Lisa Hazel and Meredith Shotwell

We were junior Computer Science majors at Wellesley College when we created this robot. During Wintersession 2000, we took the Robotics Design Studio course, taught by Robert Berg and Franklyn Turbak. During Spring 2000, we continued to work together on our robot with Professors Berg and Turbak as our advisors, with the intention of entering our robot in the Trinity College Fire-Fighting Home Robot Contest in April 2000.


The Contest

Trinity College hosted its 7th annual Fire-Fighting Home Robot Contest in April 2000. The contest is a public robotics competition open to all entrants, regardless of age or experience. Each year, contestants come from a wide range of backgrounds and countries. The goal of the contest is to build a computerized robot that can find and extinguish a fire in a house. For the contest, the robot must navigate its way through a maze resembling a simple floor plan of a single-story house. A candle is placed in one of the rooms, chosen at random for each trial. The robot must find the candle and extinguish the flame, consistently and as quickly as possible.

The plan and dimensions of the maze are known to the contestants prior to the contest. The walls of the maze will be painted white. The floor will be painted black, with white lines at each doorway. There will also be a white circle (12" in diameter) on the floor around the candle. Additional challenges, such as floor ramps and furniture, may be added for scoring bonuses. Once the robot is started, the contestants may not touch their robot until it has finished the run.

The ultimate goal is to have a robot that not only wins the contest, but can be adapted for commercial use, fighting actual fires in homes, businesses, warehouses, and other buildings.


The Web Site

This web site documents our work on building a fire-fighting robot. Although our robot never made it to the contest, we still believe that a great deal can be learned from the process we went through in building the robot.The last version of the robot, as it was at the time of the contest, will be described in the Final Robot section. The intermediate and final designs for the structure of the robot are described in the Structural Design section. The intermediate and final systems for navigating through the maze, finding the candle, and extinguishing the flame are discussed in the Navigational Systems section. Finally, visit our Misadventures section to find out about our unexpected escapades in playing with Legos, shaving cream, and fire!


The Paper

The entire project is also documented more formally in our final paper.



Robot Home  Final Robot  Structural Design  Navigational Systems  Misadventures