Crane idea....

What would your folks opinions be on the idea of a crane robot? Basically just a spinning crane that could raise up and down, and use a claw of some sort to pick up totes?

If the base can move around, and the whole thing isn’t taller than 6ft 6in, then it could work.

then it would be like the claw games at the arcade. it will take you forever to pick up one crate.

But here you can redesign the claw game so that the odds are in your favor.

I believe that picking up totes from the landfill pack will prove more difficult than most teams think.

Woah there Katniss

I don’t know how much emphasis you all put in the cameras of the bots, but to construct a crane bot will require a lot. One for looking with the crane, one for driving if you fancy.
Also, when all of the totes are close together or not at the perfect angle for the claws, picking up with the crane is made that much harder.
But I think it surely can be done and offers advantages.

I think the best strategy is somehow separate the totes from the wall…maybe a bar that just pushes the totes toward your side? That’ll also grant easy and quick access to the bins/totes on the step.

Or you can do something like Robot in 3 days:

this solution is more feasible if you want to use those bins right away

A crane would work, in fact cranes do that all the time in the real world they move stuff. The question you need to ask when developing a strategy is not “will it work?” because anything will work if fine tuned right the question we ask when theory crafting is “is this viable?”

Having the game field be in a snake format would make it hard for the other two robots on your team to move around. It would also be very expensive and there would be a lot of math involved.