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REALIZING
HUMANS
CAN’T DO
IT ALL
Getting a batch of balls into the lower goals proved a bit
harder than one might imagine. Given that the corner goals
were 54 feet (16.5 m) away from the human operators, 6 1/2
inches (16.5 cm) above the floor, and at the end of a 24-inch
(61 cm) -long, 15-degree slope, the target was relatively
small. The five other robots and stray balls on the field further
complicated the problem of quickly scoring in the lower goal.
Team
225 realized that given all of the field obstacles, an
integrated system of sensors and control was the only reliable
method to accurately and consistently score balls in the lower
goal. According to philosopher John Dewey, “a problem
well-defined is a problem half solved,” so in this case Team
225, from York, Pennsylvania, was halfway done with its
robot design.
The process began with a brainstorming session to identify
machine attributes and functions. The resulting list was
reviewed and prioritized to specify desirable robot compo-
nents such as a four-wheel drive system, a 16-ball capacity
hopper, and control system needs. The team decided the
robot’s primary function was to score points in the lower goal.
To support that function, the robot needed an efficient ball
pick up, storage, and delivery system.
A conceptual sketch of the machine was created based on
the team’s list of desirable features. These concepts were
refined in drawings produced in the team’s CAD lab. The
machine’s parts were then fabricated from the drawings.
Then, the parts were assembled and tested, with a monitoring
and control system created to transform the independent
systems into a robot.
SENSORS
CONTROL
THE SHOW
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The first sketch is an exciting development in
the life of a robot. Such a sketch usually follows
a discussion of robot criteria and constraints,
and the determination of robot functions.
Progressing from a quick hand sketch to
detailed computer models refines and aligns the
robot design. The computer models add defini-
tion and force-size constraints and system inte-
gration concerns to be honored.
Once a plan is clear, parts can be manufac-
tured. Machines ranging from hand drills to com-
puter driven mills are used to make robot parts.
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Computer models allow the design to be
developed as a series of components that
are virtually integrated. Here, the design begins
with the robot base and a superstructure is
added. Conveyor belts are added to the
superstructure to complete the design.
Models of the drive system facilitate integra-
tion of the motors and transmission with the
wheels. An accurate computer model specifies
the chain path between the components.
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Innovation in Control Award
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Even the electrical distribution system is
modeled to ensure the arrangement is compati-
ble with the rest of the robot. The layout plan is
an installation template and can be used to
plan wire paths between the fuse panel and
individual motors.
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In addition to serving as a planning tool for
layout, computer models also yield construction
plans that are necessary to fabricate parts.
Team 225’s robot base and drive system is
constructed from material supplied in the Kit of
Parts. The components are designed for FIRST
teams and can be assembled using hand tools.
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