Robot Soccer – Ball Sensor

Each year we have robotics teams that participate in the Robocup Junior Soccer competition. We usually have teams competing in both the standard league (LEGO) and the lightweight division. We typically find that the standard league teams use two HiTechnic IR Seeker sensors, one for the front and one for the rear. These sensors cost around $120 each and will require 2 of the 4 available input ports.

Our lightweight soccer team has also had to develop ball seeking capabilities for the custom soccer robots. It’s taken a number of seasons to get this just right and a lot of time has been spent to find the right sensors and tuning the code to accurately determine where the ball is.

With all of this work, we thought it was appropriate that we take this a step further and put together a board that provides 360 degree coverage and costs about the same as a single HiTechnic IR sensor. It of course needs to be compatible with the HiTechnic sensor, so much so that the same programming blocks could be used. Rather than having a range between 1 and 9 like the HiTechnic sensor, we’ve made our sensor have a range between 1 and 12 for each sensor in a clockwise direction.

We want to make these sensors available to all teams, so we are going to start making them available on our website to purchase for $120 AUD. Any funds raised will be used support our broader students robotics teams.

We are offering two different board layouts. One is suitable for standard (LEGO) teams, these have holes that will fit LEGO nicely. Our other configuration is suitable for lightweight teams and exposes I2C headers. The board can be programmed with a configured Arduino platform as it runs an Atmel SAMD21 processor. We are happy to provide source code if your team would like it.

This test program shows the use of the HiTechnic blocks to find the ball in a 360 degree direction
Sample Robot
Left – LEGO Hole Pattern / Right – Lightweight
Demo Robot – Programmed with Robot-C