Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Robot Dragster Project - Final Chapter

Last spring my robotics students undertook an ambitious project, building a remote control dragster. Our goal was to, at a minimum, make something that would exceed the legal speed limit.

It was a project fraught with technical difficulties including a crash in early testing that broke it in half!   OUCH!!!!!

But the really hard thing to accept was that we never had a chance to do an actual road test.  Last spring winter just went on and on.  The streets were covered in ice and crud.  In the end we just ran out of class time.

So the Dragster sat in my basement for six months.

But it did get its moment of glory.  After the Machines Behaving Badly event we still had a class session left.  (It does not make sense in Wisconsin to schedule an event on the Saturday when deer season begins.  No, not at all.)

For the "extra" session I brought out a number of robot toys including the mothballed dragster.  And by gosh we actually got a road test in.  I think the batteries were a bit weak but the two kids who drove it managed to steer it straight and true...

video
Notice that at the end our novice driver even managed to make the turn rather than plow into the curb. I had used my remote switch to power off the motor by that point.

Top speed?  Well, a disappointing 16 miles per hour.  Much more could be attained I am sure.  But, there is this consolation.....we were testing on school property, and the speed limit is....?



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