Physics and Astronomy

Robot - Maze Navigation
ObjectiveTo develop algorithms and programs to have a pre-built Lego Mindstorms robot navigation through a maze by touch.
PurposeTo encourage and demonstrate creativity, algorithmic thinking, simple programming, and teamwork.
ParticipantsTeams of up to six

Supplied by the Judges
A Lego Mindstorms kit provided to the participants. This will consist of a robot pre-built for the designated task and an infrared tower used to beam programs to the robot.

- A CD containing the Robotics Invention System software used to write programs for the robots. This will be provided to the participants as well.

- A computer used to program the robot. This will need to be a PC running Microsoft Windows, with USB support to connect to the infrared tower.

Lumber, bricks, and other materials to construct the simple maze. The maze will be built on site when the participants arrive for the competition. The maze should not be permanently fixed
together as is its layout may need to change for each round of competition. Judges will also require a stop-watch and a measuring tape for judging purposes.

Supplied by the Teams


Each team will be given three attempts to program their robot to navigate through the maze from start to finish within a certain time limit. The time limit will be set depending on the size of the maze. Between each attempt, the participants are allowed to fine tune the programming of the robot.
Between attempts to navigate the maze, the judges on hand have the option to either reconfigure the maze, or reverse the direction of traversal in the maze to really test the navigation abilities of the robots. If the maze is reconfigured, it will be done in such a way that the distance from start to finish is always the same.

Judging Judging is based on distance travelled through the maze from start to finish and/or the time taken to complete the maze. The main score for a team is based on the total distance travelled by their robot for all three attempts through the maze. The largest total distance wins. In the case of a tie, the total time taken to reach that distance is compared, with the less time taken earning the win.





Mike Katchabaw, Department of Computer Science, The University of Western Ontario

Main Lego Mindstorms Web Site: http://mindstorms.lego.com/
More details on system requirements can be found at:

These and other similar events have been successfully held by the Outreach committee of the Department of Computer Science.. They can accommodate a wide range of age groups and experience among participants. Typically, a brief tutorial is required before each event to teach participants about the basics of programming the Lego robots. The programming environment is graphical, and much like building Lego in itself, where programs are built by connecting together blocks that carry out different actions. The tutorial usually takes between 10-15 minutes of time.

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