Robocon, short for Robotics Contest is an internation contest organised every year by ABU (Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union). Over 20 countries participate in this robotics competition each year, with the competition being held in different plcaes on the globe. In India, Robocon was, for the first time, organized in 2002 by Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Only 3 teams participated in that event, and since then the number has increased steadily, with over 50 teams competing in the recently organised Robocon competition. IIT Kanpur itself has also participated in the competition every year since then, with a special Robocon team that selects new members with the arrival of freshers.
Nature of Competition
Robocon, as apparent from the name is a challenge in the build and development of Robots. The problem statement for the competition is different every year, with tasks being unique, and often extremely difficult to even imagine being done by Robots.
Usually, the teams consist of around 20-40 students, and a faculty advisor. The entire robot must be built up from scratch and optimized for the task it is supposed to do. Some teams are even known to design their own micro controllers for unparalleled control over their build. The contest takes place on an arena whose specifications are released with the problem statements. Points are awarded on the basis of tasks done by the robots, with or without time constraints. The exception to this was the year 2015, when the contest was a rival game of badminton played against the opponent, instead of a set of hurdle or tasks for the robots.
International Robocons are mainly sponsored by Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) which includes Doordarshan (Prasarbharati) of India as a member which has been organizing all activities in India for last Nine years with collaboration with the MIT Group of Institutions Pune, India.
ROBOCON in India was initially organized by IIT Kanpur in the year 2002, followed by Nirma University, Ahmedabad for two consecutive years and since then the MIT group of institutions have been organizing it. As of now, Team ROBOCON IITK has never been able to win the competition. The best results so far were achieved in 2014 when we made it to the Quarter Finals and at the same time bagged the prize of the Best Innovation in Design Award and in 2016 when IIT Kanpur managed to bag 3rd position in India.
ROBOCON in IIT Kanpur
The preparation for ROBOCON at IITK starts early in the month of August as soon as the Problem statement for the next year is declared which is usually done in the mid of August. The selection process of the team soon takes place in form of a test of logic and IQ questions, followed by a round of interviews by other seniors in Robocon team. Students are tested on their technical skills, ability and enthusiasm to learn and work together.
Once selected, the students are given orientation, with first few days dedicated to the basics of robotics. It is ensured that everybody knows the absolute basics of all teams so that they can provide their help, in case of emergency situations (like in between competition). For a few years, this has been done by having the newcomers progam with ATmega and create small basic projects to get the familiar with microprocessors and microcontrollers.
After the orientation, newcomers choose their groups based on their interest. They can work with electrical, programming, and mechanical groups based on whichever work they find the most interesting. Most of the work for Robocon in IITK is done in 4i Labs, with students working for about 4 hours every weekday, and all night on weekends.
THe ROBOCON team is one of the most technically proficient and dedicated teams of the campus working dedicatedly and productively for the entire period of six months from August to February(the competition is usually held in February). They believe the day isn't far when they are going to grab the winning slot.
Previous Year Competitions
Robocon India 2016
The theme for Robocon 2016 was "Chai-Yo: Clean Energy Recharging the World". The task for the competition was to have two robots, one powered by conventional means (battery), and one by unconventional means (light/wind). The second robot was supposed to be driven by the first robot using that unconventional power transfer without touching the second bot.
The competition was won by Vadodara Institute of Engineering, beating College of Engineering, Pune in the finals. IIT Kanpur lost by a small margin, coming at third place all over India.
Robocon India 2015
The theme for Robocon 2015 was "Robomintion: Badmintion Robo-Game" and the task itself was to create robots that can play doubles badminton against the opponents robots on a professional badminton court. The national competition took place in Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi - Badminton hall.
The competition was won by Nirma University, Gujarat with a rotating badminton wing design. IIT Kanpur participated with a unique multi join elbow design bot, but came at 11th place on being knocked out of the game by College of Engineering, Pune.