4th Annual IC Robotics Competition

Gates Building 6115
August 21, 2009

Time until build phase ends:

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    Posted Aug 4, 2009, 9:44 PM 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 fourth 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 RCX block for robot control. Programming will be done with the NQC 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).


  • 1:30 - 1:45 meet the organizers, form teams
  • 1:45 - 2:00 task overview and introductory demo
  • 2:00 - 3:00 robot design and assembly
  • 3:00 - 5:30 work on task
  • 5:30 - 6:30 competition and dinner
  • 6:30 results and awards ceremony

Task and Rules

Your task is to build a lego robot to play a game similar to, but legally distinct from, Pac Man. In particular, your robot must be able to navigate a maze to pick up pellets. You will compete in a single elimination tournament of head to head games against other teams.

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.

  • You may use another development environment besides NQC if you prefer, but you must use a single RCX brick for control.

  • 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 will be decided by best of three rounds.
  • 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 42'' x 42''

  • Walls are 1'' thick, and 3'' high.
  • Lanes for robot travel range from 8'' across for the outer ring, to 7'' for the middle ring, and 6'' for the central room.
  • There are 10 regular pellets and one Power Pellet arranged as per the diagram.

Round Rules

  • Rounds will last a maximum of three minutes (180 seconds).

  • Robots must start completely within their starting "L" (the three 8'' x 8'' squares arranged in the corner); the maximum height is 16''. 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 "L" and perform any other setup. When the referee calls "start!", the teams must start their robots. If a team member is still touching their robot more than 10s after the call of start, that team loses the round.
  • Before each round, each team will secretly (or not; you can shout this to the referee if you want) indicate to the referee whether they are playing "Offense" or "Defense" (these will be explained later). Before the 30s setup phase, the referee will announce both teams' decisions. Teams are encouraged to take this knowledge into account during their setup.
  • At the end of the round, the robot with the most points wins, unless the round was concluded by a robot with the Power Pellet colliding with another robot, in which case the robot with the Power Pellet wins.

  • Robots playing Offense gain one point per regular pellet possessed at the end of the round. Robots playing Defense gain two points for every regular pellet possessed at the end of the round.
  • "Possessing" a pellet means supporting it completely by your robot (i.e., the pellet will remain in the robot if the robot is picked up). Alternatively / additionally, any pellets in a team's starting corner (8'' x 8'', NOT the entire "L") count for half points (i.e., 1/2 point if on offense, 1 point if on defense). A pellet contained by a robot cannot count as being in a corner (e.g., a pellet in a robot which is also over the team's starting corner only counts for a normal point, not as 1.5 points). 
  • Special power pellet rules: the power pellet counts, pointwise, the same as a regular pellet. Pushing the power pellet into your corner does count as possessing it for the purpose of winning by power pellet collision (however, nothing prevents the other player from stealing the power pellet in this case).
  • If two robots collide and either or both are playing Offense, then the round ends.
  • If two robots collide, and one possesses the power pellet, then the round ends and the robot possessing the power pellet wins, regardless of the number of points and Offense / Defense status of the robots.
  • If two robots collide and both are playing Defense, and neither has the Power Pellet, then nothing special happens and the round continues.
  • A robot playing Offense gains a three point bonus for colliding with another robot, even if that collision was not 'caused' by said robot (e.g., if you play offense and they rear end your robot, you still get the six point bonus and the round ends).
  • A collision means any part, connected or not, of one robot contacting any part of another robot.
  • If a round would end in a tie, then the robot in the fewest number of connected components (e.g., a robot that throws out three blocks would have four connected components: the three blocks and the main body) wins (this means that robots that shoot projectiles lose ties). If the round ends in a tie and both robots have the same number of connected components, then the winner is chosen by coin flip, unless the score is 0-0, in which case both lose.

Collision Matrix (what happens if A collides with B)
 A \ B
 Offense   Defense
Off/Def with Power Pellet
 Offense round ends
 +3 points for A; round ends
 B wins
 Defense +3 points for B; round ends
 nothing B wins
 Off/Def with Power Pellet
 A wins
 A wins

Rule FAQ

Must our robot follow the maze, or can it go over the walls?
You can go over the walls.

Can our robot destroy the walls?
No, destroying the walls will get you disqualified at the referees' discretion. Don't try it.

Can our robot go outside of the outer walls?
Yes, but what do you hope to accomplish?

If our robot throws lego confetti at the other robot and hits it, does that count as a collision?

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.

Reference Robot Design (capable of eating a few pellets)

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.
Brian Becker,
Aug 18, 2009, 10:22 PM
Pras Velagapudi,
Aug 4, 2009, 9:31 PM
Pyry Matikainen,
Aug 20, 2009, 9:32 PM