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2013 Race Day

2013 challenge

The 2013 challenge required students to design and construct, from first principles, a microcontroller-based Autonomous Robotic Vehicle (ARV) that had to make use of reflective optical sensor technology to detect and follow a dark line on a light surface. One of the major challenges was that the entire project, which was based on the Microchip PIC18F45K20, had to be coded in Assembly language. Additional specifications included that the system i) had to count a random number of light markers on the track while following the track, ii) had to have a communication link through which the ARV could upload information to a PC, e.g. race time (the ARV had to measure and store its own race time), team members' names and the number of markers in the track, iii) had to be started with a capacitive touch switch and iv) had to stop automatically at the end of the track. Lastly, all parts of the vehicles excluding the electronics, motors and gears had to be constructed from recyclable materials to afford all teams an equal opportunity to perform well.

The complete 2013 practical assignment may be viewed here. Please note that the intellectual property rights of the assignment and copyright of the associated documents reside with the University of Pretoria.

Video of final race

2013 Winners

The winners with the Dean and HoD.

From left to right: Chris Joubert, Prof Roelf Sandenbergh (Dean: Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology), Monique Willemse, Olaus Cloete, Martin Roestorff, Ciara Pienaar, Hendrikus Kampman, Monique Pienaar, Christoff Smit and Prof Sunil Maharaj (Head of Department Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering).

Timed races

The winning team, in a time of 14.6 seconds, was TEAM 2! Well done guys!

Chris Joubert, Christoff Smit, Hendrikus Kampman & Martin Roestorff

General Accuracy

The general accuracy winner was decided by vote. The unanimous winner was TEAM 16! Congratulation Girls!
(See judges favourites below.)

Monique Willemse, Monique Pienaar & Ciara Pienaar. Absent: Petroné Bezuidenhout

Finalists (places 2 to 8)

2nd place (24.4 s)3rd place (26.2 s)4th place (28.7 s)

Group 39: Vian Reynders, Olaus Cloete, Nicolaas Benadé & Ben Metcalfe

Group 19: Pierre Joubert, Waldo Smith & Matthew Coutinho

Group 42: René Stallmann, Niel Cloete & Daniël Retief
5th place (31.8 s) 6th place (37.6 s) 7th place (58.0 s)

Group 49: Neville Pitzer, Carel-Chris Swanepoel & Barco Fourie

Group 8: Nicholas Osner, Wade Smith & David Oberholzer

Group 50: Wilhelmus Botha, Jaco Marais, Brett Hatton & Louis Visser
8th place (93.4 s)

Group 16: Monique Willemse, Monique Pienaar, Ciara Pienaar & Petroné Bezuidenhout (absent)

Judges' favourites

Favourite #1. Group 16's ARV was the slowest car in the final race, but it never had to be repositioned. It ran any track through from start to end. All the judges voted for this entry!
Favourite #2. The FISH completed three tracks in a row during the pre-race test runs and then had two Titanic moments: during the race and the final. Bad luck guys!
Favourite #3. Group 14's shopping trolley design was a firm favourite.
Favourite #4. Group 4's innovative wheels took recycling to the limit.
Favourite #5. Group 30's monster car which snaked this way and that way across the track provided much amusement.
Favourite #6. Group 40's solid design demonstrated commitment to the cause.

Race day team

The team behind the Race Day arrangements:

  • Mr Willem van Jaarsveld (Laboratory instructor, technical & logistical support)
  • Prof Tania Hanekom (EMK310 lecturer)
  • Tiaan Malherbe (Bioengineering PhD student, developed GUI and assisted Larry with construction and testing of timing system circuits)
  • Albert Monteith (Bioengineering Honours student; construction of starting lights & general assistance to Larry)
  • Larry Schmidt (Bioengineering Masters student; timing system champion; design and construction of timing hardware and software and welding and construction of finish line gantry).

Pre-race development

Larry and Tiaan in the Biolab busy with the construction of the timing system.


Our Department

Many thanks to Prof Sunil Maharaj and our Department (Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering) for supporting the Race Day effort and for sponsoring prizes and the race timing system.


Microchip has been supporting the EMK310 microcontrollers module faithfully for more than a decade by providing tools at significantly reduced prices, large numbers of product samples that are required for the practical component of the EMK310 module free of charge, training material and training opportunities to staff and postgraduate students, excellent technical support and an annual training session for the third year students. Thank you very much to Mr Willem Hijbeek and Mr Bernd Pfitzinger from Tempetech, the local Microchip representative, for their attendance and suport and for the wonderful prizes that were sponsored for the finalists.

ST Microelectronics / Arrow Altech

ST Microelectronics and Arrow Altech's involvement with EMK310 started this year with the donation of a the STM32F0DISCOVERY kit for every EMK310 student and a hands-on lecture on the use of the STM32F0 MCU. ST and Arrow Altech sponsored fabulous prizes for the first three places. Thank you very much to Mr Marthinus Harmse, Mr Stuart Hanford and Mr Mark van der Westhuizen for their attendance and support at this year's Race Day event.

2013 ARV Entries with heat results

DNF = did not finish; +P = penalized; > 3 min = took longer than 3 minutes to finish; F = included in final

Team 1 (> 3 min)
Team 2 (36.8 s F)
Team 3 (DNF)
Team 4 (139.3 s)
Team 5 (DNF)
Team 6 (DNF)
Team 7 (98.7 s +P)
Team 8 (41.7 s F)
Team 9 (> 3 min)
Team 10 (> 3 min)
Team 11 (DNF)
Team 13 (> 3 min)
Team 14 (145.4 s +P)
Team 15 (DNF)
Team 16 (94.2 s F)
Team 17 (DNF)
Team 18 (DNF)
Team 19 (30.0 s F)
Team 22 (98.9 s)
Team 25 (> 3 min)
Team 26 (DNF)
Team 27 (DNF)
Team 28 (DNF)
Team 29 (146.0 s +P)
Team 30 (124.7 s)
Team 31 (DNF)
Team 33 (DNF)
Team 34 (DNF)
Team 37 (144.3 s)
Team 38 (96.0 s)
Team 39 (21.6 s F)
Team 40 (DNF)
Team 42 (36.6 s F)
Team 43 (DNF)
Team 49 (12.7 s F)
Team 50 (102.4 s F)
Team 51 (DNF)
Team 52 (DNF)
Team 53 (218.4 s)
Team 54 (147.7 s)
Team 56 (163.4 s)