The Circulator

“So basically, I tried to do it with the big motors, and it didn’t work — it didn’t fit — and so I tried to do it another way with the large motors, so then I had the idea of these two small motors, and I checked to see if I could put it anywhere else . . .

It goes in circles because it’s not even support on both sides.”

(student response to the minimalist robot challenge)

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Rear-steered front-wheel drive buggy

This buggy uses a medium motor to drive the front wheels, and a medium motor to steer the rear wheels. The rear-wheel steering concept did not work well in practice. It was easy to program the rear axle to turn and then return to where it had started, but the friction of the tires would prevent this from happening.

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Minimalist Challenge

We recently had a Mindstorms challenge with the following rules:

  • robot must move in a straight line
  • robot need not move quickly, nor even roll (it might crawl or drag parts of itself along the ground)
  • the winning robot is the robot made out of the fewest pieces.

We counted every piece, including every single peg and cable. Battery and EV3 brick counted as one.

Of three competing teams, a first submission was made up of 23 pieces. That team was asked to study their robot for non-essential equipment. They returned with a robot consisting of 21 pieces, and later, with a robot consisting of 17 pieces.

A second team began with a robot made with 20 pieces, returned with a robot of 16 pieces, and ended with a robot with only 11 pieces.

The winning submission had only 8 pieces, on the first try.

Can we make do with even less?