The Western Duel

by Virginia Butler & Lisa Lapman

Our idea was simple: cowboys and an old fashioned western gunfight. The two robots would appear to be leaving a saloon (obviously in a huff) and duke it out in the streets, man to man.

They turn back to back, and to the theme of "The Lone Ranger", begin their paces away from the center. Once at a reasonable distance apart, they face their opponent, draw, and fire. Which one will be the victor, no one knows--due to a procedure in our program that randomizes the amount of time the two cowboys wait until they draw. But we do know that whichever one loses will play "Taps," and bend at the hip in a pathetic slumped position.

The way that the robots move is a mixture of two strategies: timing and proximity sensors. It is important to note the great care that was taken to create a cowboy with moving appendages. The legs--while not powered by a motor--are still able to move via a gear train that is attached to a wheel that rotates as the robot moves forward on its motorized wheels. While the robots are traveling forward, they are programmed to move for a certain amount of time, which we have tested through trial and error to gain the correct distance. Next, while the robots are turning back to back, the two only stop their turn when a proximity sensor (placed in the front and center of the robot) senses the presence of a piece of black electrical tape. They then begin a second timed stretch of travel, and then finish off with a one hundred and eighty degree turn that ends when the proximity sensor senses the same black line.

Our robots come complete with moving arms as well. When the random amount of time has passed for our cowboys, the motor that powers the arms to move is turned on, and the guns are raised. While this is occurring, an infrared transmitter is sending a signal to the opposing handy-board, giving the message for the other robot to die and play "Taps."