Introduction to LEGO MINDSTORMS Robotic Sumo - Rules of the Game
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What Are the Rules of the Game?
The first thing you should know is that there isn’t a robotic sumo organization that dictates a set of rules for everyone to follow. However, several basic rules apply to all robotic sumo events because they represent robotic sumo itself. Also, some rules vary from event to event and person to person, and sometimes there are variations to the game itself.
The Basic Rules
In order to have a law-abiding, decent sumo-bot with good survival capabilities in most rule sets, the sumo-bot must
Comply with rules on weight
Comply with rules on width
Not intentionally damage or harm the opposing sumo-bot in any way
Not drop any pieces intentionally on the playing ground
Have an efficient, sturdy, and well-attached line detecting mechanism for “seeing” the line around the perimeter of the arena
Let’s take a closer look at each of these basic rules and how they affect your sumo-bot’s design.
Weight and Width
First, weight can be a factor. Some rules state that your sumo-bot may weigh up to 2 pounds. As you will see later in this book, weight and brute force do not always matter the most. Sometimes, going with a slightly lighter sumo-bot is better.
Similar to the weight rule—similar because it will affect the size of your sumo-bot—is the maximum width rule. The width is measured in studs, a basic measuring and LEGO term. A stud is the round “button” on a brick that has “LEGO” inscribed on its top. The studs system easily shows the measurements of a brick or model. For an example, if you have a 2x4 brick, this means the brick is two studs wide and four studs long. The first number in a measurement (2 in this example) is the width, and the second (4 in this example) is the length.
Having a maximum of 30 studs wide is one example of a sumo-bot width rule. This rule is designed to prevent those participants with a large inventory from making a giant sumo-bot capable of sweeping the competition off the board!
Robotic sumo is a noviolent sport—violent behavior or intentional abuse of the other sumo-bot is always forbidden. Hurting the other competitor’s sumo-bot or actually breaking or ruining (melting?) its pieces is just not part of the robotic sumo game.
But what happens if a sumo-bot gets flipped over or stops working? If a sumo-bot is overturned or somehow no longer functional, the other (functional) participant is declared winner of that bout. You can come to two conclusions from this statement. First, you can use this to your advantage and design a sumo-bot that relies on a strategy that will flip the opponent. Second, you must be careful to protect your sumo-bot from getting flipped. Both of these ideas will be discussed and put into practice later in the book.
Loss of Pieces
Something that is inevitable in a game such as robotic sumo is pieces falling off. It will happen. To deal with this, rule sets often have a rule that addresses this specific situation. Basically, if a piece or pieces are dropped during play in the ring, those objects will be immediately removed by those running the event. This means that your sumo-bot cannot drop pieces during the game! (So much for that LEGO land mine idea.)
Sometimes a sumo-bot will crash into another one at high speed and send a piece flying—whether from itself or the competitor. When this happens, you might say, “Hey! I couldn’t help it!” Don’t worry; you won’t get thrown out of the competition if your sumo-bot accidentally loses a piece somewhere on the arena. Cases such as this just confirm the great unwritten MINDSTORMS building rule: Make your robot as robust and break-free as possible. After all, if you place a sumo-bot that can fall apart easily into the ring, it will! Once it gets slammed, pieces will start falling off, and that is definitely not good.
The line that encircles the arena is an extremely important element. It must be very “seeable” for the LEGO MINDSTORMS light sensor, because if it isn’t, there are going to be a lot of sumo-bots blundering off the playing area.
Often, the line will be black, and the surface of the arena will be white or vice versa. The line itself should be at least several inches thick to give the sumo-bots time to slow down and turn around once they see it. The LEGO light sensor (see Figure 1-2) must be attached very sturdily to your sumo-bot and will often be in the very front for early detection. You will see and build examples of light sensor attachments later in this book.
Figure 1-2. The light sensor: The eyes of your robot
This chapter is from Competitive MINDSTORMS: A Complete Guide to Robotic Sumo Using LEGO MINDSTORMS, by David Perdue (Apress, 2004, ISBN: 1590593758). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today. Buy this book now.
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