Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

UT RoboMaster team Stampede gears up for annual robotics competition

Courtesy of Robert Paine

In a room split in two, students gather on one side around a tank-like robot, listening to James Zhang talk about mechanics. On the other side, students sit with laptops ready to code and listen to instructions from Eddie Liao. Both sides of Stampede come together with the same goal — win.

Stampede engineers robots and competes for UT in the “3v3 match” of the RoboMaster University League, a yearly collegiate robotics competition. According to the league’s website, teams create three robots that use projectiles to attack their opponent’s robots and a buoy-like structure called the Base. The team with the highest Base health points at the end of the match wins.

Zhang, mechanical engineering senior and Stampede leader, said the competitions can be intense and feel almost like an e-sport.

“It’s like (Counter Strike: Global Offensive) or Call of Duty, but you’re doing robotics at the same time,” Zhang said.

Yuqi Pan, electrical and computer engineering senior and Stampede committee head, said the club divides itself into two teams: mechanical and embedded. The mechanical team works on designing the three physical robots, while the embedded team handles the code that runs the robots and controls their computer vision.

“We do a lot of hands-on learning that you don’t get in your classes,” Pan said.

This year, Pan said Stampede aims to increase communication between the two teams. At last year’s competition, Pan said they faced many problems, including not communicating about wire and electronics placement.

“Had (one) game ended two seconds before it did, we would have won,” Pan said. “We lost that match because one of our components in a robot died.”

Zhang, who works on the mechanical team, said Stampede works throughout the year on their robots, preparing for their annual summer competition. The mechanical team aims to design their robots in the first semester then run material tests and build the robots in the second. 

However, complications can arise, Zhang said. Last season, Stampede came out of winter break two months ahead of schedule, but due to part ordering delays, ended up two months behind schedule.

“That’s when things started to get more and more stressful,” Zhang said. “The pressure starts building more and we have to reel the team back on track.”

Lakshay Gupta, ECE sophomore and Stampede member, started with robotics in high school and said the team also holds fun socials for their members like getting dinner and playing foosball. Gupta said he finds the work rewarding, even one night before a workshop meeting when he and Liao, ECE sophomore and Stampede leader, stayed up until 1 a.m. debugging code.

“When we got the code to run, we were high-fiving,” Gupta said. “It was dope.”

Liao said a lot more members show up to meetings this year.

“A big problem when it comes to software is trying to get a lot of people to collaborate on it at the same time,” Liao said. “Right now, we’re just starting off with a lot of development setup.”

In only their second year, Stampede feels optimistic about their upcoming season. Pan said the RoboMaster League allows teams to recycle robot designs and code, which Stampede will use to improve upon their previous competitions.

“This game is a game of experience,” Pan said. “We’re hoping that we get better every year.”

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