Sumo Robot kits

Sometime around 2004 I was commissioned by San Francisco State University’s engineering department to design a kit for the local high schools to assemble. They wanted small ‘sumo’ robots that could compete to push each-other out of a special ring. I designed a kit of parts that was delivered to about 20 local high schools where the students assembled them. I included a pre-programmed chip that could read the sensors on the robots and could drive its motors. I also included full source code for the robots and a schematic with the hope that some of them would show up with upgraded software. I had made the software be simplistic so that any team that did go to the effort of modifying the source code would reap the benefit. In the end, most or all of the schools showed up with completed kits but none of them had fooled with the software. There were some small mechanical modifications though. I learned from this project that I never wanted to make low-cost kits again. It was an incredible amount of work. These days, if I were to do something like that again, I would work with a company like They have service where you can specify all of the parts necessary for a kit and then they will take care of sending out everything needed when someone orders it.

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