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The task

Your robot is expected to move around the lab and collect as many resources (boxes) as it can and bring them to a predetermined base. Each resource will be a box with a predefined texture. The arena may also contain resources which are not supposed to be collected by the robot. These boxes may be marked with a different pattern or be found in a particular location in the arena. The base will be a three dimensional structure. The location of the resources and the bases will random for each run. The robot should use the camera to identify the resources and determine the robot position in the arena. There will always be resources and bases for two teams in the arena. There will be only one robot in the arena during the preliminary rounds, however, two robots will be competing at the same time during the final rounds.

In order to complete the task the robot must be able to determine its location within the arena. The task will be run with the window blinds at one end of the lab open, and the other end closed. This will create a light gradient that the robots can potentially use for a rough sense of direction but this will be insufficient to complete the task! Your robot should be able to cope with the change in light intensity between sunny and cloudy days.

In the final tests, if more than one robot collects all the resources within the allowed time, the robot that does so fastest will be the winner.

Test area

The test area layout.

Landmark images:


Homebase Locations:

Monday Homebase - Located in the "Queen" section  of the arena

Thursday Homebase - Located in the "Tiger" section of the arena

Resource images -

Marking scheme

The marking scheme for the course is:
Exam - 50%
Homework - 10%
Practical - 40%

The breakup of the marking scheme for the practical:

  • Each milestone will be marked on the day based on quality of the demonstrated material.
  • With each milestone (1 to 4), each GROUP will submit a short report describing their implementation using bullet points (one report per group).

The marking per milestone:

  • Milestone 1 - 3%

  • Milestone 2 - 6%

  • Milestone 3 - 6%

  • Milestone 4 - 7%

  • Final competition- 6%


  • In the final 3% will be assigned for working integration of the elements from the milestones.
  • The finalists of the competition will get 3%, 2% and 1% of the mark for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
  • The report will be submitted INDIVIDUALLY by each student (NO group submissions).

The report will be marked as follows:

  • Evaluation - 6% (Individual analysis of the performance and choices made throughout the design process)
  • Writing - 6% (this includes, quality of the description of the methods used, clarity and completeness, justification of methods used)
  • All marks are percentage of the total mark for the whole course.

The final report will be written individually and it will contain complete description of the robot developed during the course. The milestone reports will be reused and expanded upon in the final report. This is where the overlap between work done by individual team members will be present and permitted. The rest of the report will be completely individual, e.g. introduction, problem description,evaluation, conclusion.


Note: Subsequent tasks must include subtasks you have completed in the previous weeks. For example, a robot able to identify the resources should still be able to avoid obstacles.


1. Build a robot able to navigate and avoid obstacles  (by week 3)

  • Suitable mechanical design.
  • Forward and turning motion.
  • Autonomous operation - no connection to the network.
  • Obstacle avoidance.
  • Recovery when obstacle avoidance fails.
  • Avoid getting stuck

2. Localisation and homing  (by week 5)

  • Autonomous operation – no connection to the network.
  • Detect unique features in the environment.
  • Based on the features determine robot position.
  • Perform homing at the base
  • Collision avoidance and fault recovery.
  • Detect the correct base, perform visual servoing (homing).

Additional information

  • Your robot starts at a random position and starts exploring the environment for a fixed period measured in seconds.
  • You should attempt to implement a localisation and mapping algorithm. (You don't have to implement a SLAM algorithm, you can perform navigation by landmarks, based on the specifics of the environment. You are given prior knowledge about the arena.)
  • If you are choosing to implement an elaborate mapping method it will help to assess the progress you are making if you can record and display the map the robot has created at the end of the exercise. You will also find this useful to include in your final report.
  • Once the robot has been able to identify it's approximate location it should attempt to return to the home base.

3. Object recognition  (by week 7)

  • Autonomous operation - no connection to the network.
  • Detect the resource using vision.
  • Correctly identify the correct resource by appearance and location (binary decision: is this my resource = true/false).
  • You are free to use whatever you like to separate the enemy/own resources but the more sophisticated use of techniques that you have studied in class will earn you more points on the final report.
  • Simple action based on resource (e.g. move forward), no need to pick up the resource yet.

4. Visual servoing (by week 9)

  • Autonomous operation - no connection to the network.
  • Perform homing as described in Task 2
  • Perform resource identification as described in Task 3
  • After identifying the correct resource your robot should be able to pick it up and deliver it to the home base.

Practical times

Mondays 11.00 - 13.00 (AT 3.01)

Thursdays 11.00 - 13.00 (AT 3.01)

The time allocated for practicals will be used to assess the milestone (subtask) completion, for discussion and resolving issues. The work on the robots is intended to be done mainly outside the practical times. Please respect other classes that might be having practicals in the lab.

Final competition marking


  • Find resource and correctly identify it (clear attempt to pick up the box): 20 points
  • Pick up the resource: 10 points
  • Find the base (clear attempt at homing): 10 points
  • Deliver the resource to the base: 50 points


  • Falling LEGO pieces: -10 points
  • Interfering with the robots: -20 points
  • Picking up an incorrect resource: -10 points
  • Delivering an incorrect resource: -30 
  • Delivering a resource to the incorrect base: -10

Advice on writing final report

Note that most of the marks for the practicals come from the write-up of the final report. It may help to think of this as a (short) equivalent of how robot projects are reported in scientific papers, for example. Here's an outline of what your report should contain:

Title: A 4-12 word title that would allow an unfamiliar reader to know what your report is about.

Abstract: You MUST preface the report with a 100-200 word summary of what it contains. This is usually easier to write when you have finished the report. It should briefly explain the task, the approach used, the results and the conclusions drawn. Avoid making entirely generic statements that could apply to almost anything, e.g., (BAD) "This report describes the construction of a robot to perform a task. We describe the design decisions and outline the control program, then explain the results and possible improvements". Instead make it specific to what you have done, e.g., (GOOD) "We have built a robot capable of searching for and recognising special locations in a lab environment. It uses two IR sensors to avoid obstacles, and a low cost camera to recognise resources and target locations, as well as a sonar sensor for navigation. We implement a subsumption control architecture. The robot was tested in five time trials and was able to locate an average of 4 resources and 3 target locations within that time. The main limitation was that our robot was unable to reliably plan its route to the next location but relied on random search".

Introduction: This should explain the task, and give an overview of how you approached it. In a normal scientific report this would include reference to previous work (your own or others). You are not required in this case to refer to other work (although you may wish to do so if for example something you read about influenced your approach to the task). So this section is likely to be quite short (400 words).

Methods: A good rule of thumb here is that someone reading your report should be able to replicate your approach. So you need to provide a good description of the physical architecture, particularly the type, number and position of sensors and actuators. Include labelled photographs or diagrams, and make sure the dimensions are clear. Comment on factors that led to the design, explaining the decisions you made. For the control program you should provide a flow diagram or pseudo-code description, and again explain the reasoning that led to this solution. This is likely to be the longest section of the report. Do not include code except for short snippets that help explain a crucial part of the program you created. Avoid repetition and refer to other peoples' work instead of describing well known algorithms. (1400 words)

Results: This should contain some quantitative evaluation of the robot performance. For example: that it can find a resource site from a disance of x metres, and recognise and leave within t seconds; etc. If your robot is not capable of doing the final task, you should evaluate what it does do correctly, and try to analyse what it does wrong. The reader should be left with an accurate understanding of exactly what your robot is capable of, even if this is not as good as you hoped. Bad results are results too. You get marked based on how you approached the problem and how you evaluated the results. (800 words)

Discussion: Start by summarising the results, and giving your evaluation of how well it works. Explain what you think were the most successful elements of your approach, and what was less successful. Include ideas about how the system could be improved. (200 words)

Length: The final report should be no more than 3000 words long. It can be shorter if you think that you can do a satisfactory description in fewer words.


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