by Virginia Butler & Lisa
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
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
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."