I’m curious how you guys process and design your robot during the build season. So I made simple poll about your team’s engineering mindset. Then leave a comment how your team approaches designing and times.
We usually start by looking at the rules (especially the scoring section) and then have the students think of different designs AFTER we have decided on a strategy (whether it is a general strategy or a heavily refined one). Basically, our robots (in the past two years I’ve been on the team and maybe more from what I’ve heard/seen) are designed with a certain strategy/goal in mind.
I’m curious why others don’t follow a Strategist philosophy, since it seems like the most flexible of the categories. We choose among the other four to varying degrees depending on the game and that year’s student & mentor pool, which I would consider a Strategist approach. We design the robot to play the game as well as we think we can pull off, and define our priorities so that no matter what we’ll have a robot that can go out on the field and score in some way. We try to scope our ambitions to a level low enough for students to own the process while still finding success, and high enough that they’ll be inspired and challenged.
To those who would characterize themselves as following a more fixed philosophy, why? Do you need to hold to a particular philosophy due to resource constraints ($, space, manpower, etc)? Do you feel one of the non-Strategist philosophies gives the students a better experience? Or always/almost always yields more competitive robots? Is it just an ingrained part of your team culture, that your team takes pride in for its own sake? Other reasons?
I answered “Simple & Efficient” based on 3946’s 2015 and 2017 competition robots, 2018 post-season robot, and (though I wasn’t there) 2019 robot. 3946 is definitely more successful in competitions with this model than any other; every official eliminations match and every off-season match past first round in the team’s history was according to the “Practical” model.
added: - strategy has been applied both in terms of what tasks are done and how to achieve them, but the team’s resources are insufficient to regularly be “competitive & effective”.
It sounds like you’re the opposite of what I want to be, except I’m also lazy, so it ends up being expensive and lazy.
This year my team went all out in terms of concept… I missed the first week of build season where they decided to build a 3 degree of freedom robotic arm. Think Fanuc, ABB, Kuka… I knew it was a terrible decision, but got on board anyways because it sounded fun.
Nevertheless, we forged ahead bravely (what is the quip about bravery vs not fully knowing the situation?), confident that the flexibility of the arm would allow us to play powerfully, as long as the hardware and software were both there. We went full send complete 971 approach, and actually ended up looking very similar to their 2018 robot, just with less carbon. In CAD, we could intake both pieces from the rear of the robot, then drive forward and score, or turn around and score. By only developing software, we would be able to score in any position, from the front or back.
After countless sunday night CAD sessions, long nights in the machine shop, longer nights assembling it, the hardware was there. The software, not so much. Each competition we took more and more of the arm off, because we had no code to drive it. I am truly proud of what I accomplished with my team, and how much these students learned. The arm is scary powerful, and very well built. But after failing to manipulate a single game piece, I can’t call it a successful season.
I personally still like the 971 approach, but we, clearly, are not 971.
There is definitely room to add a combined version of “simple and efficient (practical)” and “competitive and effective (strategist)” since both can go under a similar train of thought. You can make a simple machine that is competitive and strategically sound, which is what our team does strive for.