Mechatronics and robotic competition in the legendary design race for first-year students of the mechatronics and robotics program, the Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences set its focus on a hot technology topic: autonomous driving.
Two months to design a functioning vehicle for the mechatronics and robotic competition
The new students had exactly two months time to design, build and program a functioning vehicle capable of autonomously maneuvering through a pre-defined giant slalom located in the entrance hall of the Sontheim campus.
Also in attendance was Schunk, the Lauffen-based gripping systems and clamping technology specialist who was providing the prize money.
The slalom course for the flat vehicles
The flat vehicles had a maximum of 120 seconds to maneuver through the slalom course, which had also set limits in terms of height.
Manual interventions were only permitted at the start of the race, and the vehicles had to manage everything else autonomously.
A diverse range of solutions was attempted, including everything from ultrasonic and infrared sensors to clock circuits.
…and the winner is…
The top spot on the winners’ podium went to “Mister T”, a sensorless vehicle that automatically redirected itself after 20 wheel rotations, allowing it to quickly and successfully maneuver through the course.
A special award for the most creative approach was presented to the “Smart Monkeys” team, whose vehicle swung like an ape from pole to pole.
Ideal opportunity to gain practical experience uniting mechanics, electronics and IT
“The task was designed to encompass the fields of mechanics, electronics and IT,” explained Prof. Dr. Michael Widmann, under whose auspices the contest was held.
Especially for new students, this presented the ideal opportunity to gain practical experience through a playful approach without the pressure of an exam, including all of the challenges involved.
The competitions over the past several years show that about one third of the participating teams fall short of success during the competition.
The advice for the next generation of competitors
The main reason for this is often that too little time is planned for test driving, reported Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wehl, who helped conduct the competition and was a member of the jury along with Michael Widmann, Herbert Streit, Andreas Müller and Schunk Development Engineer Michael Franz.
At the end of the race, Patrick Berkefeld, chief designer for the winning team, had some crucial advice for the next generation of competitors, “The task is definitely achievable, but you have to constantly work toward it. Every day counts and most importantly, the documentation takes a lot of time. Be sure to plan enough time for that!“
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