The spool is probably one of the coolest features of our robot. We hadn’t intended to use pneumatics at all – but testing late last week revealed that our first manipulator design wasn’t going to cut it. So, quickly, we brainstormed and designed the manipulator shown here and decided to actuate it with a single piston. We didn’t want to have any loose wiring or tubing near our pulleys and lift cables, so one of our mentors – a senior researcher at Microsoft Research – devised this mechanism in about 30 minutes. It works great and we’re really happy with it. It’s too bad it will get hidden behind our protective side panels.
Tilting the lift back also helps mitigate some of the uneven loading on the bearing surfaces caused by the cantilevered load of the manipulator and ball. Our center of gravity is very low and very close to the center of the robot and we might’ve been able to get away with a completely vertical lift; but we’re very happy with what we have. Bringing the ball back above the robot was one of highest design priorities and as result, we’re able to travel around the track at full speed while carry a ball at full height.
Stop by our pit in Atlanta and take a look. We’re still here working on the last few details, but we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. Hopefully, the season will just get better and better.