That’s it for Student Robotics 2022! Hills Road Sixth Form College took the crown in an intense showdown against Cirencester College, Brockenhurst College, and Queen Mary’s College. It was fantastic to finally see robots in-person again after two years of being virtual. The ingenuity and engineering displayed by all our teams was incredible, and we’re delighted with the performances we saw over the weekend.
The Game: This Way Up
This Way Up challenged robots to collect the most tin cans from the arena and ensure they were the correct way up for maximum points. Robots could detect a can’s orientation by the red insulating band along the bottom. When in a robot’s scoring zone, correctly oriented cans were worth three points, upside down cans were worth one point, and cans lying on their side were worth nothing. Tin cans on the arena floor started upside down, but those on the raised platform in the centre were already the right way up, making them harder to get but easier to score points. The states of the cans were recorded at the end of the matches, and the teams were scored accordingly.
The teams played 91 league matches, over which they improved their robots and tweaked their strategies while earning league points. The teams’ positions in the league seeded the knockouts, with the top 8 teams heading straight to the quarter-finals and the rest having to enter qualifier matches to proceed. Teams had various designs, from an Archimedes’ screw, to advanced computer vision, to even flipping the entire robot with cans inside! Particularly notable were Royal Grammar School Guildford for their use of rotary encoders and an accelerometer for a closed-loop control system and Cirencester College for their conveyor belt mechanism with integrated hopper.
Throughout the knockouts, Brockenhurst College emerged as a bit of an underdog. Placing only 16th in the league, their robot managed to get itself all the way to the finals.
There was also some drama in Quarter Final 3. The robot from Hertswood Academy lost its code USB stick with just a minute and a half of the match remaining! Luckily the robot continued operating but collided with the robot from Calday Grange Grammar School.
After progressing through all the knockout matches, four teams were left to face each other in the final: Brockenhurst College, Cirencester College, Hills Road Sixth Form College and Queen Mary’s College. Having scored the most game points of all teams in the league, Queen Mary’s College were a favourite going into the final. All was going well until, with just under a minute left, disaster struck. Instead of depositing cans into their scoring zone, Queen Mary’s College’s robot got stuck driving into the arena wall. Unfortunately, their robot couldn’t recover from this. This gave Brockenhurst College the chance to get a can in their scoring zone, ending the match with equal points to Queen Mary’s College. This tie was broken using the position of teams within the league, leading to Queen Mary’s College taking second place and Brockenhurst College third.
After a close match in the final, Hills Road Sixth Form College managed to beat the competition and win the Student Robotics 2022 competition, closely followed by Queen Mary’s College in second and Brockenhurst College in third.
The Committee Award is given to the team that displays the most extraordinary ingenuity in the design of their robot. As engineers, we appreciate elegance, simplicity, and robust engineering. This year, the committee award was given to Queen Mary’s College for their elegant use of a screw to rotate the cans they collected within the robot. They would collect up to four cans and then eject these out the back of the robot when they returned to their scoring zone.
We’re always delighted to welcome new teams to Student Robotics and understand how big a challenge it can be without prior experience. To recognise this additional challenge, we award the Rookie Award to the highest placed newcomer in the league, celebrating their incredible achievement. This year’s recipient was Abingdon School with their streamlined grabber and advanced can detection system using computer vision.
We award the Robot and Team Image Award to the team that presents themselves in the most outstanding way. This year, our teams rose to the challenge, and we saw some fantastic themes! We loved Haberdashers’ School’s Grease theme, but we decided to give the Robot and Team Image award to Hills Road Sixth Form College for their hilarious “Ducktor Who” theme. All team members attended dressed as classic Dr Who characters, and their robot was topped with a big red duck which acted as their power button.
Through social media, teams can share the problems they’re facing as well as their designs and successes. A few teams stood out to us this year with their regular updates on social media, but the winner of the Online Presence Award is Hampton School and Lady Eleanor Holles School for their consistent and high-quality posts, all collated on the team’s website.
Check out the rulebook for all the details on the awards we give.
Photos of the event have been added to our Google Photos Album
This year’s competition would not have been possible without all of our amazing sponsors. Their generous support allows us to make Student Robotics free to enter and help us continue in our mission to bring the excitement of engineering and the challenge of coding to young people through robotics.
A small army of volunteers is responsible for making Student Robotics happen each year. In addition to all those who helped at the main event, we have teams of volunteers working throughout the year. Those on our Competition Team design, organise and deliver Tech Days (a handful of days on which teams can come together and develop their robots) and the Competition weekend. Our Kit Team designs and supports the software and hardware our competitors use; the Infrastructure Team ensure that our website stays up and our internal teams can work collaboratively; the Fundraising Team ensures that we have the resources needed to run our events; and the Marketing Team makes sure our efforts are seen and heard by all. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of this year’s competition. If you’re reading this and want to join us next year, sign up on our volunteering page.
Notes to editors
Student Robotics is an annual robotics competition for 16-19 year-olds in the UK and Europe. It was founded in 2006 by university students and is free to enter thanks to our sponsors and many volunteers. Since it was first run in 2008, the final competition has grown from one room at the University of Southampton1 to the UK’s biggest autonomous robotics competition.
At the start of the academic year, teams are given a kit containing custom-made electronics at a Kickstart event, where the game for the year is announced. They then have until the Easter holiday to build fully-autonomous robots, which will compete against each other in the final competition. They are supported by volunteer mentors, and software to assist them in programming their robots is provided.
If you would like to find out more, please get in touch.
The SR Team
Student Robotics is independent from the University of Southampton. ↩