Wacky Racers in Undercroft – Thursday 2 June

The University of Canterbury’s Electrical and Computer Engineering department hosts the annual ‘Wacky Racers’ event this Thursday, 2 June at 12:30pm.

Electrical, mechatronics and computer engineering students in their final year of study will pit their design skills against each other in a race to the finish.

Controlling their model cars with a standard TV remote and a wireless (WiFi or Bluetooth) connection, student engineers can use weapons to try and interfere with opponents’ vehicles. Each model car is equipped with a camera to send images back to a computer.

A huge amount of fun is had by the racers, while key principles from their study are demonstrated for the hordes of spectators who turn out for the ‘Wacky Racers’You can see a video of last year’s event here.

The 2014 edition is also online.

The assignment is about designing embedded systems – a device containing a micro-controller (small computer) plus some sensors and actuators. Real-life examples include circuits inside a cellphone, washing machine, car and most modern appliances.

Main marks for the student assignment come from an inspection of each vehicle, but students also aim to prove how they perform for real. The race is that opportunity.

The race follows a set course featuring various obstacles. Designers are awarded points for the number of laps completed. In the first two rounds, racer’s cars can smash other vehicles out of the way, but weapons are kept in reserve for the final ‘mayhem’ section: a free-for-all in the arena, trying to get points by taking photos of a set of targets placed around the arena while using weapons and/or tactics to prevent other groups getting photos.

The event will be held on Thursday 2 June at 12:30-1:30pm in the Undercroft, Puaka James Hight Building.

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