Neat Engineering Competition

Working at the University of Waterloo affords me some pretty neat opportunities. One of them is being able to occasionally view student project competitions for the Faculty of Engineering. This one I was interested in because I replied to a late-night plea for an ultrasound sensor that went out to the Kwartzlab mailing list. I guess a student group making a self-navigating boat damaged their ultrasound sensor and needed a spare for a competition the following day, and I happened to have one I could spare. After hearing the details of the competition, I decided to go have a look:

It was a fairly simple setup and the boats weren’t overly complicated. They used polystyrene insulation for the hull, a servo to steer, a drive motor for the propeller, usually three ultrasound sensors for wall detection, and many had arduinos for the brains. It is amazing what sort of complicated behaviours you can see emerge from such a simple physical/electrical setup.

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