Best intake designs over the Years

Wanted to create a thread to discuss what people think is the best intake design. This considering it’s overall effectiveness and unique design possibly. I would like to nominate 2046 2471 1318 and of course 254 for their designs this year.

FRC47’s 2002 robot (CD7) had one of the most revolutionary intake designs of all time. It was copied heavily in nearly every ball game since.

I think that 1114’s 2015 intake definetely qualifies for this list. Their idea of 2 sets of wheels, with one of them being able to actuate, definetely proved to be one of the most reliable intakes in FRC. Combined with a solid drivebase and elevator, I feel like that robot was a beast.

I liked 254’s intake a lot. I talked to them in Houston, and they explained that they made it out of polycarbonate, making it super light

At the risk of bragging, I’d like to highlight a unique feature of our intake. It looks like a pretty standard roller claw (with the frame cut away enough to allow the cubes to rotate on the way in) but there’s a secret: The pneumatic cylinders that open and close the claw are actually controlled by two solenoid valves - one that sends them 60 psi, and one that sends them 30-40 psi (the two pressure supplies are merged through a shuttle valve). This lets us have three intake modes:

  1. Closed, “soft grip”, used for intaking from the floor
  2. Closed “hard grip” used for lifting cubes, and also for “shooting”
  3. Open, used for dropping cubes straight down, and during auto to give us more misalignment allowance

This flexibility means we don’t have to trade off between having a soft enough grip to intake, but hard enough to hold on to a cube during fast maneuvers, and we don’t need a secondary grip mechanism. As a result we almost never drop a cube, even if it’s sideways. The grip strengths are tied in code to the wrist movement, so the operator doesn’t ever have to think about it. Our prototyping team discovered the need for the three grip modes by making careful measurements during week 2 of build season. I’m really proud of their work.

This is an easy to miss feature, but it gives us a huge advantage. I hope that sharing it inspires other teams to copy and improve it in future.

wow that sounds very convenient and very versatile especially considering the 11 inch side versus the 13 inch side of the cube this year


971’s intake from this year is crazy. Instead of making the intake flex mechanically using a spring or pneumatics, everything is done in software. This not only follows their “Spartan Approach” in making everything adjustable in software without changing the physical robot, but also gives them the ability to adjust the power of each side of the intake perfectly to grab the cubes just right.

971 basically any year, but my favorite has 2013.

Their 2014 one was also really sweet as it handled bouncing balls really well, something most other intakes couldn’t do that year. See a pattern here? 971 just knows their intakes.

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CD 2002 is pretty much the only thing you need on this list when it comes to a ball intake, teams have been copying this for 16 years.

45 & 177 - 1998 were the first 2 roller claw intakes designed.

Almost everything else is based on those 3 designs.

Others of note:
173 - 2002
33 - 2006
254 - 2009
1114 - 2006, 2009, probably other that I can’t remember too.
148 - 2007

1114 in 2008 created a design archetype for effective bots in 2014 with their intake design, that robot deserves all the praise it gets. In 2013 and 2014 971 had the best intakes in the world IMO because of the clever ways they did active centering. 971 in 2014 is one of my all time favourite bots. I also think the 2015 argument of claw vs roller intakes has been pretty definitively answered: rollers are generally better.

330 in 2005 stands as one of the smartest, simplest, most elegant manipulators. World Champion MCC.

Most innovative intakes I’ve seen come when we have to intake something new and weird.
1114 2015 is the obvious one in terms of who copied them both during that year and in 2018, but also the different frisbee intakes from 2013 were influential in gear intakes for 2017. 2007 roller claws were influential in 2011.

148 2010 was hugely influential in helping teams figure out how to consistent grab the soccer balls without pulling them all the way in.

Who did the first mecanum intakes? I remember 179 from 2015, but I’m sure they weren’t the first to do those.

2767 Stryke Force’s gear intake in 2017 was amazingly fast. It really helped them on cycle time.

I think, we in 2017 had an very effective ground intake for gears:


just getting the link for you.

This thread is useless without pics and details of why a certain intake design is good(looking at you OP).

Internally on 95 we look to 2 of our old robots for intake inspiration.

Fyenman from 2002: full-width rollers but covered in carpet grip and with curved front contours that allowed balls to hit the rollers first and then guide them in. Our first truly high-speed intake where the rollers ran 2-3x the linear free-speed of the robot. He was capable of collecting ~20 soccer balls off of the side of the field in a few seconds.

Then in 2012 we developed our ‘carwash’ intake. Able to collect at full speed using no-slip carpet material and over-the-bumper deployment.

Whenever there is a round game object we use these two machines as a starting point because they were simple, fast, and effective.

That is a very interesting design. It seems rather simple too

Spectrum and Titanium in 2014 come to mind. Don’t know if they came up with the idea or if someone who was a little less visible came up with it first. I can’t imagine many people used vectored intake wheels effectively before 2014.

It is, super simple. That’s what it makes it so effective IMO. Just drive over the gear.

How is everyone saying 971 but nobody is mentioning 971 2016? Easily one of the best and most effective intakes that year, maybe ever. It had variable ball compression by changing the arm angle, it stowed nicely on the robot, and could pick up boulders on nearly the entire front side of the robot with the vectored intake wheels. Combine that with the collision avoidance that contoured to the arms unfolding and it’s easily my favorite intake of all time.