Modern engineering is increasingly cross-disciplinary, so today’s students often take courses that would have seemed to be “outside their field” a couple of decades ago. Pelochus and their classmates at the University of Granada are studying computer engineering, but had a class that challenged them to build battlebots in order to get some hands-on learning with microcontrollers and embedded systems. To dominate the competition, they used an Arduino to create the Rockobot.
This is a play on a meme that was popular in the 3D printing community recently. For laughs, people would slap a bust of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — wrestler and actor extraordinaire — onto just about anything that could be 3D-printed. Pelochus and their team figured that such adornment would increase their chances of success in a battle, and we can smell what they’re cooking.
Below the studly noggin, the Rockobot is a pretty standard tank-style battlebot. It has bent sheet metal plows in the front and back, which are the primary offense and defense. An Arduino Nano board controls the motors that drive the tank treads through a custom PCB populated with L289N H-bridge drivers. Power comes from a 1550mAh 14.8V battery through a step-down converter. Ultrasonic sensors on the front and back, along with infrared sensors on the sides, help the Rockobot navigate autonomously while avoiding collisions.
The spirit of Mr. Johnson must have been inhabiting the Rockobot, because it blew through the competition and took the top position in the class tournament.