Edward M. Grinnell ’11 won the 2009 2.007 design competition last Thursday with a robot that stacked bales of “trash.” Pablo J. Bello ’11 was the runner up, losing in the final round by two points. Grinnell and the three other top finishers won a trip to Tokyo for the International Design Contest, to be held in August. All top four finishers received cash prizes and full licenses to SolidWorks. Grinnell received the extra prize of being carried by 2.007 professor Daniel D. Frey PhD ’97 for a victory lap.
The theme of the competition was “WALL-E,” the robot from the popular Disney/Pixar film. Robots were supposed to be environmentally friendly and perform the same junkyard tasks that WALL-E performed in the movie. The robots could score points by collecting cans and crushing them, bringing crushed or pre-crushed cans back home, or bringing bales of trash (blocks) to their designated location. Robots only had to be designed to accomplish one of the three main tasks to score points. They could also tussle over a plant to bring it closer to their side of the battle arena, which would multiply their score.
In a new twist this year, the robots were on their own for the first ten seconds of every round, relying only on their sensors and their programming. This was also the first year that teams used compressed air to crush the soda cans.
The robots designed to crush cans were eliminated early because they could not crush enough cans to score well. Most students, like Grinnell, made robots to push bales into a designated area. Only one robot was designed to bring pre-crushed cans back home.
A few robots were able to stack bales, which was worth more points. Several machines attempted to prevent opponents from scoring, which made matches more dramatic. Frey’s narration during the runs added to the fun. He brought his children to the match and introduced them to the crowd. Frey remained focused on his mission of educating the children in the audience throughout the event, and he periodically checked if they had questions.
On the sidelines, audience members were able to drive an expressive robot built by Amy Qian ’11. The Electric Vehicle Team and the Formula SAE Team, both involved with 2.007 this year, were on the sidelines to present their work to audience members.