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Each year_ the IEEE Southeast Conference _SECON_ hosts an


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        Each year, the IEEE Southeast Conference (SECON) hosts an autonomous, robot-
based hardware competition. Over the past several years, Mississippi State University has
been strongly represented. Mississippi State’s SARGON team took first place in the
competition last year. This year we are striving to uphold and advance Mississippi
State’s legacy of excellence. The 2004 IEEE SoutheastCon Hardware Design
Competition will be held in Greensboro, NC. This year’s competition has been dubbed,
“The Hunting Session”. The goal of the competition is to design an autonomous robot
that can navigate its way to a Morse code station, acquire an order of targets, retrieve the
targets, and return them to a designated area. The course must be completed in the
shortest time possible. This challenge appears, at first, to be a mere game, but the
technology and design techniques that are being used could be implemented in a variety
of practical applications. For example, the designs achieved in this project could be used
in a range of industrial applications where using autonomous vehicles to transport objects
would result in lower costs and safer working environments.

        In addition to the procedural rules of the competition, our robot is restricted by
several constraints:

 “1. Robots must be battery powered. No gas-powered robots will be allowed.
  2. Robots must not be hazardous to human spectators. This would include expelling
     fumes, exploding, or running excessively out of control among other things. Robots
     that are deemed dangerous will be disqualified from the competition.
  3. Robots shall have a maximum size of 2 feet (length, width, and height).
  4. The robot may at no time destroy, damage, or alter any part of the track.
  5. The robot must be completely autonomous.”

      The competition course surface will be a 20-foot long by 12-foot wide area of
indoor/outdoor carpet. There will be white lines on the course to lead our robot to all
necessary locations. All lines on the track will be made with 2-inch wide, white duct
tape. Our robot must follow the white lines at all times and will not be allowed to deviate
from the white lines at any time during the course run.

      The creators of the competition have withheld several competition variables. For
instance, we have not been told what surface the playing field will be laid on. The
competition is set to on the football field of Aggie Stadium at North Carolina A&T State
University, but we will not know whether the course will be placed on the football field
or on the surrounding track. This was done to encourage teams to design robots that
would operate on various terrains. Since the competition is being held outside, our
design must also be protected against any form of inclement weather.

       The procedural rules of the competition specify that the robot must begin in the
designated starting area. A traffic light will be positioned in front of the robot, and will
provide the robot with a starting signal. When the traffic light changes from red to green
the robot will begin tracking a white line, which will be placed on the course terrain.
After the start signal the robot will have 10 seconds to move under a bridge and onto the
playing field. An integrated LCD screen will indicate that the robot has started by
displaying “GO”.

        The first objective, upon reaching the playing field, will be to find the
Morse code station. A traffic light will be positioned above the Morse code
station. When the robot is in range of the station, the traffic light will change
from green to red. The robot then must receive a transmitted Morse code
message, which will be provided by an infrared led. The message will contain the
order of targets to be acquired. After successfully deciphering the message, the
robot must display the order of animals to be hunted and begin the hunting phase
of the course.

        There will be three hunting stations: duck, rabbit and deer. A decoy of
each animal (colored metal ball bearing) will be placed at its respective station.
In order to successfully capture an animal, the robot must advance to the animal’s
station and pick up a 1-inch diameter chrome steel ball. The ball will be waiting
in a wooden container, placed at the front of the animal’s station.

        After acquiring all three targets, in their respective order, the robot must proceed
to the parking station. After reaching the parking station, the robot must deposit all of the
targets into a drop-off box located at the far end of the station. Finally, the robot will
display the word “END” to the LCD screen, indicating the completion of the round.

       The main criteria for awarding points will be the speed at which the robot finishes
the round, and on the accuracy demonstrated in accomplishing each requirement. The
robot will be given a maximum time of five minutes to complete the round. The points
awarded are based on the following criteria:

 “1) “Ready - Get Set - Go ”

                Moving within 10 seconds of the traffic light turning green.
                Moving completely out of the starting box.
                Displaying “STOP” at red light, “GO” at green light
                Hitting the covered bridge.
                Not moving within 30 seconds of traffic light turning green
                Moving around the covered bridge
                Moving after 10 seconds, but before 30 seconds

 2) “Get Instructions”

                 Getting to the Morse code station
                 Stopping when the traffic light turns red
                 Listing the name of each animal on the display unit, in correct order for
 3) “Hunting Stations”

                Not following the lines
                Capturing each target in the correct order
                Capturing any target out of the correct order
                Displaying “DONE” after capturing the last target
                Getting to each station

 4) “THE END”

               Parking in the correct area
               Dispensing a ball into the drop-off box
               Displaying “THE END” after dispensing all balls
               Completing the round within 5 minutes
               Remaining time, only if the robot completes the target sequence in the
                correct order”

       Since the SARGON team captured first place at last year’s SECON competition,
everyone will be watching the Mississippi State team. To achieve our goal, we must
consider every design constraint, predict as many problems as possible and, above all, be
prepared for anything. We have set our goal: To build a winning robot that will uphold
our Mississippi’s legacy of excellence. Now we must strive to reach that goal.

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