“Passion drives Power People” is a slogan that well reflects the character of Sii Poland employees. This is confirmed by enthusiasts from Katowice branch of the company who develop their unusual project. As part of the 5th edition of Passion Sponsorship Program they are building a Sumo Robot. Where did the idea come from and why even after hours they are not fed up with what they do every day – Mateusz Tutaj, Tomasz Herzog, Maciej Pokładnik, Damian Durczok and Piotr Chodorowski talk about their passion for robotics and model-making.
Every day they work as experts in programming, testing and analysis in Katowice branch of Sii Poland, in a team implementing projects for a client from the railway industry. From an early age, they showed interest in electronics, robotics and model-making. After work, in their free time, they get together to work on their passion.
What is the Sumo Robot project?
Our Sumo Robot project is to build a small robot, whose task is to fight “melee” with a robot-opponent and push him out of the designated mini arena. It’s fun to beat your opponent, and which robot wins can be determined by better design, higher speed or grip, or more effective combat algorithms.
Robot fight alone is pure fun, but getting to this final phase requires time-consuming programming and testing. Creating a robot is a technologically advanced, interdisciplinary project. First, we design and then construct a traveling platform that is used to “sumo” fight with other robots. Working on this project requires us to be familiar many issues from various fields such as mechanics, electronics, CAD / CAM systems, programming, material processing, and even 3D printing and prototyping.
How is such a robot created?
The first stage of robot design is our creation of basic assumptions about the mechanical structure and drive system. Then we create a three-dimensional CAD model and preliminary technical documentation. Based on the model, technical drawings and executive files are generated, thanks to which we can start the production of robot components.
To make prototype parts, we use 3D printing technology. Thanks to it we can verify our ideas very quickly and cost-effectively. We create the final elements from durable materials and commission them for production on, among others, milling machines, plotters or lathes.
The next stage is the assembly of the robot structure from manufactured elements. We carry out the first general tests on the resulting structure. There is always something to improve, that’s why the results allow us to continue working on improving and developing the robot. Once we improve something, we test it again and implement the changes permanently. Work at this stage is repetitive – we meet every week and check the results of our work and introduce further improvements.
What’s the most difficult thing about this process?
The most difficult and at the same time the most important task is to divide responsibilities. Appropriate allocation of tasks and the use of resources is a key factor for efficient work – thanks to the right approach, team members perform their tasks independently and simultaneously, which significantly speeds up the implementation of the entire project. At this stage, we can divide our responsibilities into the following areas: mechanical construction, electronics, software, documentation and organization of work as well as procurement (orders, purchases).
Is this type of sport, if you can use this term, popular in Poland?
It is difficult to estimate how many people in Poland may be interested in the topic of robot fighting, but at most technical universities and technical high schools there are student associations related to mobile robotics. New technologies and solutions are constantly appearing on the market, which are affordable (Lego Mindstorms, Arduino, STM, Raspberry Pi, DIY kits). Owing to this, interest in robotics as a scientific discipline and events promoting it is growing.
When it comes to robot competitions, they have been in place all over Poland, regularly, for many years in different cities. The largest events in which we also plan to participate in 2020 include: Jurabot, Robocomp, Baltic Robot Battles and Sumo Challenge. Their main purpose is to popularize technical sciences and advanced technologies. During events, enthusiasts from Poland and abroad compete with each other. Thanks to this, you can get to know each other and exchange knowledge or learn about technological innovations. At many events there are no age limits for participants, so everyone can try their hand, including the youngest.
The Sumo Robot project is conducted as part of the 5th edition of the Passion Sponsorship Program. How does the funding from Sii Poland help you?
First of all, the possibility of implementing the project at a high technological level. We use the money we have received to buy the best quality materials, technical and electronic components that will make the robot durable, but also for good tools, without which it would be extremely difficult to assemble the structure.
What gives you the greatest satisfaction in realizing technological passion?
We are very satisfied with inventing technological solutions and achieving our goals with the help of our own ideas. In robotics, both in our work and after hours, there are many unexpected situations and problems that we face every day. Their continuous solving brings us closer to the final result and is an integral part of every creative process. Professional experience helps us in the Sumo Robot project and vice versa – problems and difficulties in creating the robot help us with our daily duties at work.
As part of Passion Sponsorship Program, Sii Poland has been supporting employee technology projects for years. Among them are: embedded engineer blog from Wrocław, the activity of Hackerspaces in which our engineers from Wrocław and Krakow are engaged, or the implementation of the Siimulator project, run by a group of enthusiasts from Sii Gdańsk.
Learn more about Sii Poland’s Passion Sponsorship Program .