Monday, March 12, 2012

Cloud Robotics Hackathon March 2012

I participated in the Cloud Robotics Hackathon in Montreal at the beginning of March.

It was my first hackethon and it was great. I registered with two friends, Alain & Benjamin. We joined forces with 3 strangers, Aurélien, Renaud & Stéphane, who turned out the be not only competent, but decent friendly persons.

The event itself was quite well organized. They accounted for primary needs like robots & WiFi, as well as secondary needs like food & shelter ;) Seriously it went without a hitch and we could really concentrate on our robot while the organizers and volunteers were working really hard for everything to go around smoothly.

We got out free robot kit courtesy of RobotShop on Saturday Morning. Beforehand I had wished it would come already assembled so we could have more time for the actual programming. It turned out I had so much fun participating in the assembly that it really was better it wasn't assembled beforehand.

We had quite a diverse team of programmers & sysadmins. It was all out first experience with a robot and we had tremendous fun. We split into smaller groups to work on different part of the project. The (unpolished) end result is a robot which you can send simple commands over a  PHP script through the cloud and Bluetooth. An example of a simple command is go forward 456 centimetres. The fun part is if the robot detects an obstacle in front of it, it tries to autonomously go around it. The robot also accumulates its moves and send them back over the cloud where they are logged and are used to display a map of the robot's path. Obstacle are shown in a different colours and little drawing shows when the robot turned clockwise or counterclockwise.

I never thought so much could be done in just a weekend. A big thank you to my team mates, the organizers, volunteers and sponsors! A special thank you goes to my family for their kind support.

I really enjoyed the cooperative atmosphere. Everybody was freely and proactively helping each other. For example some electronic genius shared a problem and a workaround related to the usage of the Android Kit and pin number 8 of the board.

Here are the links of the video presentation we had to submit and of the video of the presentation in front of the judges.
Robot Hackathon Montréal 2012 - No pain, no game!
Montreal Robotics Hackathon 2012- Team No pain No Game

P.S. We used, Arduino, Python & PHP.

Update: Incredibly, we won third place. Hurray!