An A-maze-ing Failure

        Last year, we barely missed the labyrinth solver competition in the METU Robot Days. We had both the robot, consisting of the electronic components, the code, and we thought victory was within our grasp. Yet unfortunately, our chance at a first place or even participation was thrown away by some minor details. here’s how it happened.

        2 years ago, in February, we visited the annual METU Robot Days. There were all sorts of robots from image recognition glasses, to kamikaze drones and we were really excited to learn about all the new technological advancements in our country. Towards the end of the day we saw a conference hall divided into four sections; within each, kids our age competing in relatively simple but still challenging competitions such as collecting trash, following a line and our favourite: maze solving. Not only were we interested in it beforehand (having watched many Chinese maze solving videos had sparked our interest) we were also encouraged by how poorly most of the contestants were doing. Almost all the robots would get stuck on the first few walls not even getting to solve the labyrinth once. With so much motivation we got to work. The code was finished fairly quickly during Ramadan (a prototype of which can be found on Next, the electronic components were decided upon, ordered, and assembled. During these times it was getting a bit busy for our team as 10th grade and IBDP were just around the corner. Thankfully we managed to translate and compile the code a few weeks before the competition. However, there were three problems we hadn’t predicted: the battery malfunctioned, the robot’s trajectory was shifting over time, and there wasn’t enough space in the chip for the convoluted code. Despite working on these issues for three weeks using all of our time even working on it during school hours, we could only fix the first issue and when the competition day came, not being ready for a project we worked on for so many months really burst our bubble.

        From that day on, we learned to have a definite plan for our projects and always account for the worst case. To this day we are always deal with many problems in our projects but thankfully avoid that kind of mistake.


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