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Student-Designed Autonomous Robot ‘Googly Eyes’ Wins 2012 Design Competition

2012 Undergraduate Design Competition

“The year is 2012, and the apocalypse foretold by the Mayans has come to pass … Robots roam the desolate planet, competing to collect the scarce supply crates left behind. … Whichever bot can stockpile the most supplies will come out on top!”

It might sound like the plot of a sci-fi B-movie. Actually, it was the premise for “End of the World,” the McCormick School of Engineering’s 2012 Undergraduate Design Competition, an annual event in which autonomous robots duke it out while their code-writing creators cheer them on.

Ten teams of Northwestern students — many of them students in the DSGN 360 course — took part in the 21st annual event on Saturday, May 19 at the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center.

Team Googly Eyes, the competition's first-place winner.The undergraduates, representing a variety of engineering fields, spent months designing, building and programming their robots to operate autonomously. The robots are made up of various parts, including microprocessors, actuators, motors, gears, and electronic sensors. Remote controls are not permitted, though teams may reprogram robots as often as desired.

This year the robots competed two at a time in a large rectangular arena, with each trying to collect foam cubes, or “crates,” that had been placed strategically throughout the space. The robots were tasked with placing the crates into their team’s scoring zone, an 18-inch square platform that — to make matters more challenging — slid back and forth throughout the match.

Robots scored points in three ways: by depositing the crates on their opponents’ side; by pushing the crates into their own scoring zone; and by lifting and shooting a crate into their own bonus zone. Any crates left on their side of the arena but not in the scoring zone counted against the team at the end of the match.

The top-scoring teams were:

1st Place: Team “Googly Eyes,” with team members Lyndon Sapozhnik and Michael Chen
2nd Place: Team “Brobotics,” with team members Sam Schwartz and Jake Vander Ploeg
3rd Place: Team “better than disCasa,” with team members Gabriel Peal, Kashif Malik, Rose Gruenhagen, and Chloe Logan

The Myke Minbiole Elegant Engineering Award was awarded to Team “Googly Eyes.”

The 2012 Design Competition was sponsored by SpaceX and DMC.