Future of FRC Drivetrains?


NASA’s VIPER rover being developed at JSC to traverse the south pole of the moon has a similar mobility capability. VIPER essentially has a swerve drive with active suspension. Combining the motion from the active suspension, steering, and propulsion on each wheel module it can “crawl” through really soft soil that is expected to be in permanently shadowed regions found at the lunar south pole.

At 12 seconds in the video here, you can see the mobility testbed crawling through very soft sand at the NASA Glen SLOPE lab.

Here is a video of an older prototype crawling through sand as well.


Segslide. I’ve been thinking about segswerve, seems tricky.

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I see so many post about drive trains being traction limited, yet most swerve drives still lack the power to push or rapidly accelerate unless geared really low, which sacrifices sprint speed.

I feel like this is the wrong take away from what I was saying but to explain further. Teams have been told to stop doing burn outs with their robots. This is done in a couple ways from limiting power in code to drivers driving differently. The reason (I suspect) you have seen less swerve robots in pushing matches is because of these factors. In addition the point of swerve is to not get into a pushing match but to evade defense. This is then contrasted by the fact that many teams are now picking swerve robots to play defense because of the ability to always be in the way.


Could we see gear shifting swerve in the future to give both high power and speed?


Well, a part of this local maxima we’ve reached is due to game design. They’re all catered towards wheeled drive bases. As long as that holds true, swerve will dominate. I personally am hoping for a field design that caters towards bipedal or quadrupedal locomotion.

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Shower thought: how many years until we get Kit of Parts swerve?


I think robots won’t really make it into the ‘world’ until they can walk. I’d love to see bipedal or multi-pedal drives.

But bumpers are difficult. Do we need to make changes to the bumper height? or allow flexible height? If you’re walking, keeping a bumper around you is tough.

Idk… 2027 earliest?

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PWNAGE did shifting swerve in 2015

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There are a few teams that have done shifting swerve 2767 did one (2013 I think) and there are a few teams that still use them that are skipping my mind.

There are even some teams out there with CVT swerves. (maybe a few people can link in a few examples of the top of their heads)

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1640 is probably most notable.


Here are my two outlandish ideas:

1: swerve & tank drive. Having some form of drive train that can switch from tank to swerve an visa versa, creating the ultimate power and speed combo.

2: (this may be unrealistic) Adding an additional motor to swerve movement. With my minimal research the torque of the movement of swerve is doubled with a second motor while keeping the speed the same. Now, this may seem impossible or overbearing with this idea relying on 16 motors, but there are three ways I can think of doing this; One, is creating a triangle swerve with 9 total motors (3 modules, 3 motors per module, 2 for driving, 1 for rotation) but I don’t know how that may affect the stability/programing. Two, adding a second motor to only two of the modules (again wont affect speed but may create issues with programing). Or three some form of PDP Extension that would be developed by FIRST in the future. This is idea is outlandish but perhaps possible.

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1533 did that in 2016!


It would either have to get a whole lot cheaper to produce or FIRST would need to find a sponsor willing to cover the increased machining and material costs. I guess some combination of suppliers could also partner up to distribute costs among themselves.

The controls would also have to get to a point where they can be just as (not almost as, not just as with enough experience) simple as a tank drive - which I doubt could happen in the near future due to swerve having the complexity of the turning motors while tank drives are as simple as setting the power on two motor controllers.

In 2021 many teams did 3 motor swerve modules. 1678, 1619, 148, etc… (a lot have videos up on YouTube). I personally did a robotics research class where I built one and posted progress on here.

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Yes, but what about a 4 motor swerve module!?

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On It. Lol