Fire-Fighting Robot Contest

A team of engineering students have come together to implement and build a computer controlled fire fighting robot that can move through a mode floor plan structure of a house, find a lit candle and then extinguish it in the shortest time possible. This robot will simulate a real-world operation of a robot performing a fire security function in an actual home on a simulated floor plan and fire. The specification and restrictions for the contest are major factor in the design process of the robot, its control, and its body.

1) Contest Objective

The main challenge of this contest is to build an autonomous computer-controlled robot that can find its way through an arena that represents a model house, find a lit candle that represents a fire in the house, and extinguish the fire in the shortest time. This task simulates the real-world operation of an autonomous robot performing a fire protection function in a real house. The goal of the contest is to advance robot technology and knowledge while using robotics as an educational tool.

2) Dimensions and Specifications

The goal of the contest is to make a robot that can operate successfully in the real world, not just in the laboratory. Such a robot must be able to operate successfully where there is uncertainty and imprecision. Therefore, the dimensions and specifications listed in the rules are not exactly what will be encountered at the contest and they are provided as general aids. However, the size limits on robots are absolute and will be enforced by the judges.

3) Divisions

JUNIOR MIDDLE SCHOOL – Must follow the rule marked with an * symbol.

JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL – Must follow the rules marked with an * and ** symbols

SENIOR – must follow all the rules stated

4) Robot Operation

*Once turned on, the robot must be autonomous--self-controlled without any human intervention. That is, they are to be computer controlled and not manually controlled devices.

*A robot may bump into or touch the walls of the arena as it travels, but it cannot mark, dislodge or damage the walls in doing so. There will not be a penalty for touching a wall, but there is a penalty for moving along the wall while in contact with it. The robot cannot leave anything behind as it travels through the arena. It cannot make any marks on the floor of the arena that aid in navigation as it travels. Any robot that deliberately, in the judges' opinion, damages the contest arena (including the walls) will be disqualified. This does not include any accidental marks or scratches made in moving around.

*The robot must, in the opinion of the judges, have found the candle before it attempts to put it out. For example, the robot cannot just flood the arena structure with CO2 thereby putting the candle out by accident.

5) Putting Out the Candle

*The robot must not use any destructive or dangerous methods to put out the candle. It may use such substances as water, air, CO2, etc., but any method or material that is dangerous or will damage the arena is prohibited. Halon is not allowed because it is harmful to the environment.

*It will be permissible to put out the candle by blowing air or other oxygen-bearing gas. However, this is not a practical method of extinguishing a fire in the real world. So, robots that do not use air streams to blow out the candle will receive a 15% time reduction.

**A penalty is given to robots that touch a lit candle. Such penalty touches can be made by the robot itself or by one or more of the robot's sensors.

The robot must come within 30 cm of the candle before it attempts to extinguish the flame. There will be a white 30 cm radius solid circle (or circle segment, if a wall is in the way) on the floor around the candle and the robot must have some part of its body over the circle before it puts out the candle. The candle will be placed in the center of the circle.

6) Robot Size

*Robot must be able to fit in a box 31 cm long by 31 cm wide by 27 cm high. If the robot has feelers to sense an object or wall, the feelers will be counted as part of the robot's total dimensions. The robot cannot separate into multiple parts and must never extend itself beyond the 31 cm allowed. (Separating robots are allowed in the Expert Division.)

7) Robot Weight

There are no restrictions on the weight of the robot.

8) Robot Construction Material

There are no restrictions on the types of materials used in the construction of the robot

9) The Candle

The candle flame will be from 15 cm to 20 cm above the nominal floor level. The candle thickness normally will be between 2 cm and 3 cm. The exact height and size of the flame will change throughout the contest depending upon the condition of candle and its surroundings. The robot is required to find the candle no matter what the size of the flame is at that particular moment.

The candle will be placed at random in one of the rooms in the arena. The candle has an equal chance of being in any of the 4 rooms in each of the robot's 3 trials. It is possible for the candle to be in the same room on two of the robot's three runs. If it happens that the candle is placed in the same room for both the 1st and 2nd trials, then the contest officials will make sure that it is a different room for the third and last trial. Thus every robot will have the candle in at least 2 rooms and possibly 3, during its 3 trials.

The candle will not be placed in a hallway, but it might be placed just inside a doorway of a room. The candle circle will not touch the doorway line and this means that the front of the robot will be able to move at least 33 cm into the room before it encounters the candle.

The contestants cannot measure or touch the candle before it is used. Violation will result in immediate disqualification from the competition of the team and the robot.

The candle will be mounted on a small black painted. This base is used to help keep the candle from tipping over easily, but it will be possible to knock the candle over by bumping into it

10) Sensors

There is no restriction on the type of sensors that can be used as long as they do not violate any of the other rules or regulations. Robots that use laser-based devices must take measures to prevent eye damage to team members and to observers. If effective safety measures have not been taken, in the opinion of the qualification judges, the robot will not be allowed to qualify for the competition. The judges may require the team to remove the laser device from the robot.

*Contestants are not allowed to place any markers, beacons or reflectors on the walls or floors to aid in the robot's navigation.

Robot builders should be aware that many cameras transmit infrared light as part of their automatic focusing systems. Ambient lighting in the contest room may also be a source of IR, visible and UV light. During the course of the contest, sunlight may come into the contest room through open outside doors. The sunlight will not shine directly on the arenas, but may be detectable by very sensitive sensors. During the course of the contest, judges at other arenas may be lighting candles or lighters. These incidental flames will be above the arena and further away than the candle, but still may be detectable by an undiscriminating sensor. In setting up the arena, contest officials may put their arms into the arena and some very sensitive sensors may mistake that IR emission as the flame. If a robot uses light sensors to find the candle or detect walls or furniture, it is the robot builder's responsibility to design their robot to prevent these and other unintended UV, visible and IR sources from interfering with its operation. Part of the challenge of this contest is to design a robot that can find the candle flame and ignore everything else.

11) Electricity

*The maximum electrical requirements for any system needing electricity at the arena will be 10 amps at 120 VAC, 60 Hz.

12) Order of the Running

The robots will be assigned numbers to determine the order in which they will compete in the contest. Each robot will make a trial run in the arena in the order in which it is assigned. The robots will compete consecutively and when everyone is done with their first attempt the whole process will repeat for the second and third attempts.

Contestants will have time between their trials to make any adjustments, modifications or repairs to their robot, but once the robot before them has completed its trial, then they will have 1 minute to get their robot in the arena and started on its trial. There will be a special clock at each arena that the judges will start when they call for the next contestants to get ready. The robot must begin its trial before that clock reaches 1 minute. Any robot that is not ready to run after 1 minute will forfeit its chance at that trial. It may still compete in any other trials. Once assigned, the order of running will not be changed. If you are not ready, then you've missed your turn. The time between turns is undetermined and is controlled by how long the other competitors take to complete their trials.

The contestants will show a judge how to start the robot.

Once the robot is ready and the judge knows how to start it, the location of the candle, maze, and dog, as appropriate, shall be determined. The judges will then place these objects in proper locations.

13) Time Limits

In order to achieve the contest objective of building a robot that can find and extinguish a fire in a house, finding the fire within a reasonable period of time is very important. The maximum time limit for a robot to find the candle will be 5 minutes. After 5 minutes the trial will be stopped. If in any trial, a robot gets stuck in a loop and performs the same movement 5 times in a row, that trial will be stopped. Any time the robot does not move at all for 30 seconds, the trial will be stopped. Stopping a trial run for any of the above reasons will have no impact on any of the other two trial runs that the robot has.

14) Scoring

The robot with the lowest Final Score (FS) is the winner. The Final Score is calculated from a number of different factors, which are explained below. The scoring process is not as complicated as it might seem at first. It is intended to make the contest as realistic and as fair as possible.

15) Penalties

The goal of this contest is to be as realistic as possible. Continuous contact of the robot with a wall for the purposes of navigation, or touching the candle, are not illegal but they are not good operating procedures for the real world (see A. and B. below). Penalty Points (PP) will be added to the Actual Time (AT) of any robot that exhibits these behaviors. Don't let these penalties scare you too much. These penalties are generally a small price to pay for a robot that manages to accomplish the task.

Continuous Contact With a Wall: Any robot that slides along a wall will have an additional penalty point 1 point (1 second) added to its time score for each 2 cm of wall it touches as it slides along. A robot may still touch a wall to orient itself.

Touching the candle: Any robot that touches the candle or its base with any part of its body or feeler, either deliberately or accidentally while the candle is lit, will have 50 penalty points (seconds) added to its Actual Time score each time the candle is hit. If the touch occurs as part of the actual extinguishing process (i.e. smothering the flame with a wet sponge) or after the candle is extinguished, there is no penalty. This touching refers only to a part of the robot's body and does not include any water, air or other material that the robot might use to extinguish the candle. (PP = 50)

16) Maze Dimensions

The maze is 8ftx8ft with 4 rooms.

Hallways are 46cm wide

Door openings are 46cm wide

Walls are 19cm thick and 27cm to 34 cm tall

There will be a stuffed dog placed in the hallway in one of the locations above.

The light colored wall in Room 1 can move up to the other wall in the room. Room 4 can rotate 180 degrees.

Robots will start on a white circle where the orange H is on the figure above.