Our current plan is to create a climber that is basically a cylinder that has bolts sticking out of it (like a stegosaurus tail). It would be spinning at around 300rpm. An mounted directly above the wheels on one side of a KOP drivetrain.
There are a lot of exposed spinning climbing mechanisms this year, and I was wondering about meeting safety requirements. Would it have to be shielded if the field? Warning labels? What should we expect?
The rule that applies here is R06. If everything is pointing in the same direction, that is more likely to be approved by your inspector than protrusions going at multiple angles (like a jack for you old timey folks) as that could create a pinch point.
This is going to be a very common feature on many robots this year, and is going to be one of the toughest calls made by LRI’s. Usually, the terms “sharp” and “300 rpm” scream guards. But this year putting guards around a climbing mechanism has the potential to limit the mechanism’s effectiveness.
I have a fear that these cases will be handled on an event to event, and robot to robot basis with each LRI making their own judgement calls. As an LRI in training, I would love to hear some guidance from Al about how these mechanisms should be treated.
In order to increase the odds that your mechanism will be legal, make sure to take some steps to increase the level of safety of the mechanism. Being able to show an inspector “we did X, Y, and Z to make this mechanism safe” will go a long ways towards getting a thumbs up for your robot.
Some things I’d try to do:
Demonstrate the climber is software protected. In other words, make it so that the climber won’t go off without the driver wanting it to. This could include a safety button or something similar that won’t allow the climber to go without the button being hit first.
Increase the “stegasauraus spike” diameter to the maximum functional diameter you can. If I see a punch of needle-like spikes on your climber, I’d feel a lot worse than if I saw 1/4" protrusions.
-Try to mount your climber in a way such that there are no pinch points. Make it difficult to get your hand caught in your climber.
-Along those same lines, put all the guards in place that you can that won’t compromise functionality. A guard that doubles as a guide for the rope would seem to be a good design choice.
I really hope there is some clarity on how these cases will be handled.
Preferably some sort of hard lock to (like a pin) to keep it from going when you’re not on the field or intentionally testing it somewhere
Kinda like the safety locks team had on their catapults in 2014 or on their can grabbers in 2015.
There is a distinct difference between many this climber and many of the catapults/can grabbers: this mechanism required motors to put power into the mechanism to make it move whereas many of the catapults and can grabbers required power to keep them from moving. When the robot isn’t on, a spring loaded mechanism is a lot scarier than a motor powered one. A pin might still be a good idea, but it would only be useful when you want to test one mechanism on the robot and not worry about the climber starting up. You can effectively do the same thing in software by making the driver press two buttons to start the climber instead of one button that could get pressed by accident.
Our climber sounds quite similar. I might still like some improvements to it, but we we’ve put our hands into the bolts as they are spinning (1/4-20 socket heads are the leading edge) and it doesn’t really hurt, even. Now if someone had long hair or loose jewelry it would be a problem, but those are problems with or without a climber.
When inspectors judge the safety of one of your mechanisms, you get different results depending on which inspector you get. Sometimes you fly through inspection with something that I don’t want to stand anywhere near (2014 was a good year for this) and other times you have to spend a lot of time filing down corners that no one will ever touch.
In general, if you’ve made some sort of effort to make the mechanism safer by adding guards or big bright warning labels, you will have an easier time getting through inspection.