Collaborative Robot Design Project

Ok, I’ve mostly been a watcher on these forums, never really initiating anything, but I’ve kind of been thinking of this new project concept and I finally decided to give it a go.

We all have seen what a team can do in 6 weeks, how complex and intricate the robots can get. My idea is to bring anyone interested into a virtual design meeting. As many people from as many teams who are interested. The game is the same as this year, and after seeing other designs, and seeing what works well, and what doesn’t’t, along with the strategies that work the best, come up with the “ultimate robot” for triple play. I would like to keep the design time to a week or two. The reason is I want it to stay within the bounds of first, and In order to do that we should constrict the time we have to design. The goal is to produce a full 3d model, and cad drawings. I honestly don’t know who would be interested in doing this. So I guess this project depends on interest, if there is enough interest, I will set up everything to facilitate the design 100% on line.

The Goals:

  1. You thought it was hard to design a robot with everyone in the same room, wait until you are dealing with people possibly in another country!

  2. Presentation skills will get a boost as you present you ideas to a large group of people (hopefully).

  3. Learn to come together as an engineering team in a short period of time. In the real world of engineering you will not always work with the same people, and this presents a challenge in and of itself, because now you are dealing with people who you just met, and you are expected to work with them. Not everyone’s opinions will be the same, and it will take a lot of patience, but in the end I believe you will be better at adapting to your working environment.

  4. Free time killer, not that any of us have any, but if you’re like me, designing things is fun, and I think this will be a fun experiment.

  5. Since you will be working with people who you’ve never worked with before, you will hopefully be exposed to new thought processes and ideas that perhaps you might have never thought of.

  6. To learn about the engineering processes involved with designing a robot. I know everyone involved with this has most likely been involved with the design of a robot, but I am also willing to bet that not everyone has been involved with the actual engineering that goes into assuring the parts will function as planned.

Who knows, this could turn out really good, and we might have a lot of fun. Doing this project 100% on line presents a host of new challenges. Some company’s work this way, maybe not 100% but a high percentage is done on line. A company I know does it in this way, Perhaps they are working on a project, well, the engineers here in the US will work on it during their day, then transmit there files and notes to another firm in say Australia, and then again at the end of their work day to Scandinavia, then back here to the US so that when the engineers come into work, on their computer is waiting for them more plans, and notes to continue to work off of. I know that we will face many of the same challenges as not all of us are in the same time zone, and we all have other obligations like school, and work.

I’m not sure if this is a good idea, or even if this will work, but if enough people are interested, I mean truly interested in attempting such a thing, let me know about it, and Perhaps we can set it up. It would be nice to do this before the nationals, but it dosn’t have to.

The more I think about it, the more ideas I seem to come up with. If there is truly enough interest, and we do finish before Nationals and have decent time, and if we use the kit gearboxes and chassis (for speed) how neat would it be to all go down to nationals, and while there build the robot in the pits and actually compete with it. I know this is even more unlikely, but I thought I would plant the seed of imagination, because you never know where it will take you, and frankly I believe nothing is impossible.

If I were you, I’d talk to teams 60 and 254 before trying this. They did a two-team collaboration in 2004. From what I’ve heard, they had some communications problems, but they still did fairly well at whatever competitions one or the other went to.

It sounds like a very interesting idea. I’d be interested in helping out. I already have most of my teams bot designed and I think somethings could be easily migrated to a new design. I know my teams arm is nothing amazing(there are defenitly better designs) but I really like our two speed shifter using the kit gearboxes and our special magic bumpers which are unique and worked well in tests(not in competition because we haven’t competed yet ;)) at making us unstopable. I could defenitly put together a quick presentation and present it to an online group.

sounds like a great idea, video confrencing for this i believe would be essential, and i do believe all the designers should be in the same time zone that would be pretty helpful also, and the closer you are to each other the better it is. But if you do this you’d need to start soon, because the extra organization will slow you down by at least a week.

team 1083 was trying to do a project last summer like this with my team,180 and 179… we were going to build a full robot though…we had a few meetings and all…it didn’t fully work out…perhaps we can try it again this summer

i hope something works out…such a cool idea to learn stuff from other teams

The immediate plan is to determine interest. Which means I have to sit on my butt for a few days and see how many would seriously consider doing this. This would primarily be for design, and is unlikely that it will be built, although the everyone bring a small peice idea would keep the cost’s down, and prove that designing a robot on the web could work. You’re right about video conferencing, and keeping it in the same time zone would simplify things, but I would rather not exclude anyone from this experience.

I think it would be fun for school FIRST teams, if they have time and a place to meet all year, to build a robot that gets worked on all year, and the same robot gets improved from year to year, added to, programming, new sensors, vision system, speech synthesis, object manipulation…

I dont know what it would do, what its purpose would be or what tasks/functions it would perform, but with the spare parts from a FIRST kit you could really put together something that is well beyond what most highschool ‘robotics clubs’ are able to accomplish

It’s definitely a revolutionary idea; the collaboration that our team’s had with 22 and 60 is much less extensive than what you have proposed here. Here are some things I learned over the past couple years.

In our collaboration, there are only three teams working together - 22, 60, and 254 - and all of us are in relatively close geographic proximity. It’s much easier to communicate when you’re geographically close, even with instant communication thru email and phone; it’d be hard for a team to collaborate with someone (or multiple “someones”) several time zones away.

Also, throughout the build season, all three of our teams got together on multiple occasions to machine parts together, to look at drawings together, and to just hang out. A collaboration isn’t just about building robots - it’s building relationships with people who you wouldn’t normally meet, let alone codesign a 130 lb machine with. Not being able to see your collaboration partners until nats would take something out of that relationship.

And you’re right, coreyjon, it’s already pretty tough to get people to agree on a single design when they’re all on the same team - and it’s ten times that every time you bring another set of people into the mix. It’s no doubt that every new team brings a new set of ideas that could greatly improve the design, every new team also brings its own protocols, its own team dynamics, its own way of doing things. Getting everyone on the same page would be the biggest challenge in a project like this.

Even though I’m unsure if we can pull this off before Nats, I still greatly admire your ambition. Innovative, revolutionary, and seemingly impossible ideas like this are the true essence of FIRST. My hat’s off to you.

Team 217 and 229 collaborated this year, and it has turned out awesome. We both have the same shuttle and arm design, and it has worked out great, as you can probally see in this pic.

I’d definitely be interested in this. My thesis is going to be in the New Product Development / Design area. My boss / thesis advisor works with team 578, so I’m sure I can get approval to spend some time working on and evaluating collaborative design efforts.

Team 217 and 229 collaborated this year, and it has turned out awesome.

Yes, i’d have to say though this was a harder year than ever before for our team, however this robot is the best one we have built so far. I’d say working with another team is the way to go, its just so cool, even if they are in Michigan and we are in New York. The robots we made this year are awesome.

heres a question for some of the teams that have successfully had a collaborative design, the one variable i’ve believe there would be in competition is driver and operator skill, did you guys find any other differences, or simularities outside of your robots?