Designing and building a mini automated vehicle
Joshua Olaleye built a guided vehicle to compete in our mouse race group project, where the challenge is to complete a circuit in the fastest time.
My advice to other students taking part is plan your design well and enjoy the process!
Throughout their studies students in the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering develop their skills and knowledge working on projects. In their second year all students take part in our mouse race competition. The challenge is to design, build and test an automated guided vehicle (known as a mouse) to follow a set route in the fastest time. Working in teams, students must prepare a design that is both fast and reliable; too much speed and the mouse will leave the circuit, too little speed and the mouse will not win.
Joshua was part of a team of three and their first decision was whether to build an analogue or digital mouse: "We chose to design an analogue mouse because we thought we would learn more from the experience. A digital system would have involved less components and so reduce the weight. This would have given us a faster mouse from the beginning, but we wanted to work on something that would really make us think as a group."
Joshua's mouse contained a sensor to detect an electric current running through the centre of the 20m track. It navigated ascending and descending ramps and bends to finish the course in 14.34 seconds (a top 10 finish).
The best part of the project for Joshua was working as part of a team: "I really enjoyed exploring my strengths and skillsets, while learning from my team members. It was really interesting to work with people who have different personalities. Respecting the views of others and reasoning with differing opinions to come to a conclusion helped me to see the bigger picture."
The project is also an opportunity to develop a range of hard and soft skills: "Working on the project gave me an insight into the professional world: the art of liaising with technical and non-technical professionals. This has helped my communication skills. I learnt a lot about time management, planning and goal setting, as well as practical elements like soldering."