Scuttle Track

Team Hermits

An exhilariting crab racing experience!

Welcome to Hermit Track, where crabs aren't just crustaceans but contenders in an exhilarating race to the finish line! This playful project immerses users in a lively, competitive atmosphere where they race a robotic crab around obstacles to a finish line. The project consists of a rectangular arena containing moving obstacles, ramps, and a finish line. Equipped with a toolkit of shovels, buckets and sand, two participants must race their robotic crab against each other to the finish line. The crabs are not controlled or interacted with directly; they simply move in a straight line and avoid objects ahead of them. Therefore, users must be creative and use their tools and the track to their advantage to effectively guide their crab. Placed in shopping centres, experience is all about embracing chaos and using strategy to outmanoeuvre your opponent. Users can also choose to sabotage their opponent’s crab to ensure victory, such as by trapping their crab behind a wall of sand. The primary theme of Hermit Track is embodied sociality, as it encourages shared and playful experiences between users. The goal of our project is to encourage meaningful, playful and social interactions that emulate the joy of playing on a beach for users in non-coastal locations, but also encourages a bit of chaos between them.

Technical Description

For our final prototype, two microbit cutebots are covered with a shell to protect the electronics from sand, and to represent hermit crabs for racing. These crabs are coded using python on the microbit website. By default, the bots travel in a straight line, but when the ultrasonic sensor on the bots detect an obstacle within 10cm, they will turn in a random direction at a random angle to avoid it. This randomness was added to create unpredictability and a more chaotic interaction for users. Users also cannot interact with the crabs directly, instead they have to use the tools provided to them - a shovel, bucket, and kinetic sand to interact with the crabs. The shovel can be used to scoop kinetic sand and block the crabs to change its direction. The bucket can be used to store sand, and the kinetic sand can serve as obstacles to block an opponent crabs path.

The track/table was built using wood, wood glue, screws and brackets, and has real sand glued to the base to promote an authentic beach experience. There are also images of different beach themed objects or animals painted on the base to give a playful aura to the table and add a point of interest for users. Throughout the table, six moving obstacles can block the crab’s paths, which users must navigate their crab around. These obstacles consist of objects attached to 3D printed linear actuators, which are controlled by FS5106B servo motors using. The motors are powered by two Arduino Uno boards underneath the table, programmed using Arduino IDE. The obstacles were placed to encourage creativity and strategy by users to navigate their crab around. There are three obstacles at the start of the track, with a large obstacle in the middle that users can choose to attempt to go through, or use a ramp on either side. Next to the finish line, there are two more obstacles that are intentionally difficult to avoid as a “final boss” for users. Once one of the crabs reaches the finish line, they are detected by an ultrasonic sensor and they win the race, with lights turning on and a victory sound playing.