Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Google SXSW Robot Rumble


15th March, 2012

While at SXSW at the weekend, Google hosted an all-day Lego Mindstorms hackathon on Sunday to see who could built the best all-terrain Lego robot.

My design focus was pretty simple - I only had an afternoon so couldn’t go all out on decoration too (it would also have slowed it down!). The idea was to keep it as small and light as possible (somewhat hindered by the massive motor housings and horrendously heavy battery for the logic unit) and with the centre of gravity as low as possible. Tracks were also an obvious choice for me as while they were slower than the wheels, they gave significantly more control and could allow the robot to climb over anything the course forced in its way. An additional benefit was they were positioned just correctly so that the robot could run on its front (with some extra pieces to stop it falling on its back).

Here are some videos of the victories. Right at the bottom is the full 90-minute tape of the live show. Skip to 1hr 25mins to see their cut of the final battle.

Thanks to James Jardine of Qiqqa for recording and his (mostly) pleasant commentary, and Alesis for his “technical analysis” and cheering so loudly the Google people told them to be quiet :-)

First up, Round 1:

Round 2:

And the final (which got a bit hairy towards the end):

Full 90 minutes show: