The Inspiration Behind FELIX

We designed FELIX for the Trinity College Firefighting Competition. In the contest, robots have to find their way through a simple maze to find a candle and extinguish it. We may expand FELIX to do all these things during second semester, but for now he just finds and extinguishes the candle when the candle is within range.

Most of the robots in the Trinity College Firefighting Competition use a fan to blow out the candle. We wanted to use a more creative strategy. Therefore, FELIX puts out the candle by smashing it with the bottom of an aluminum can.

How Does FELIX Work?

In order to find the candle FELIX is equipped with two light sensors, one on either side of his main body. By comparing the values of those two sensors FELIX can detect to which side the candle is located relative to him. He then turns in that direction until the values indicate that he needs to turn in the opposite direction. By doing this repetitively, FELIX is able to get close enough to the candle that he can pinpoint the location of the candle by triangulation. Once the sensor values are minimized, FELIX knows that he is close enough to the candle to extinguish it. He then lowers the can onto the candle, smothering the flame. Good job FELIX!


FELIX means lucky in Latin. We stumbled across the name out of serendipity, while testing FELIX one of us happened to shout out "Here we go, Felix." Realizing the Latin roots of the name, we decided it was fate. Thus, we now have FELIX.

Why Is FELIX Decorated With Firemen?

We originally had planned on placing a scene atop FELIX akin to a camper roasting marshmallows over a campfire. The camper would be chased by a large Grizzly bear and surrounded by lush green trees.

camper sketch

However, in the end we decided to make them firemen instead in commemoration of the New York Firemen who perished on 9/11.

Home | Project | Pictures | Creators | Code

Jennifer Langer, Zi Dong Fan & Betsy Masiello
Date Created: 1/23/02
Last Modified: 1/25/02