6.270 | January IAP 2005 | Undergraduate

Autonomous Robot Design Competition


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 13 sessions / 4 weeks, 3 hours / session

Kits and Tools

The 6.270 kit, valued at about $1500, is yours to keep at the end of the contest. This is made possible by financial support from the EECS department and the course’s commercial sponsors. If your team does not present a robot to the Organizers at the qualifying round of the competition, or if you are asked to leave the course, you will be required to forfeit the kit back to the EECS department. Teams who do not return the entire kit when asked will be charged the full $1500 through the office.

There are tools available for in-lab electronics work, but these resources will probably be over-burdened, especially towards the end of IAP. Therefore, in addition to the kit, a set of tools will be reserved for purchase by your team. This set will include all of the tools necessary for building your robot (i.e. soldering iron and stand, wire cutters, long nose pliers, etc.). You will be expected to either provide your own electronic assembly tools or purchase them from the Organizers. Since 6.270 buys in bulk, the prices of the tools will be lower than what you can find elsewhere. It is very important that you have a good set of your own tools to work with.

Laboratory Facilities

During the course of constructing your robot, you will have access to workspaces, tools, and computers in the following areas:

EECS Laboratory

The EECS laboratory is the center of activity for the course. This lab is supervised by the 6.270 staff, and other teams will be present to share ideas with. Among the useful facilities in this lab are workbenches for building your robot, computers for programming, and two contest tables for testing.

The lab will be open and staffed from 9 am to 11:45 pm on weekdays and noon to 10 pm on weekends. During the final few days of the course, the lab may be open 24 hours a day. If you need to call the lab, you can, but please do not place or receive personal calls too often. The phone line needs to be kept available for official use, and the staff is too busy to run a personal messaging service. If you order food to eat elsewhere, from the lab phone, make sure you can be found.

Since this lab is on loan to 6.270 by the EECS department, you will be expected to be on your best behavior. Do not touch equipment not explicitly meant for 6.270 use and treat the lab staff with respect. Be aware that when the equipment desk workers are ready to close the lab, you should be going out the door. Abuse of the lab or its staff will not be tolerated.

Other Facilities

If you have the appropriate cable, you can also program your robot at most server workstations. You may not, however, solder, cut, or glue in the clusters, and you must be respectful of others when operating your robot, since robots can be quite loud. Violations of server etiquette will result in severe action by the 6.270 Organizers.

Since the course software is available for a number of computer platforms, some students choose also to program their robots from their own computers. Teams with access to laptops may find this option especially useful even when working in the lab, since it frees them from waiting for the lab computers. Unfortunately, due to the staff’s limited amount of time, technical support for personal computers must take low priority with respect to other duties.


When working in the lab or at the server, you will be expected to be respectful to those around you. The following guidelines should be adhered to at all times:

  • Noise - Your robot will be quite noisy. When working at the server, please minimize the operation of your robot. If others are disturbed by the noise, stop running the robot or move to another cluster.

  • Hardware - Do not solder, cut, or glue any hardware in the clusters or around the computers in lab. Debris can get lodged in the keyboards and damage the computer. Furthermore when working on the lab benches with solder or glue ensure you have cardboard underneath your working area to prevent damage to the tables, failure to do so may result in the loss of lab privileges.

  • Tidiness - Do not leave your stuff lying around lab. The lab will be crowded and people need places to work. Your team should try to limit the area that it uses to two workbenches, or one if the lab is very crowded.

  • Locked Screens - At the server, do not leave your screen locked for more than 20 minutes. In lab, any computer with a locked screen will be logged off. Repeated violations will result in a loss of computer privileges.

  • Multiple Machines - Do not log on at multiple machines. When the lab is crowded, please try also to minimize the number of people on your team who are logged on. The lab does not have enough computers to support everyone being logged on at once.

Violations of the rules of etiquette will not be tolerated and will be dealt with severely. If the Organizers receive complaints about any team causing a disturbance in the server clusters, that team will be required to return its kit and will be thrown out of the course. Repeated violations in lab will be dealt with by the Organizers on a case by case basis.

Credit Guidelines

6.270 is offered as MIT subject 6.185 for 6 units of Pass/No Record credit with the further option to receive 6 Engineering Design Points (EDPs). Taking the course for credit is optional, but you will be doing a lot of work anyway. Receiving credit will give you formal recognition on your transcript in addition to the academic credit.

It is the job of the instructors to ensure that credit is properly awarded to students deserving of it. In order to properly evaluate your performance, it is necessary that you report your work. The credit requirements are structured to allow your instructor to authorize credit and also assist you in the learning process.

The following guidelines must be completed in order to receive 6 units of academic credit, and if desired, 6 EDPs:

  • Robot Web Page - Each team must create a web page for its robot before impounding. The page should present information about the robot suitable for display to the general public. It should focus on the overall design and strategy of the robot including an explanation of anything particularly clever or unique. Each individual desiring credit must help with the work.

  • Assignment Completion - Seven assignments will be handed out during the first two weeks of the course. These assignments were made to help guide participants in making effective and competitive robots. Participants wanting credit are expected to complete the assignments on-time. Failure to complete the assignments on time will result in gradual penalties ultimately resulting in forfeiture of the competition.

  • Completed Robot - The team must “show” a robot at the qualifying round. Its functionality, or lack thereof, has no effect on the team’s members receiving credit for the work they have done.

These requirements are meant to be useful to both you, the class participant, and the instructors, who will be authorizing credit. You should have no trouble receiving credit if all of the requirements are satisfied. If you have any questions about your standing in the subject at any time, feel free to ask your instructor for feedback.

Please note that due to the scheduling constraints of the Registrar and the sanity of the Organizers, there is no leeway on any of the due dates. Please do not ask for extensions.

Course Info

As Taught In
January IAP 2005
Learning Resource Types
Competition Videos
Lecture Notes
Problem Sets
Design Assignments with Examples