Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Sumo Wrestler : The Genesis

He was so small that he could be stuffed in a 15 by 15cm box. And he was so light that a 5 year old kid can use him as a dumb bell. Well "he" is the Sumo Wrestler and figuratively speaking he had four parents and a god father. The parents were Vishnu, Vinay, Vijay and Prashanth while Prof XYZ the god father. He might be small and he might be light, but he can be ferocious and can intimidate anyone who enters his arena.

Well this mysterious Sumo is a bot that was solely designed and developed to wrestle with people of his race. The little Sumo grew up to submit to his creators wishes and allowed them to control his impulses. The bot was brain washed and hard wired to move anywhere on the XY plane. Well don't blame the creators for brainwashing the Sumo. For the rule book of IIT Madras dictated the constraints to be pressed on Sumo.

It all started in the summer of April 2005 when Vishnu and Vijay decided to participate in an Inter college technical fest conducted by IIT Madras. Some times, it so happens that when like minded people board a ship it might wobble so to counter balance the ship Vinay and Prashanth boarded to represent the other side of the coin.

Among all the challenges presented in Shaastras' web page, they felt Sumo wrestler can be quickly prototyped and put to immediate use. However, seldom did they realize the complexity of the missive conveyed by the constraints list.

The first task that lay ahead was to figure out the mechanism to make the bot move freely around the arena and then how to implement the mechanism. And so the ship left the safe waters of the port. They started of by hacking commercial toys available in the market to study their design. Many designs and contraptions were put on paper. They even consulted the mechanical department to verify the mechanical perspective of the bot :P. Finally after a spending lots of valuable time discussing the pros and cons of various designs, the team zeroed in on a "two wheel" design.

This design was unique in many ways. Apart from having a very low center of gravity, its two wheels effectively imparted 2 degrees of freedom. And hence their first road block was overcome. And overcome it was with a cost. Which later decided the prospects of the team in the competition.

Will be continued ...

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