There may be an art to sumo wrestling, but robotic sumo is all science.
Students in the advanced robotics class at Hart-Ransom Academic Charter School have been learning about EV3 Lego Mindstorm robots this year and demonstrated some mind-over-muscle skills in a table-top tournament Thursday.
In a room buzzing with the excitement of students and parents, pairs of wheeled robots built and programmed by teams of kids faced off in rings of combat. The goal was to flip the opposing team's robot or push it more than halfway out of the ring.
Such a win was worth three points, while a tie gave each team one point, said teacher Heidi Giordano.
These were no simple remote-control battles. "It's all coding and programming," Giordano said. Each robot had to be programmed to detect its opponent and simultaneously not leave the combat ring.
Students used light and color sensors on their robots to read the map printed on the game surface. "The light sensors are detecting reflected light from the map, looking for shades of black. There's an inner circle and an outer circle, and the robots had to be programmed to ignore the inner circle."
The robots also have ultrasonic sensors, Giordano said, and the students programmed them to react when they sense an opponent. A robot would keeps it front flipping prongs raised to spin freely without hitting anything, she said, then, when its opponent is in front of it, lower its prongs and move into position.
Sometimes, robots would lock in a circular dance. Occasionally, a prong would snap off. As in human sumo, there was a lot of pushing. Flips weren't common, Giordano said, but there were a few.