Well, I don’t know if I can come up with 10, but I’ll give it a shot.
#1: Simplicity is best. Don’t spend too much time building an overly elaborate drivetrain. If it’s the greatest drive system ever, but it doesn’t work, you’re going to be stuck. Whatever you build, make sure it works. A basic drill drive that works is better than a 12-motor drive that doesn’t.
#2: Make sure what you build is suitable for the game. Design your drive based on what you need to do in the game, not what would be cool to do. If speed and maneuverability are key, swerve drive might help. If pushing power matters, though, you might want to go with treads or basic 4-wheel drive.
#3: Make sure your drive is suitable for your robot. Like rule #2, if your drive doesn’t fit your robot’s overall plan, you won’t be as successful.
#4: Don’t spend too much time on drive. The drive system is the most important piece, but don’t wait until the last week of the build season to build the rest of your robot. If you follow Rule #1, this should be a piece of cake.
#5: Plan everything out first. If you’re doing something really simple, this doesn’t take much, but if you’re going to be a little more ambitious, a good plan (in CAD, Inventor, or the like) is a must.
#6: Keep yourself open to all ideas. Some of the best drive systems ever (71’s walking bot comes to mind) were totally different from anything ever seen before. Keep Rule #1 in mind, but don’t rule out anything just because it is different.
#7: When designing your drive system, remember what resources you have available. If you don’t have what you need to build your ultimate drive system, it’s not going to happen.
#8: Watch your costs. If you’re team is on a small budget, you don’t want to break the bank by having all your gears custom made and your housing cut on a waterjet. You can do a lot with stock gears and basic machine shop equipment. One hint: look at automotive parts, like drive shafts and such. Sometimes, you can salvage a very good part from an old car drivetrain.
#9: Watch your weight. Try to minimize the size of your drive; it’ll give you more room for other “fun” stuff.
#10: Finally, after viewing all of the above, refer back to Rule #1. It has to be simple to succeed. You don’t have to limit yourself, but rather control yourself. Think: “Is what I’m doing possible to accomplish in six weeks, with my current resources and expertise?” If you answer yes, go for it! If you answer no, go back and think about what you can do to solve any feasibility issues. You’ll be satisfied with the results, and it will save a lot of time and frustration later on.
Guess I made it to 10 :D. I hope this helps you out. This is, in a nutshell, how we plan out our drive system. If you follow all the “rules,” you can’t go wrong.