Day 11: First Robotics Project

Friday, September 21, 2018

The robotics class consists of nine students in grades 11 and 12. A few have prior programming experience and none have robotics experience. This week, I asked them to make their robot autonomously drive around a square. Success looked a little different around the room but for everyone, this project highlighted the downside of navigation-by-dead-reckoning.


One student, struggling with repeatability on the dusty floors said she’d love to be able to trace out where the robot had been. We taped a marker to her robot and voilá, we had a spirograph. Based on this, I’d say her robot was repeatable but under-turning.

Problems they experienced:

  • over time, the wheels picked up dirt from the floor and began to slip
  • turns that are slightly off the 90° ideal have compounding error
  • the front caster wheel doesn’t turn consistently

We had a blast watching each robot run around the square. Here’s a supercut of the robots performing their task (stick around for the end with the whiteboard marker robot):

Next up, we’ll learn to install an ultrasonic sensor and the course will get walls to aid in navigation.


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