Welcome to another blog post in our 101 series! Today, we’re going to delve into the brains of your robot - its code.
Teamwork Makes The Code Work
First and foremost, your robot’s code should never be a one-person show. Make sure more than one person has access to the codebase and understands it. This is crucial for two reasons: First, if the primary coder is unavailable for any reason, others can step in and keep things moving. Second, multiple perspectives can identify potential issues and generate creative solutions that a single mind might overlook. Think of it as having a built-in code review process!
The Pulse of Your Robot - The Control Loop
Your robot interacts with the environment in a continuous cycle of sensing and acting. It’s essential to have a solid control loop in your code where your robot senses its environment and then decides what to do next based on that information. This loop should be at the core of your robot’s operation, allowing it to adapt and react to its surroundings.
Backup Your Code: The Magic of Version Control Systems
Mistakes and accidents happen, files get lost, and computers crash. To protect your work from these unpredictable events, ensure you regularly back up your code. Better yet, use a Version Control System (VCS) like Git with GitHub. A VCS not only provides a backup of your code but also tracks changes, making it easy to identify when and where things might have gone wrong or right!
The Six T’s: Test, Test, Test, Test, Test, Test!
If there’s one golden rule in the world of coding, it’s this: test your code. Then, test it again, and keep testing! You can utilise our web interface to help you quickly iterate on your robot, by live streaming the logs and viewing the last captured image. You can also use the web interface to stop and restart the execution of your code. The more robust your testing, the more reliable your robot will be when it counts!
The Benefits of Friendly Competition
If you have a large enough team, consider developing competing implementations of certain features or systems. This can be an effective way to explore different solutions and spark innovation. You can then choose the best elements from each, or select the most efficient solution overall.
Embrace Imperfections: Sensor Noise
It’s crucial to remember that real-world data is often noisy and imperfect. Your sensors may pick up interference, or there could be slight variations in readings. Your code should be robust enough to handle this noise and still make effective decisions. Techniques such as sensor fusion or filtering (like taking an average of multiple readings) can be highly beneficial here.
The Power of Documentation
Our Docs are a goldmine of knowledge and should be your first port of call whenever you’re unsure about something. Much like a good textbook or reference guide, our Docs are designed to support you in understanding your robot better. From getting started with your robot kit, to understanding the APIs, to troubleshooting common issues; the Docs cover a broad spectrum of topics you may encounter.
Coding your robot can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. It’s where the magic happens, where the inert pieces of metal, wood, and circuitry come to life and engage with the world. We hope these tips and strategies will help you avoid common pitfalls and pave the way for your success in the Student Robotics competition. Remember, every stumble is an opportunity to learn and improve. Keep coding, keep testing, and most importantly, have fun!