Engineering Now :: Volume 5 - Edition 5 :: February 2009

Mechatronics robots come to life

By Nancy Quaegebeur


Fourth-year mechatronic students have been busy. Beginning back in October 2008, Tara Bracken, Chris Fischer, Simon Deluce and Brent Biro began working on their final robot project in anticipation for the competition held on the evening of December 1, 2008. They spent many long days, often putting in 10 plus hours in the mechatronics lab completing their robot. The week prior to the competition they began testing their robot on the final course to work out all the ‘bugs’ and fine-tune their design.

On competition day, the robots were put to the final test by completing a course. The course was on a 2.4m square table covered with loose gravel (which greatly interfered with traction and movability) and there were three arbitrarily placed towers that emitted a unique infrared signal. At the base of one tower was a tray heaped with crystals and the other two towers acted as a drop-off point. One drop off point was an open bucket with a high lip requiring the robot to reach in order to drop off crystals. The other drop-off point was a bucket with a sealed lid and a small hole on the topside where crystals could be delivered. Points were awarded in such that crystals deposited in the sealed lid bucket were worth twice that of the open bucket. Each team was given two minutes to complete the course and three trials. As Tara Bracken pointed out “given our time constraints, we elected to go for the larger open bucket and maximize the number of crystals we could transport.”

The Mechatronics lab was standing room only for the competition. Professors, present and past Mechatronics students, industry representatives, friends and families were all in attendance to view this event. In the end, the team’s robot transported 44, 38 and 45 crystals respectively for their three trials. The next best team (on their best run) was able to move only 9 crystals, still a great accomplishment but nowhere near Tara and her team’s winning robot design.

The team would like to thank Professor Naish for running the competition and for giving them a challenge that encouraged creativity and forced them to draw on many branches of engineering (mechanical, electrical and computer) to design a working prototype.

Also from this web page:


.: Allison Stevenson
Spencer Engineering Building, Room 2074
Phone: (519) 850-2917 Fax: (519) 661-3808