A team of five undergraduates from Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya will be representing Sri Lanka at the ABU-Asia Pacific Robot Contest 2014 which will be held at Pune, India for five days starting from 24th of August.
Here is a short interview with the members of the team about the contest and the details about the robots designed by them.
- First of all, tell us something about the competition and its theme.
The Asia-Pacific Robot Contest (ABU Robocon) is an Asian Oceanian College robot competition, founded in 2002 by Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union. This is a competition in which teams of college students develop robots to undertake predefined tasks within a given period of time. The event is usually broadcast in many countries through ABU member broadcasters. (ITN is the ABU member broadcaster for Sri Lanka).
- How was a team selected to represent Sri Lanka for the international contest?
Domestic competition to select a team for the international contest was held a few months back and many teams representing state universities in the country took part. The winners were selected based on a project proposal on the robot design. And this year, the project proposal submitted by the team representing our university was selected as the best proposal. It should be mentioned that this is the 3rd consecutive year in which the team representing University of Peradeniya won the domestic level ROBOCON competition.
- Tell us about your team.
Kasun Siriwardene (Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering), Umesh Ranathunga (Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering), Kavindu Fernando (Department of Mechanical Engineering), Ranga Madushanka (Department of Production Engineering) and Sanchitha Haputhanthri (Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering) will represent Sri Lanka at ABU Robocon 2014.
- Let’s talk a little about the nature of the game this time.
Each year the competition has a different Theme declared by the host country. This time, the theme is ‘A salute to parenthood’ with the message that parenthood is the greatest benefit offered to mankind by nature. Robocon India honours parents for their immense contribution by announcing the Robocon 2014 theme as: “A SALUTE TO PARENTHOOD”.
Each team has to guide two robots (a manual robot and an auto robot) where the two robots are defines as a father and a son. There is a specific game field for the two robots to move and the zones of the field are named based upon the themes. The game field is set to complete three tasks: playing a see-saw, climbing up a ladder and the pole walk. The father (Manual robot) has to guide the son (Auto robot) complete each of these tasks. The time given for a team to complete these three activities is three minutes.
- Let’s talk about the designing of these robots too.
We used the same mechanical structure used by team Pera at the previous contest (Robocon 2013) as the basic structure of our robots. The hardware of the robots was designed by Kasun and Sanchitha while Umesh took care of the software development. Ranga and myself (Kavindu) worked on the mechanical design of the robots.
First I will talk about the Manual robot. As I mentioned earlier we used the structure developed by the team that represented Sri Lanka last year. The structure was developed with steel and aluminum to ensure the strength of the robot while keeping the weight of the structure under the defined limits. Both the robots are required to move in all the directions with smooth motion. For this purpose they had used four “mechanum wheels” with one motor for each of the wheels. These motors control the speed and the direction of the movements.
When considering the manual robot control, it is completely controlled by a remote controller. This remote controller generates the actuating signals to initiate operation. The motors attached to the wheels are controlled with four motor controllers. Two more motor controllers are used to control the position of the main arm of the robot and to adjust the angle of the gun, respectively. All these motor controllers are controlled from the remote controller.
- What technologies and strategies did you use when making the auto robot?
When talking about the Auto robot, the entire structure had been designed using Aluminum to reduce the weight of the robot. However to move the arms in the auto robot a motor had been used. This robot is completely controlled through a computer, aided by software. This software was specifically designed by us to match the tasks assigned. Communication between the software and the robot is facilitated by two interface boards: one to control the arms and the other to control the motors.
- Also, we would like to have your ideas on the experiences you gained through this contest.
First of all we must say that it was a challenge. It was a dream that we had to make come true. We had to rush to it, since we didn’t have a lot of time left. It wasn’t easy. We had a lot to learn and it was quite a different exposure. We went forward through the ‘trial and error’ method which was again a difficult task. But in the end, under many circumstances, we managed to achieve our target and it was quite the privileged to be a part of the team. And also I should mention about the support and guidance we had from the academic staff as well as our seniors. It was a huge learning experience to share their ideas and past experiences regarding to the field of robotics.
- Finally, tell us who would you like to thank, for helping you to make your work a success?
We must thank the dean of Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya Prof.Leelananda Rajapakse, Dr.Parakrama Ekanayake (Senior Lecturer,Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Senior Treasurer – Robotics club) for his enormous support and guidance through out the entire project, Dr.D.H.S.Maithripala (Senior Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering), Harin Bannahaka (President – Robotics Society), Nilanka Sandaruwan (Vice President – Robotics Society), Mr.Isuru Rivi (Past President – Robotics Society), Dinusha Gunathilake (E07), Sajith Samarasena (E09), Kelum Madhusanka (E10), all the department heads, Mr.Sirisena (Workshop Engineer), Mr.Egodawatte (Workshop Technician), Mr.Kumara (Technician – Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering) and all others who helped us to make this project a success.
On behalf of the Faculty of Engineering the editors wish you good luck to bring pride to University of Peradeniya as well as to Sri Lanka at ABU Robocon 2014.
Reporter and Interviewer Naveena Jayarathne First Year, Faculty of Engineering, University of Peradeniya.