This article first appeared in BTS Issue 2.

The IDC Robocon is a global robotics competition held annually. Students from top universities all over the world gather to share ideas and knowledge on robotics and develop a winning robot design within two weeks.

By Wendy Loy, Sophomore
Engineering Product Development

The IDC Robocon 2018 was held at Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan. This year’s theme was “The World Star Hunting Swallow” and we had to build two robots – a land robot and a sea robot. The land robot needed to transfer balls from one point to another horizontally while the sky robot needed to reach a lift within 45 seconds before releasing the balls down a slope into the collection point.

SUTD representatives at the welcome party

None of my team members have any robotics experience so we could only rely on our engineering knowledge to build the robots. Machine design was challenging for me as there were many restrictions in terms of size, materials etc. My team’s land robot was inspired by a claw machine. It could catch a few balls at a time before releasing them into the collection zone. Our sky robot had tunnels to safely transport the balls from a higher to lower point as required.

Our team working on our robots
My team’s sky robot in action
A scene during the finals

After two weeks of designing and building robots, the day of the competition finally arrived. Interestingly, the lift to the sky area was broken. The rule was then amended and all sky robots could start at the sky area instead. My team was very happy upon hearing the news as we were not confident that our sky robot was able to reach the lift within the given time. Although my team was eliminated in the preliminary round, we were glad to achieve the goal we had set for ourselves – not scoring zero points.

Of course, my trip to Japan would not have been complete without the cultural immersion. My team and I visited the convenience store almost every day for lunch (since my Mexican teammate loves conbini food). At night, the Japanese also brought us around to places like Akihabara and Shibuya, where we indulged in good food and fireworks displays.

Dinner at a traditional Japanese restaurant with our friends

Read more about Wendy’s summer adventure at the IDC Robocon 2018 here.

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