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Taiwan Tech Competition Robot Mars Rover “Curiosity” Wins Championship


June 12th 2018  12:35PM  Wanted Daily


Li You-Shan


The course “Mechanical System Design and Practice” offered by Taiwan Tech has been a tradition of the Department of Mechanical Engineering for several decades. It is a required course for third-year students in the department. A robot competition is held at the end of the semester every year, and this year 20 groups made it into the final round. The championship went to “Taiwan Tech R.O.B. Squad,” whose robot was inspired by “Curiosity,” a rover designed to explore Mars.


The robot competition held at the end of the semester by Taiwan Tech’s Department of Mechanical Engineering trains students in professional areas such as mechanism design and manufacture, power distribution and control, etc. It also strengthens students’ knowledge of mechatronics. The challenge of building complicated robots has effectively enhanced the students’ ability in project execution and practice.


The main task this year is the transportation of ping pong balls. Students were assigned to design remote-controlled robots to pick up ping pong balls, avoid obstacles, climb stairs, and to put down the balls according to their colors. Students racked their brains to design all kinds of creative robots.


The theme of the robot competition this year “Army Ant” required remotely-controlled robots to be able to move, climb stairs, pick up and place balls, etc. The requirements seemed easy but were a great challenge to the stability of the mechanism of the robots, which were required to act with fast speed and precision. In addition, the agility of the students’ operation and the robots’ accuracy in manipulating the balls were also important keys to the outcome.


Taiwan Tech President Liao Ching-Jong mentioned that before graduation, students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering are required to have the ability to create robots. Through group competitions, students are able to learn from each other and cultivate teamwork and leadership skills. This year the designs are quite diverse, for the students put extra effort into machining to produce the robots’ external features, exhibiting creativity and imagination.


The champion “Taiwan Tech R.O.B. Squad” referred to the design of the Mars rover “Curiosity” to create a special chassis. The robot’s six wheels can touch the ground at the same time even when climbing the stairs. Its motors were able to output enough horsepower for the robot to move smoothly and stably, getting the best results in the first round. Team member Liao Zhe-Wei said that after overcoming problems such as the robot’s instability when climbing, the team began to think about how to speed up the pace of picking up and placing the balls. In addition to increasing their proficiency in the actual match through diligent practice, the team also continuously optimized the programming of the robot arm. Liao Zhe-Wei, who is responsible for writing the programs, said that this was his first time to design a robot. Although he encountered many difficulties, he also gained abundant practical knowledge.


The runner-up “Shang-Yin Revolution Meat Bun Squad” paid special attention to the robot’s ball-fetching speed. The team installed an elastic mechanism under the tube so that their robot could pick up the ball accurately and quickly. To overcome the robot’s instability when it climbed the stairs, the members not only carved grooves on the four wheels but also added non-slip mats. Team captain Lu Yi-Ru participated in programming, circuit distribution and mechanism development. He said that in addition to the accumulation of practical experience, the most important thing he has learned in the competition is leadership and task assignment.


Participants also included contestants who have represented Taiwan in WorldSkills Competitions in the categories of Mobile Robotics and CNC Milling. With their rich experience in robotics, daring innovation and constant self-challenge, they attempted to design two different robots which are different from what they had created for WorldSkills within a limited time.


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