There is a nice discussion thread for proposed rules to implement the “post bag” environment. Regardless of how that all plays out, this change will affect how each team goes about designing and building their robot(s?). It is likely to affect the amount of time spent on game analysis and prototyping, meeting schedules, build season milestones, competition schedule, planning for change, etc. I have a few thoughts to share, but I would really like to learn hear what this community thinks.
As for myself and my team, I really don’t see us starting over from scratch to build a “me-too” robot mid season (please God, NO!). I fully expect that we will make more mid-season changes than we have in the past, though. A few of my thoughts regarding how to prepare for this in our robot design/build:
- Continue to build a practice bot. The benefits still outweigh the costs. Compete with the “fresh” bot. Beat the living daylights out of the practice bot.
- Modular Design. We already do that somewhat, but we will need to take it to a new level. It is hard enough to implement a new end effector (etc.), but can we replace the elevator/pivot arm that the end effector is mounted on? What could we change on our “baseline” elevator that would make it more adaptable to some as-yet unforeseen end effector?
- Spend some extra time thinking about the drive chassis and try to get it right. I expect that scrapping the drive base and starting over mid-season is just about the last thing we would ever want to do. We are probably going to be stuck with our initial choice for length, width, ground clearance, drive type (tank, swerve, mecanum, etc.), frame openings, etc. I don’t have any great insights on how to pick the most adaptable design solution for the chassis.
- Make it easy to add new stuff. Drill plenty of extra holes in structural parts, using a rational pattern. Install more motor controllers and pneumatic solenoids than you need for the baseline robot. Its a lot easier to do this stuff before the robot gets fully assembled.
- Be paranoid about weight from day one. Try to leave 10 lbs for that cool flux capacitor you might see in week 3 or so.