Minibot Standardization (FRC 2011: Logomotion)

Any thoughts on Minibot standardization between teams to make sharing these bots easy between alliance partners? Some sort of standardized shape, volume, size, or mechanism to use to deploy the minibots that would work with a variety of deployment methods?
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good thinking!

No concrete ideas on my part yet, but certainly think this can be a valuable thread!

I also think a standard set of outputs from the robot can be helpful. Then one team team can design a self-contained mini-bot and deployer. The deployer can be attached to any robot as long as the robot provides the right signals, like a relay output, a digital output, and/or a PWM output. So team A can make a mini-bot and deployer (deployer easily attached to another robot’s chasis) that uses a piston to deploy. Team B may want to use a digital output to deplay. Team C may want both a digital output and a piston. Team D may want to make the robot deploy with a PWM signal that goes to motor…

Still thinking out loud here, but lets keep the ideas flowing.

A big incentive for standardizing Minibots is the Coopertition score, as well as the ease of use within your alliance sharing ‘minibot duty’.

From the game manual:
5.3.5 Coopertition Score (CS)
Any borrowed MINIBOT which scores points by legally triggering the TARGET during the MATCH receives one (1) Coopertition point for the FRC TEAM registered for the event that is affiliated with the MINIBOT.
The total number of Coopertition points earned by a TEAM throughout the qualification matches will be their Coopertition score.

A clarification of some terminology that I found confusing at first:
HOSTBOT – the electromechanical assembly used to carry the MINIBOT. (ROBOT – MINIBOT = HOSTBOT). If a TEAM plays a MATCH without a MINIBOT, then the HOSTBOT is the ROBOT.

Suggestion that may be practical: Design the interface such that the minibot is on a platform during the match. The platform then provides the launch point. If the minibot is designed to roll off the platform onto the base, or has that option, then it shouldn’t matter too much which minibot is loaded on.

So, for the robot side, put a platform to either the base or the pole. If appropriate, make sure that it’s notched for the pole. For the minibot side, have a base drive attachment.

Remember, all minibots are 12" cubes or smaller and 15 lbs or under.

It would seem to be in line with the principles of graceful professional to develop a sudo standard model of a minibot. I would like to elaborate on the why but hopefully we all see this.

What these means is we would need to build a standard ‘casing’ so that teams could create a standard adapter. To allow for maximum minibot hostbot comparability.

Also a standard umbilical connector to allow for minibot hostbot communication. To allow a go switch / charging port.

I’d love to see something like this done. However, I think it will be up to FIRST or one of the big/respected teams to develop this.

If anyone has any suggestions or wants to propose something, draw it in CAD first and make it publically known what teams are using the standard.

This is a good idea. I think it would work better with there only being a specific size. If someone would create a ‘universal’ shape, or design, there will be too many ideas, and everyone will want there design to be the ‘universal’ design.

I was thinking (dangerous I know) that it would be possible for the minibots to either have a tower contact button or a “you’re on your own” dead-man switch, and just be running a program all match that said, wait until X switch toggles to the other position. Minimal programming needed. Or have the NXT in a standard-ish area so a servo mounted on a “flexible” arm could hit the run button easily.

Yeah, I’d say as much as possible teams should strive to make their robots be able to launch any kind of minibot that can fit in the 12x12x12 inch dimensions.

I feel like having a platform like this is the simplest and most practical option. It’s really easy to just have a flat surface on top of your robot.

Good idea.
I suggest that we need to decompose the problem and at least describe these requirements:

  1. envelope/modular shape for the MB.
  2. delivery platform & temporary fastening approach (so MB stays put until it is deployed). Maybe the platform even includes a box which is just larger than the size of item 1.
  3. execution: e.g. platform extends, then a ‘pusher’ slides the MB forward onto the pole and retracts.
  4. MB recognizes contact w pole and starts up on its own.

Or …
Platform extends fwd, latches a very small piece of FTC legal metal to the pole (minimalist Minibot) and spring launches the MB up the pole.

This is a lot easier than it seems. Remember, the mini bot already uses a standard part system- FTC. All you need to do is drill FTC style holes all over a plate of metal. Then, before a match, determine where you want to connect mini and host bots on the plate, and put a bolt or shaft facing straight up at that point, with no nut holding the mini down. It is simply to prevent side-to-side movement. The mini is responsible for sensing that it is connected to the tower, at which point it must pull itself straight up, cleanly off the shaft/bolts. The host bot must extend the plate, with the mini bot, to the tower. No wiring or detach systems necessary.

There was a similar idea to this last year to have a standard position for a suspension bar. As it was a great idea, it never worked because teams all went on their own plan.

Don’t wait fror FIRST to develop anything like this. It is up to teams.

Also don’t wait for FIRST Robotics Team xxxx (or xxx or xx) to develop it - you’re just as good. Just do it, everyone will comment, we’ll come to a consensus…done.

Waiting for ‘someone else’ to do it is the wrong idea.

This is a great reason to try again. What went wrong last year? What should we do different this year to get the standard defined clearly and adopted? Maybe a catchy name and logo would help (think about Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI, USB…)?

One idea already mentioned in this thread that I liked:
Compile a list of teams that commit to implementing the standard. When you get to the regional, you’ll know what pits to visit for compatible minibots / hostbots.

Not at all. Why would teams design for a suspension bar when they could design for the very standard, has to be there hanging bar instead? Making a different “suspension bar” size was stupid.

I like the idea of the dead man switch. What about if the dead man switch kept a power switch open on the minibot, and when the dead man switch falls out, the circuit is closed, and the minibot powers on?

I agree. And at the same time, teams should construct their minibots such that they dont have any oddities that may hinder deployment by some systems such as curved faces; they may not work with certain implementations of a push deployment

I believe that minibots should be designed such that they are deployment-mechanism-agnostic, be it by pushing, swinging, or something else, because teams will end up having to make different deployment mechanisms based on how the rest of their robot is designed

I propose the name of: MIND: MINibot Deployment

It is a ramp that is essentially drawbridge, that deploys at 30 inches (at the line) and emulates deploying at base level. Other than that, there must be 121212 space inside the robot to store minibots.

I think there are 2 things to be standardized.

  1. Minibot activation.
  2. Minibot-pole transition device.

#2 is the simplest. The drawbridge or a platform device is simple: move ramp/robot to either the base or the pole and let it do its thing. Telling it when to go could be as simple as a bar across the end that when released turns the minibot on or lets it go.

#1 is harder. NXT device, pure mechanical, non-NXT… Ideally, the start trigger is contained on the minibot and is “running” when the minibot is loaded onto the hostbot.

The 30" height might be tricky–it depends on whether the minibot is allowed to be above the line. But substitute your favorite height in there as you need to.

Probably the best way to even be unintentionally compatible with most minibots would be to have a 12x12x12 (or a little more for comfort. Bots have feelings too) box with one side open that the minibot comes out of. On the closed sides of the box would be containment bars to keep the minibot from moving. The open side would have a gap in the bars that allows them to go around the pole. When launching the bot slides out of the box with the top open and climbs

An internal limit switch that detects the pole would probably be enough, and would work with almost any design (triggers nxt program to start, closes circuit to a motor, etc)