« 2015 — Mantis


Mantis capping a stack of four totes with a Recycling Container

Game robot was designed for: Recycle Rush

Brief Game description: Robots stack totes onto scoring platforms up to six tall, and cap them with recycling containers to triple the scores of the stacks.  Additionally, pool noodles, called “Litter”, can be placed into recycling contrainers for additional points.  For more information on the game visit http://www.usfirst.org

Frame: Aluminum sheet and C-Channel, and Dal-Tile Screed Aluminum for arm structure.

Drive System: Four 6″ mecanum wheels each powered by an AndyMark ToughBox Mini. Each of the four gearboxes provides a reduction of 12.75:1.  The approximate maximum speed of the robot’s wheels is 10 ft/s, but due to the nature of mecanum drive, it moves slower.

Manipulator: A chain-driven lift that delivers an arm system from the floor to the top of a six-tote stack.  The arms are two positions on two axes (up and down, open and closed), and there are two “hands” driven by window motors on the end of each arm that grip the recycling container.  Each hand includes a potentiometer to measure position.   Additionally, there is a set of “drop-down” arms on the back of the robot to pull extra recycling containers off the step during autonomous mode.  They are driven pneumatically.

New Concepts: Mecanum drive, which allows a robot to strafe as well as drive like a tank.

Components Discarded: Alternate drop-down arm for grabbing cans during autnomous mode.

The 2015 season provided several technical challenges, including implementing independentally-driven mecanum drive for the first time.  Learning to program and drive the machine proved difficult, and required us to design a second base to test while the robot was “bagged”.  We learned that mecanum drive has limited potential, but makes it easier to “slide” a robot into position.

Strategically, we initially ran into issues where teams could not build tall stacks for us to place recycling containers on, so our robot was not as effective as we would have liked to see.  However, as the season progressed, and our can-grabbing arms were refined, we found ourselves beginning to become more of an asset to teams reaching for higher scores.  In fact, at the World Championship event, we were chosen by the #1 alliance (comprised of Team #1023 – Bedford Express, Team #2338 – Gear it Forward, and Team 3996 – RIKITIK), and were crowned Champions of the Archimedes Division.  We got the opportunity to play on Einstein, where were World Semifinalists!

This season showed us that a great strategy during design can truly bring you to the next level. We hope to take this lesson with us in the future!