Derbots are independent robot vehicles, guided not by a human controller but by their own built-in mini computer or microcontroller. Similar microcontrollers can be found in washing machines, microwaves and cars, and give a machine a degree of ‘intelligence’ in choosing the actions it takes. Contestants are drawn from the University’s electrical and electronic engineering, sound, light and live event technology, music technology and audio system design degree courses.


Teams begin with the same basic parts but can modify their Derbot, including with light and sound sensors. Each device completes a set track, negotiating obstacles and moving objects around. Points are awarded for speed and accuracy of operation.


Tim Wilmshurst, University Head of Subject for Electronics and Sound, designed the Derbots. His textbook on how to design them has been used by engineers and electronic ‘hobbyists’ all over the world.


He said: “This challenge came out of a subject called Embedded Systems, the science behind the tiny computers put into consumer electrical goods and other products to give them a degree of ‘intelligence’.

“It’s a big industry and the competition helps students learn vital skills for that kind of work environment.


“Making students of different nationalities work together in teams for the challenge is important as, once in the industry, they could be working in a development team including people from many countries.”


2010 Derbot


Eight teams of three students from its School of Technology will pitted their home-made ‘Derbots’ against each other in an obstacle course time-trial, to find the most successful model. The international event includes students from Libya, Belgium, Zimbabwe, the Isle of Man and England.




First place to: Lewis Gorford, Loftee Elshalaa and Steven Jones



The winning team received £90 and a prize of technical equipment sponsored by Phaedrus Systems of Tamworth, a consultancy in embedded safety-critical and high-integrity engineering projects. The team placed second received £60



Second place to : Khalid Amhamed, Christopher Krolik and Adrian Tullett


Phaedrus Systems presented the prizes and gave a short talk to the students on Robotics and the embedded industry. Also present were Radio Derby and Central TV news indicating that technology is interesting to the population at large




Third place to: Kristof Jacobs, Sarah Poole and David White