Robocon is an international tournament based on robotics, with individual domestic
contests in each of its participating countries from Asia. The MIT Tech Team was formed in
2005 to represent MIT in the national Robocon. Since then, the team has shown tremendous
MIT was the finalist in 2008, and also the only team to complete the theme three times.
In 2010, MIT won the National Robocon resoundingly, competing against premier teams such as
IIT- Bombay, IIT-Delhi, IIt-Madras, VIT, NIRMA Institute etc. Thus far, MIT has represented
India in the International Robocon twice.
Our performance in Robocon 2011 was also strong, but due to some unforeseen errors in
the power circuitry, we could only reach up to the semifinals. However, preparations are now on
in earnest for Robocon 2012 under the able guidance of Prof S.G. Kulkarni and Prof
S.R.Yeolekar. The sources of inspiration for the team are Prof V.D. Karad sir, Prof P.B. Joshi sir
(our mentor) and Prof G.N. Mulay sir.
As of now, robots lack a single, all encompassing definition. They can be said to be a
virtual or mechanical artificial agent. But more commonly, a robot is accepted as being an
electro-mechanical system that conveys a sense that it has intent or agency of its own. In short, a
robot can sense its surroundings, and has some mechanical components that it uses to manipulate
this environment to exhibit intelligent behavior.
Human imagination has always been fascinated by the thought of creation of artificial
helpers. From Leonardo Da Vinci’s design of the Mechanical Man to the popular Frankenstein,
and now recently from the genocidial robots in Terminator to the servile humanoids in I,Robot
and the works, robots have always fired our collective imagination.
Presently, robots are designed and produced to perform tasks that may be too dangerous,
or tedious, for a human to perform. Repetitive, accurate movements, such as those required in
the manufacturing industry, or forays into harsh or uninhabitable conditions, such as space
exploration or rescue operations, are nowadays carried out by robots. The military is not far
behind in its pursuit of robotics. Drone robots used for bombings, as well as others to spy or
defuse bombs are being used in the modern battlefield.
Compared to the better known branches of robotics given above, as well as experimental
robotics, the robotics that we pursue here can be termed as hobby robotics. But even in this
application of robotics, we learn a lot about engineering application, an amalgamation of
mechanical, electronics and computing that is difficult to find in any other field.
The most important tool in the creation of such recreational robots is Observation.
Objects we see everyday can be used in unique ways. For example, a team in the domestic
Robocon used hair clips to pick up cylindrical sticks. All you need to do is let your imagination
run riot, open your mind, and most importantly, think like an engineer!
Here in the Robocon lab, we use all these basic components and mix them up with
advanced fabrication techniques, such as laser cutting and water jet cutting, to create an accurate
frame that can perform the given task in the smallest time frame. We design our own electronic
boards; we solder them ourselves and then mount them on these mechanical structures. Then a C-
language code is put into the microcontroller, the brain of our robot, and we send it off to do its
The basic creation of a robot is simplicity itself, however. All you need to do is to take a
simple base frame, a couple of motors and wheels and then mount the electronic circuits onto it.
In a jiffy your robot will be zipping about! And the best part, all the components needed to create
your very own robot can be found in the local market. A few hundred bucks and you can start
yourself down the exciting path of creating an intelligent robot!
-Ishan Durugkar & Salil Rajarshi
MIT Tech Team Member