A Brief History of ELEC 201

Humble Beginnings - Summer 1994

In the summer of 1994, Dr. John K. Bennet decided to teach the famous MIT 6.270 robot building class at Rice University. After looking at the 6.270 materials, he decided to modify the controller board to his own tastes. With the help of three student assistants, a new robot controller was designed, laid out, and produced. The Rice RoboBoard was born!

The First Robot Competition - December 1994

The game for the first semester was called "Capture the Robo-Flag". It was played on a 4x6 foot board. Each robot scored points by collecting foam blocks on the opposite side of the board and placing them into a bin on its own side. One of these blocks was harder to find than the others, and was called the "flag".

On the day of the competition, two robots proved themselves far better than the rest of the pack. One was a masterpiece of software engineering, the other, of hardware. The software masterpiece was known as Humpty ED 210. It seemed able, by its excellent programming, to get out of any predicament. The other was Mr. Tickle, a robot with an arm designed to reach out and grab the flag from the other side of the board, a task it seemed to never fail.

In a double elimination competition, these two robots met in the final round with no losses for either. After they defeated each other once, Mr. Tickle finally won in the last match.

The Second Robot Competition - December 1995

The game for the second semester was named "Robo-Basketball", in honor of the back-to-back world champion Houston Rockets. The two robots were placed at one end of a 4x6 foot board. They each had a bin of balls directly across from them, and a netted basket directly behind them. The object was to collect the balls and either place them or shoot them into the basket, shooting being worth more points.

The competition was again double elimination, but this time three robots were far ahead of the pack. All three robots used a similar scooping mechanism to get the balls, but all three had a different way of putting them into the basket. One robot, called Majik used a conveyor belt. Another, NP-Complete, would shoot the balls using a rubber-band propelled cannon. The final one, Flashback Broccoli, simply flipped up its scooper to throw the balls into the basket. When all three of these robots reached the end with no losses, it was decided they should face each other in a round robin final. In the end, the simplicity of Flashback Broccoli conquered.

Last modified: Mon Apr 8 15:28:46 CDT 1996