Power Up!

Kickoff: the day in which the next season's FIRST Robotics Competition game is released, allowing a team to begin the arduous and extraordinary process of game and rule analysis, strategy, design, fabrication, electronics, and programming. Today marks the first day of this six week period, for many students the last one we'll ever experience. 

Today was packed- nearly sixty individuals crowded into K2 this morning at around 6:30 PST to decide our 2018 Robot name and attend kickoff. The team decided to name this year's robot Emma, the Embryologist. 

The game is FIRST Power Up, an arcade-themed challenge in which robots attempt to gain control of their alliance's Switch, a central Scale, and their opposing alliance's Switch in order to incrementally score points during a match. Robots can gain control of their alliance's switch by placing Power Cubes, thirteen inch square milk crates, onto each side. Power cubes can also be given to an alliance's Human Player on their respective alliance station wall by entering the cube into the Exchange Zone, where it is entered into that alliance's Vault to score points and earn Power Ups. At the end of the match, robots may climb onto the central scale to score additional points, and may also hang from/climb on other team's robots. 

Today, we began with an intensive rule analysis to ensure all members know the game thoroughly. We conducted a game simulation, as well-after tracing a 1:1 scale model of the Arcade onto asphalt, humans pretended to be robots in order to learn how to play the game. This allowed our strategists to develop insight into the role the Vault, Scales, and Switches will play during the match, and how Power Ups could be utilized to most effectively score points.

We calculated the absolute maximum score an alliance could earn in one match for comparison purposes (in green) , and a projected week one score bracket (in orange): https://i.imgur.com/aFuD1yC.jpg

After the team fully understood the game, we worked to develop a general robot requirements list. In order to be highly competitive, our robot must:

  • Score Power Cubes onto the Switch
  • Score Power Cubes into the Exchange and Vault
  • Climb to earn ranking points
  • Score Power Cubes onto the Scale
  • Intake Power Cubes from the floor

We determined that leaving out any of these objectives could be problematic if no robots on our alliance are able to complete these tasks. For example, if no robot on our alliance can manipulate the scale, then as long as the other alliance has at least one robot which can, the match is essentially decided based on the 125 points the scale could possibly award (considering the usage of a Force Power Up)

Using these fundamental robot requirements, we were able to begin setting derived and driven requirements for our other systems, currently divided into three rough areas.

  1. Linear Lifting Structure: concerned with housing the Cube Manipulator and Climb subassemblies. Must be able to:
    1. tentatively reach a maximum height of seven feet,
    2. structurally support the weight of the robot in tension
    3. structurally support the weight of the gamepiece in addition to it's own structure in compression.
    4. compact to a minimum height of 55 inches
    5. vary in height continuously
  2. Climb: concerned with lifting the robot at the end of the match to climb the scale. Must be able to:
    1. lift our robot one foot above the platform zone
    2. hook onto the rung or another robot with similar lifting style
    3. complete a climb in seven seconds or less
  3. Cube Manipulator: concerned with manipulating the Power Cube game elements. Must be able to:
    1. intake Power Cubes from the floor
    2. mount to the Linear Lifting Structure
    3. outtake Power Cubes to the Switch
    4. outtake Power Cubes to the Scale
    5. outtake Power Cubes to the Exchange
    6. handle cubes from all directions

We decided to use our standard 6WD WCD drivetrain for this game due to the relatively flat and familiar surfaces. However, CAD analysis of the drivetrain ground clearance profile suggests that the bottom of the chassis would have less than one eighth inch of clearance from the platform zone ramp at the closest point. For this reason, we decided to use six inch wheels to refrain from concerns which might arise from driving onto the platform zone at an angle. We have not yet decided an objective floor speed or if we plan to use pneumatics in this robot for a shifting gearbox.

Tomorrow, our objectives are to take the rules test, resume discussion, research existing mechanisms, begin fabricating game elements, and begin prototyping for potential designs.