Line following robots are often one of the first things the budding robot builder wants to try. Line followers typically detect a contrasting line laid out on the ground or a table top and try to run around following that line as closely as possible. These kinds robots have very real applications in factory automation and other industrial settings. Lessons learned from building line followers form a valuable basis for more advanced robotic topics making these ideal beginner projects.
Don’t be fooled into thinking there are not real challenges available for the line following robot builder.
The simplest line followers can start off with very simple components, a couple of motors and no on-board computer. The whole thing can be built in an afternoon and run around on a table top using aline drawn with a marker pen on a piece of paper.
At the highest contest levels though, these are sophisticated, fully autonomous robots that can learn complex course layouts and run them at great speed.
In this video, you can see the All Japan contest winner. During the first run, the robot learns and maps the course. There are then two further runs where the on-board computer can make use of that map to run each section as fast as possible. Hirai-san has won many line follower robot contests.
However, the following year he lost out to a relative newcomer:
UKMARS maintains the rules for the UK Line Follower Contest. The UK rules are very similar to the Japan Rules