Small robots try to find their way in a maze and bump against walls. This is our annual robot race in nearby Strömberg Park, which was organized by hacklab.fi last Saturday! (Or actually biannual, if you count in the indoors winter races organized in Hackerspace Tampere Hacklab)
The idea is to build robots in Hackerspaces all over Finland, and many spaces have their own copy of the “hacklab.fi standard robot maze” at their location. The track is 1×2 meter wooden box with corners that turn left and right. Although it’s a speed race, usually the best show starts when a robot has no idea of its next move.
This is the second time we have made our previously closed doors competition into a public event here in Helsinki, especially for families and children. New this year was a large and sturdy pop-up tent in case of bad weather, better marketing, posters, website, stickers, sound system and more better general idea how we should handle building the event site. This year all our robots were autonomous, and in total eight took part in the race. Robots from previous years were on display in the table and some of them (working ones) took laps on the track as well.
Most bizarre robot this year was thjt‘s Höyry robot, which consisted of a Wilesco steam engine, rotten plywood, bunch of old Legos and IR sensor electronics. It managed to go about ⅔ of a lap before literally running out of steam or dropping a pulley belt. Because it had difficulties to turn right, we gave it a special permission to run the track counterclockwise.
The race was dominated by robots from Kuopio, which took both first and third place. Second place went to Tampere with a robot that was controlled by external computer that monitored the course with hanging camera setup over the track.
Co-operation network hacklab.fi is an attempt to have more interaction between Hackerspaces in Finland, in similar fashion as UK Hackspace Foundation etc. Robot competitions such as this one have been in our schedule once or twice a year since 2012 as a part of Hacklab Summit Finland, which gathers Finnish Hackerspaces together making the scene work more with each others. Making the robot competition a public event became more obvious as the competition became more established tradition and the number of robots started resemble a real competition. This year’s race was supported by Arts Promotion Centre Finland. Participants in Hacklab Summit Finland event came from cities Helsinki, Tampere, Kuopio, Vaasa, Turku and for the first time, the small town of Virrat, which might see its own hackerspace in near future.
Results page in Finnish: http://robotit.hacklab.fi/2017