Digging for “Gold”: TechSoc Manual Robotics


Manual RoboticsThe annual TechSoc Manual Robotics competition was held on 5th October at SAC. The event began at 5.30 pm and went on through the evening. This year’s task was to make a ‘Gold Miner’. Due to the obvious unavailability of gold, Cosco tennis balls were used instead. Two teams were pitted against each other in a race to collect a maximum number of balls in the stipulated time of five minutes.

The participants had begun working on their robots more than a week before the competition, making use of the computer rooms and reading rooms in their hostels for this purpose. Some Technical Secretaries from senior hostels went to freshie hostels and helped the first years make their robots. This was done to ensure that the freshie hostels didn’t have a disadvantage due to lack of experience and to put every team on equal footing.

The rules of the game were simple. Each team controlled two robots — Bot A and Bot B. Bot A had to descend down a ramp into ‘Zone A’ and free Bot-B by tilting a see-saw. Bot-B, after being freed from the ‘Start Zone’, had to proceed through a passage by crossing a hurdle 15 cm high. The main function of each Bot was to transfer tennis balls from their respective ball zones to their respective balances. A game area of specific dimensions (5000 x5000) was specially designed for the purpose of this game. Points could be scored in many ways. Overcoming certain obstacles placed in the playing area received points. Points were also awarded for each ball dropped in the balance. Teams incurred penalties for pulling on their bots and for touching the balls. Each game lasted five minutes.

The teams had come up with wildly varying solutions. For instance, Pampa’s Bot had a robotic arm to manually pick up Cosco balls. Ganga’s Bot included an empty two litre bottle which used a suction mechanism to pull the balls in which would later slide through the bottle and into the balance. Another team used a rake-like mechanism to scoop up the balls. Mandakini’s Bots used a conventional clamp.

The first round was a round robin where the teams got to play two matches each. At the end of the round, the top two teams of the round, Pampa – A and Mandakini automatically qualified for the semi-finals while the next four teams battled it out for a place in the semis.  Pampa-B and Ganga beat the competition (Alakananda and Pampa-C) to secure their place in the semis.

When the semi final draw was out, Ganga faced Mandakini while Pampa A and B found themselves facing each other. The Pampa teams protested against this draw and a system of drawing chits was settled upon. Much to Pampa’s dismay, this yielded the same result. Mandakini and Pampa – A triumphed over their respective opponents to reach the finals. Ganga and Pampa -B battled it out for the third position and Ganga won the battle

Mandakini faced off against Pampa – A in the finals. Mandakini operated its robots with great speed, putting Pampa under pressure. Pampa’s second Bot was also toppling frequently and just before its first Bot could drop four balls into the balance, the time was up and Mandakini emerged the clear winner with the scores being 175 to 100.


1st Position – Mandakini
2nd Position – Pampa A
3rd Position – Ganga
4th Position – Pampa B
5th position – Jamuna

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