WIT wins the war as Java robot tanks do battle

15 Mar 2004

Students from Waterford Institute of Technology have won the second annual Robocode programming competition – a virtual game where teams use the Java language to build robot tanks to fight against one another.

The team from WIT was the overall winner, receiving the Tipperary Crystal trophy and a Tadpole Talin Notebook pre-installed with the Java Desktop system, sponsored by BCS Computers and Sun Microsystems, which invented the Java programming language.

Competition entrants were required to use their programming abilities and advance their knowledge of graphical user interface programming, application programming interface usage and artificial intelligence to program their virtual tanks. The goal was to build a robot tank capable of defeating all other challengers.

The graphical tanks were programmed to avoid being hit and to move around an arena without any kind of manual control. The ‘arena’ in this case was a large computer monitor projected onto a wall.

The national final, held last Thursday in Tipperary Institute of Technology, consisted of a league, semi-final and final run over one day. During a short interview and inspection before the contest, each entrant met the judges and explained their Java code and Robocode Tanks’ behaviour. Using a software editor, programmers could adapt the skeleton tank to their own design and then test it to ensure that it behaved in a way that would help it to avoid defeat and last longer in battle.

The competition was open to first year third-level programming students and participating colleges included DCU, Queens University Belfast, NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, Blanchardstown IT, Griffith College, Tralee IT, Tipperary IT and Waterford IT.

By Gordon Smith