A friend of mine invited me to an event called Altran Robot Challenge. It is perhaps described as a nice social gathering with food and drinks held by the company Altran in Malmö, Sweden. Now, we all know that engineers/tech-nerds don’t really like to socialize so what made this event interesting was the fact that we got to play with programmable LEGO (mindstorms) at the same time! All wrapped up in an innocent competition and all accompanied by free beer! Could it be any better?

This year the task was to build moving robots that should navigate through a course made up of tape on wood floor: white tape as left boundary and black tape as right boundary. To make it harder, small paper cones was placed along the sides of the course, and if you hit them, you had to start from the beginning. In each race you competed against one other robot.

At the beginning of the evening we were divided into teams and after that we ha about three hours to build both software and hardware before the actual competition began.

The heart of the robot consists of a control unit with a couple of inputs and outputs for sensors and motors. You write your code in a C-like language called NXC (Not eXactly C) and then download your program to the unit via a USB-cable.

Why am I writing this post, telling you all this? Well, the answer is simply that the winning robot was coded by me =)

The algorithm was simple:
1. Drive forward until black or white tape encountered (measured with light sensor)
2. Reverse and turn left or right depending on color.
3. goto 1.

Eventually we won over the hard-coded approach implemented by the other team here in the finals. Enjoy the result below:

To wrap it up: Kudos to Altran for arranging this great event! An inspirational evening that gave you the chance to unleash the true nerd within you without having to be embarassed. And all among like-minded persons!

There’s chance you might see similar events from Popdevelop in the future!