Gondwana is a small planet orbiting a star on the outer fringes of the Milky Way. Rich in natural resources, the Gondwanans mine and distribute precious metals throughout the Galaxy. To separate the metals from the mined ore a highly acidic and toxic chemical is used. In case of a catastrophic failure of the chemical containment vessels, an emergency system for distributing neutralising pellets to various locations around the bunded processing plant, (Link to “bunded” definition), is required by the socially and environmentally conscious mining company. The acidic chemical will dissolve common engineering materials within seconds so the pellet deployment system must not touch the chemical surface. The accompanying release of toxic gases necessitates all personnel evacuate the plant so the deployment system must be autonomous.
The people of Earth have exhausted their economically viable source of a precious metal used in their fusion reactors. They are desperate for the Gondwanans to start supplying their refined metal but refining can’t start until all health and safety concerns have been addressed. The method of deploying the neutralising pellets is the last hurdle that is baffling the Gondwanan engineers.
Stimulated by the desperate need for the metal, engineering students from Earth have risen to the challenge of developing a system to deliver the correct number of pellets to four silos that will release the pellet contents in the event of a chemical containment emergency. They will build and demonstrate a proof of concept autonomous system that will precisely deliver the correct number of pellets to four silos. Over the last 33 years, engineering students have rendered invaluable assistance with such engineering problems, and on this thirty-fourth occasion, the Gondwanans again seek help from these budding engineers to demonstrate a solution.
For the Gondwanans to begin refining and shipping an essential precious metal all environmental and health and safety protection measures must be installed. The last system to implement is a means of autonomously deploying ten pellets of a chemical neutralising agent to four silos strategically located around the refining plant. Due to varying depth of chemical, each silo requires a different number of pellets. Rapid deployment will reduce damage to the plant equipment and the release of toxic gas. The deployment system must not contact the chemical surface within the bunded area and rapid return of the deployment system is essential to avoid irreparable damage.
Prototype a reduced scale proof of concept system that precisely delivers ten tennis balls that represent the neutralising pellets, into four vertical tubes of different heights that simulate the silos A, B, C and D, Higher tubes are representative of the higher quantity of neutralising agent required in that silo. The autonomous system will start from a safe area, defined by the Start/End zone, Figure 1. The system will be loaded with up to ten pellets by the team and when activated will deliver the appropriate number of pellets into each tube and return to the Start/End zone. The maximum time the deployment system can be over the chemical is 120 seconds after system activation so the system must have returned to the Start/End zone within that time. The system may contact any surface within the Start/End zone and only the silos in the red Bunded zone
The objective is to design, build and demonstrate a proof of concept scaled prototype pellet deployment system in a laboratory environment. Points will be earned when your autonomous system starts entirely within the Start/End zone and delivers the pellets into each of four vertical tubes. The required number of pellets to be deposited in each tube is shown in Figure 1. Further points will be scored when the entire system returns to being fully to the Start/End zone side of the vivid black line, Figure 1, in less than 120 seconds, faster systems will be preferred. Preferably all ten pellets will be correctly deposited but fewer will earn points.