Clifford goes to Treasure Island

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This website was created for Robotic Design Studio 2005 by Karen Maloof, Stephanie Rounds and Jeanna Barbieri.

Our project was to create a robot which could run on the sand, find buried treasure, and uncover it. We chose to make our robot into Clifford the Big Red Dog, a character from a series of childrens books by Norman Birdwell, and more recently made into a TV series on PBS. He finds treasure through a pair of magnetic sensors on the bottom of the robot. The treasure boxes contain magnets glued to the inside of the lid. Upon finding a treasure, Clifford sweeps it clear using a paintbrush which moves in an elliptical path. Once the treasure has been cleared, Clifford backs away to reveal the treasure to his audience. Clifford's "Island" is actually a sandbox. He searches it by moving straight for a random time, then turning in a random direction and continuing straight again. When he hits a wall, he backs away, then continues his random search.

Clifford was constructed with certain features to allow him to run on sand, a difficult task. Clifford has tall wheels which prevent his gear train from dragging through sand, and all wheel drive for situations where an uneven surface prevents his wheels from gripping the ground evenly. The wheels are doubled up to provide more surface area for the robot to run on. And finally, except for the motor, the gear train is built into just one lego brick per side, so that it can't slip apart under stress.


Here is our design journal documenting not only what our robot does, but also the trials and steps by which we came to our final design.

Here is the code we used in our final robot to make him find the treasure.

Here is a photo album of the robot's evolution.