The Instigator Robot designed by the engineering students at the UF University bagged the first prize at the ION Robotic Lawn Mover Competition.
The Instigator successfully mowed 76% of the grass in the form of a rectangle, roughly 20 ft without colliding with any of the trash cans that were placed randomly in the grass. The robot performed all these tasks without any human intervention. The robot that won the runner up slot was successful in mowing 51% of the grass.
Professor Eric Schwartz from UF Engineering guided the students in their project activities. He attributed their success to their experience, which helped them anticipate likely failures and take the necessary preventive measures. Despite their preparedness, the team encountered some last minute issues like the motor blowing up; they managed to replace it and save the day. The team comprised senior computer engineering majors’ Camilo Buscaron and Colin Watson and senior electrical engineering major Mike Franks and mechanical engineering graduate student Andres Vargas.
Schwartz explained that the team constructed all the parts of the Instigator except the lawn mower engine, batteries, motor and the wheels. The robot comes with a mechanism comprising a sonar, compass and a lever that makes the required adjustments according to the height of the grass. The team has plans of upgrading the mower by including features like mowing around, flowerbed, a picket fence and moving a mechanical dog.