Our Robots...

Nova (2018-2019 Deep Space)

Goal: Create a multi-purpose robot capable of scoring both game pieces and climbing to the highest level during the endgame.

Competitive Advantage: “Beak” senses presence of hatch and automatically opens to hold the game piece in place. Internal elevator lifts the robot inches to get onto the platform.

Significant Challenges: Extending our intake beyond the bumper left it vulnerable to damaging contact. We made our intake arms out of resilient polycarbonate.

Inspiration: Had an intake similar to 2014’s Chuck. Level 3 climber was inspired by elevators on 2018’s competitive robots.

Configuration: Double-ended; Cargo intake on one side of the robot and hatch mechanism on the opposite. Climber integrated into structure of robot.

Result: Level 3 climb occurred in all but three of our matches. 12 game pieces scored during tele-op in our best match.

Feature List:                          

  • The mechanical engineering complements the controls: there is positive mechanical alignment for the hatch gripper at interface positions and spring-loaded alignment rollers engage field features for left/right correction.
  • Vision code identities and tracks reflective targets at hatch interface position.
  • Software takes control of robot path using finely-tuned PID algorithm.
  • A robust system for quickly climbing level 3 was integrated into the robot early into the design phase, including careful positioning of the center of gravity.
  • The climbing sequence originally required a complex series of button presses, but now is almost fully automated.
  • Automating the picking and placing motions dramatically reduces loading/unloading time.
  • The number of points of failure increases with the number of actuators on the robot.
  • The climbing winch lifts the robot but also deploys the climbing elbows.
  • The cargo intake roller gathers the cargo from the field but also indexes it into the shooter.
  • The hatch mechanism passively extends and locks a four-bar mechanism at the beginning of a match.

Spark (2017 - 2018 Power Up)

Goal: Create a robust robot that is laser-focused on scoring floor-level cubes – from the portal to the opponent’s switch, from the pyramid to the exchange.
Competitive Advantage: Quickly secures both switches so our alliance partners can concentrate on scale scoring.
Significant Challenges: Packaging multiple systems into smallest footprint that fits below the height of the portal, managing matches where our partners cannot score on the scale.
Inspiration: Tiny robots from SteamWorks that could complete one task more quickly than their multi-function counterparts.
Configuration: Conveyor pivots upwards from drive base to allow gripper to place cubes from the floor into the switch.
Result: Scored thirteen total cubes in one match (combined switch and exchange).
Feature list:

  • Powered conveyor deck allowing cubes from the portal to pass through the robot on the way to the opponent’s switch – no turning around leads to lightning-fast cycle times.
  • Servo-driven tail gate spans the bumper gap for portal loading and then tilts up to prevent the cube from falling out during impacts from defenders.
  • Intake wheel geometry sucks cubes into frame perimeter, securing them for transport to the switch or exchange.  Intake resides within frame perimeter at other times to protect form collisions.
  • Tube-in-tube bumper brackets provide easy attachment of climber module.
  • Our first implementation of west coast drive allows easy servicing of worn wheels.
  • Reliable two-cube-in-switch autonomous creates a head start for near switch control.

Pepper (2016-2017 STEAMWORKS)

Goal: Create a multi-purpose robot capable of scoring gears, scoring in the high efficiency boiler and climbing onto the airship.
Competitive Advantage: Adaptable to different styles of play – from cycling gears to popping in a few fuel to break a tie.
Significant Challenges: Packing all systems into the volume restrictions including five systems just for fuel (pick up, elevator, sorter, indexer, and shooter).
Inspiration: 2012 robot Shifty’s elevator for collecting and raising fuel.
Configuration: Hopper pivots upwards from drive base to allow full access to electronics.
Result: Climbed successfully in more than 90% of matches, scored a side goal and ten fuel in the same autonomous.
Feature list:

  • Two-Slot shooter (with PID control) allowing fast multi-fuel shooting.
  • Actuated gear catch fills the bumper gap between gear feeder ramp and robot.
  • Pneumatic gear ejector to push the gear straight onto the peg.
  • Two-Speed 4-CIM drive for fast cycling and pushing power.
  • Self-Sorting fuel slots prevent bridging without additional actuators.
  • Ten autonomous modes for everything from shooting fuel to scoring gears to travelling the full length of the field.
  • References against the field wall for short range, high accuracy shooting.
  • Climber located at ground level for a smooth and controlled climb.

Skittles (2015 - 2016 STRONGHOLD)

Goal: Create a low bar capable, multi-defense defeating, high goal shooting robot capable of scoring 21 solo points per match.
Competitive advantage: Fast cycler able to traverse four classes of defenses to secure breach points, and contributes boulders to weaken tower.
Significant challenges: Fitting all mechanisms under low bar height, camera vision system to identify high goal targets, drive train able to traverse all defenses.
Inspiration: Wide intake from 2014 robot Chuck.
Configuration: Scorpion-themed rear intake with forward shooting system with height under 14.5″.
Result: Solo breach defences, or contribute six boulders to tower points equivalent to 80 points.
Feature list:

  • A dual-wheeled shooter with RPM feedback and PID matching of wheel speed.
  • Wide intake allows for capturing boulders without precise alignment.
  • Automated shooting using camera-based vision targeting system to set left/right position and release angle of the boulder.
  • Eight pneumatic wheels chain-driven through two-speed shifting gearbox.
  • Robust design that can withstand the torture of field defenses.
  • All systems packed into a 14.5″ height limitation imposed by the Low Bar defense.
  • Capable of shooting in both the high and low goals.
  • Multiple autonomous modes – cross defense, aim, and shoot high goal.
  • Custom drive base and other systems fabricated and assembled with simple tools.
  • Multi-purpose intake that allows for boulders to retain when crossing defenses, transferred to shooter, and activate Cheval de Frise and Portcullis. 

ROY G BIV (2014 - 2015 RECYCLE RUSH)

Goal: Create a “HP-fed stacker” class robot capable of stacking and scoring three totes in 60 seconds.
Competitive advantage: Optimizes use of the game’s most restrictive resource (human player chute) by allowing almost constant introduction of totes through chute door, creating a buffer stack of totes on opposite side of wall.
Significant challenges: Fit three robots into transportation configuration, unobtrusive tether, how does a stationary robot contribute during autonomous?
Inspiration: Material handling industry up-stackers.
Configuration: Three-part tethered robot to take advantage of relaxation of robot size constraint.
Result: By the end of season to be able to score two capped (recycling container and litter noodle) six-stacks plus eight individual totes for a total of 100 points per match.
Feature list:

  • ROY scored stacks of totes on scoring platform, captured upright recycling containers to add to BIV’s tote stacks.
  • G guided and positioned totes exiting the chute for consistent positioning.
  • BIV created stacks above G in preparation for ROY to take away and score.
  • Four wheel belt drive – 2 omnis at rear and two frictions at front.
  • Potentiometer for multiple preset push-of-a-button heights.
  • PID control with potentiometer feedback maintains elevator position until next command.
  • Combines three-high stacks to make six-high.
  • ROY’s carriage and hoist duplicated on BIV for common spare parts.
  • Simple controls – total of six motors (four of them on drive train).
  • Tote-on-a-rope for three-tote autonomous stacking – not used in competition.

Chuck (2013 - 2014 AERIAL ASSIST)

Goal: Create a highly accurate “finisher” class shooter capable of scoring one exercise ball in autonomous and three cycles in tele-op, total solo capability of 42 points per match.
Competitive advantage: Prioritized drive base, then ball acquisition, and then launcher. Identified non-defend-able sweet spot on the field for low risk, highly repeatable shooting.
Significant challenges: Finding a sufficient power source for catapult (multiple passes of spearfish gun tubing), premature wear of catapult shifting mechanism.
Inspiration: 2011 FRC robots (advantages of catapult vs. wheeled shooter).
Configuration: 6WD drop center wide configuration, intake opposite release.
Result: 28 for 28 two-ball auto at Champs, solo capability of 75 points.
Feature list:

  • Simple controls – total of six motors (four of them on drive train).
  • LED stips provide status to human player (when robot is stationary and ready to load).
  • Calibration jig allowed tuning of high goal shot before matches.
  • “Autosonic Ultratonomous” goalie pole added for autonomous use in off-season event.

Fling (2012 - 2013 ULTIMATE ASCENT)

Goal: Create a nimble “sniper” class frisbee shooter capable of scoring nine discs and low hanging, capable of scoring three discs in mid-goal per match.
Competitive advantage: Prioritized drive base, then disc acquisition, and then shooter. Calibration jig allowed tuning of high goal shot prior to matches.
Significant challenges: Packaging of wheeled shooter within frame perimeter.
Inspiration: FLL (use of field elements to localize/orient robot).
Configuration: 6WD, low enough to pass below pyramid bottom rung.
Result: Repeatable three-disc autonomous, highly accurate four or five cycle tele-op, fast low bar hang, solo capability of 88 points per match.
Feature list:

  • Simple controls – total of five motors (four of them on drive train).
  • Passive extension on shooter deck spans bumper gap between shooter deck and loading wall slot.
  • Climbing hooks used in tele-op to register on pyramid before shooting (confirmed by camera view on driver station).
  • PID control of shooter rpm using hall effect sensor.
  • Optional “trans-foamer” added prior to match to defend full court shooters.

Shifty (2011 - 2012 REBOUND RUMBLE)

Goal: Create a solid “support” class robot capable of acquiring foam basketballs for partner or own use.
Competitive advantage: Prioritized drive base, then ball acquisition, then bridge manipulator, and then shooter.
Significant challenges: Rookie learning curve, mongoose bridge actuator susceptible to damage, temptation to replace passer with shooter in last days of build resulted in raised centre of gravity and inconsistent gameplay.
Inspiration: Robots on www.thebluealliance.com, experience of our macMentors.
Configuration: 6WD skid steer KoP drive base in wide configuration to maximize ball acquisition and minimize bridge balancing footprint.
Result: Shooter capable of scoring low goal (occasionally).                                                                        Feature list:

  •  21” wide ball intake minimized need for accurate driving.
  • Able to feed alliance partners during autonomous.
  • Added bridge balance control software by the end of our one and only Regional.