaining

Updates and Clarifications

  • Clarifications #1
    • Points are NOT double counted.  If a ball is inside your robot, you will not get additional points for putting the robot in the starting area.
    • You cannot get points by picking up opponents' robots that may contain balls.
    • You can put any number of things in your starting area.  They do not have to be connected or actuated in any way.
    • In competition, balls will be inserted at a rate of one every 10 seconds.  That is 18 balls per side each round.
    • You can drive anywhere on the board, and so can your opponent!
    • You cannot use external pieces (bags, pieces of the lego crates, etc.) as part of your robot.
    • The hair dryers will be set on LOW for competition runs.
    • You can trigger actions within the starting area during the first 5s of a round (e.g. releasing a catch mechanism), but be careful, you can be disqualified if you touch something outside of the starting area or touch anything after the first 5s.
    Posted Aug 20, 2010, 10:15 AM by Pras Velagapudi
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The Robotics Institute is an academically diverse place; the truth is, sometimes people can spend quite a bit of time here without getting their hands dirty working with real robots. To address this, we present the fifth annual Immigration Course Robotics Competition.

Working in teams of three, you will be presented with a task which you must design and build a robot to solve. We will be using Lego Mindstorms with the NXT block for robot control. Programming will be done with the RobotC programming language.

When forming groups, we will try to balance out individual specialties: ideally, each group should contain at least one experienced programmer as well someone who is mechanically inclined (or at least has experience with Legos).


9:50 - 11:00 : Intro presentation, form teams
11:00 - 12:00 : BUILD YOUR ROBOT
12:00 : Lunch
12:00 - 16:00 : PROGRAM YOUR ROBOT
16:00 - 17:00 : Competition and dinner

Task and Rules

Disaster has struck the gulf coast: not one, but two oil wells have blown out, spewing their noxious load of oil (ping-pong balls) everywhere. Your goal is to build a robot to mitigate the damage, both by cleaning up the existing spill and by attempting to cap the wells so that no more oil is released. Since this disaster is of national importance, the cleanup hasn't been left to just one team: two teams will simultaneously tackle the problem in a beautiful example of how market-oriented solutions can be applied to environmental issues.

Capping the Well

Complicating the cleanup operation are the still active oil wells, which will periodically spew out more oil. These wells can be capped; if the cap is strong enough, the oil will be redirected and can be successfully harvested. If the cap is weak, the oil won't be redirected, but will instead just build in the well-- while this will score no points, it will at least prevent further pollution.


To aid in your task, your robot will be sent its (and its opponent's) position and orientation through Bluetooth ('gps'). For this to function properly, a marker must be placed visibly on top of your robot. You are not required to take advantage of this, or even use the marker.

The gps system also gives you some information about the location of the oil spill (the ping-pong balls).

General Rules

  • You may not use any components except those provided in your kit (a few extra kits may be available for a few extra parts). You are free to trade parts with other teams.
  • Because of the risk of bricking the bricks, you must use the RobotC development environment, unless you can make a very convincing case that you know what you're doing.
  • You will play a series of matches in a single elimination tournament. The first level of the tournament will be decided by single rounds, but later levels may be decided by best of three, time permitting.
  • The tournament seeds will be decided by the organizers and posted prior to the first match.
  • The organizers' decisions are final.

Arena Construction

The arena is a 4 ft square with two starting areas at opposing corners.
The arena is split across the other diagonal into two side, one for each team.

The two leaking wells are in along the center of the map.  They each redirect to one of the relief wells located in the starting area of one team.  Which side connects to which well can vary, but one will always connect to each team's starting area.

The starting areas are 1ft squares.  Teams may construct any static or moving structures in this area.

Round Rules

Rounds will last a maximum of three minutes (180 seconds).
Robots must start completely within their starting square (12" x 12"); the maximum height is 18''. Starting sides are selected at random before each round by coin flip. Within these constraints teams may choose their starting location and orientation.

Teams will have 30s before the start of the round to orient their robot as they see fit within the starting square and perform any other setup. When the referee calls "start!", the teams must start their robots. Team members can touch anything within the starting rectancle for 5 seconds after start is called.  If a team member is still touching their robot outside the starting area or more than 5s after the call of start, that team loses the round.

Balls will be inserted simultaneously into both air vents every 10 seconds until the round is over.

At the end of the round, the robot with the most points wins (scoring being explained in the following section).


A robot receives at the end of the round:

1 point for every ball in their starting square
1 point for every ball contained in the robot (a ball is contained if it remains with the robot when the robot is picked up)
-1 point for every ball on their side of the playing area outside of the starting square

There is no direct bonus or penalty for capping or failing to cap the well. However, a tightly capped well will redirect the periodic oil spews directly into the starting area, and a weakly capped well will at least stop balls from accumulating and costing points.

Rule FAQ

Can we cap the opponent's well?

Yes, if you want. You might also consider badly capping the opponent's well so as to deny them the points from a strong cap.

Can we fiddle with the 'relief well' in our starting area?

You can build anything you want in the starting area, but please don't actually cap the relief well-- this could cause the motors in the air blowers to overheat.

During our setup phase, are we allowed to change the program the robot is running, either by using multiple program slots, or by uploading
another program?

Yes, but remember if you're still touching it ten seconds after start is called, you lose.

Can we take advantage of the fact that the 'gps' tells us our opponent's location?


Can we not wear the marker, or leave the marker in the starting area, in order to deny our opponents knowledge of our position?

Yes, but you won't know where you are either.

Reference Robot Design

We have provided you with a reference robot design which is capable of randomly moving around and collecting balls.
You can find the instructions for the design here:


Download the 30 day trial from here:

Hints And Tips

For additional helpful tips on getting started building your robot, like example code and instructions on how to build a robot, look at the Hints And Tips page.
Pras Velagapudi,
Aug 21, 2010, 11:22 AM