The team has already bought the majority of the parts they need for the complete RobotX project. “We still have some parts to get, but what we are doing right now is mostly programming and integrating the systems and making sure that they all work successfully,” he says.
During the competition, the robot boats will have to master several exercises, including obstacle courses and avoiding imaginary animals such as a crocodile, a turtle and a platypus. Ethan says that the boat can already master these exercises manually with remote controls, but they haven't tested it automatically yet.
Working through the exercises
The animal exercise is actually more difficult than it sounds. “The platypus and crocodile exercise needs footage from a hyperspectral camera — a camera that can see more colours than the human eye — to detect certain wavelengths. The boat has to drive either clockwise or anti-clockwise around the particular object,” Ethan says. “Hyperspectral imaging is a very computer-intensive process. So, it will probably be the very last exercise that we will focus on.”
Ethan says that, for now, it is more important to focus on getting the boat to work on the tasks step by step, beginning with the easiest challenge. “We think that it may be beneficial that we are not trying to work on all tasks simultaneously. Instead, we incrementally go through each of them and find out which are the most important ones,” he says.
“It’s important that you have a functioning boat, and if you miss some tasks, that's fine. Because, previously, at some competitions, some teams have not been able to do very much at all because they have tried to do everything at once.”