Past Robots 2017


2017 – Steamworks

The Game:

The game is played by two alliances of three individual teams and their robots compete on a field to score “match” points to win the game and ranking points to advance to playoff rounds. The game has a steampunk theme and the teams shoot wiffle balls which represent fuel into a simulated boiler which transfers the generated steam into an airship in the middle of the field. Each alliance has one airship, which they pressurize with steam from the boiler and load with plastic gears from the field. At the end of the match, robots can climb and hang on ropes attached to the airship for additional points.

Chassis and Drivetrain:

One of the top priorities for our robot this year was to have a drivetrain that could traverse the field quickly while also withstanding defense. To accomplish these objectives, the robot was designed for a six-wheel west coast style drivetrain with six 4 inch Colson wheels.  It also had two gear modes, low for more power, allowing it to push other robots, and high for increased speed.

Gear Mechanism: Passive and Floor Pickup

Our passive gear mechanism was designed to retrieve the gears from the human player drop-off. It needed very little space on the robot, giving us more room for fuel. It also didn’t require complex mechanisms, meaning there was less that could go wrong with the system. After our second regional competition, we put an active floor pickup on our robot to collect gears from the floor. It did this by scooping under the gear and pulling it up into the robot.


On the bottom of our robot, we had a spinning bar with hooks attached to it. These hooks were used in order to snag the rope released from the airship, allowing the robot to pull itself by looping the rope around the bar. To prevent the robot from sliding backwards, we used two torque wrench heads, locking the rod in place.

Fuel Control: Collector and Shooter

To maximize the space for fuel storage, we made sure that our robot was as efficient in its space use as possible. This was done by using a passive gear collector, as well as by making the collector and shooter part of the same mechanism. The collector and shooter work through the use of rotating wheels that pull in the fuel and spit them out through changing the direction of the flywheels. During build season, we realized that the robot was not able to fire all the balls as some were stuck in the hopper. To remedy this we added an agitator that moved up and down in order to push the balls toward the shooter.

New and Interesting

This year’s game was interesting because it put a human player in the field. The job of the pilot was to take in the gears and place them on pegs to spin rotors. It was through the pilot that many of our ranking points were scored.  

2016 – Stronghold

The Game:

The game is played by two alliances of up to three teams each, and involves breaching the opponents’ defenses, known as outer work as well as capturing their tower by first firing “boulders” (small foam balls) at it, and then surrounding or scaling the tower using a singular rung on the tower wall. Points are scored by crossing elements of the tower’s outer works, shooting boulders into the opposing tower’s five goals in order to lower the tower strength, and by surrounding and scaling the tower.

Our Robot:

Chassis and Drivetrain:

One of the top priorities for our robot this year was to have a strong drivetrain that would be capable of crossing many of the defenses while being able to traverse the field quickly, push other robots, and resist pushing. To accomplish these objectives, the robot was designed for a six-wheel west coast style drive train with six 8 inch pneumatic wheels.

Boulder Control (Mechanical “Lance”):

Next on the priority list was the ability to manipulate boulders. This is accomplished via a mechanism appropriately nicknamed “the lance”, a roller collector to pull the ball in with inverted ramps to help the front of the robot clear the defenses while driving over them. Our robot is also able to score in the high goal using a hooded flywheel shooter, spinning at 11,000 RPM so as to eliminate the effects of variability between the different boulders.

Defense Crossing Mechanisms:

The final mechanisms on this year’s robot are a set of passive ramps for raising the portcullis, a defense that operates somewhat like a sliding garage door. These mechanisms, nicknamed “the tomahawks” after a similar mechanism used by another team, allow the robot to raise the portcullis simply by driving up to it and pushing with the angled part of the ramp. These “tomahawks” can also be used to cross the “cheval du frise”, which is basically an alternate-facing four bridge contraption. The “tomahawks” would have to be lowered in order to also lower the two upper-facing bridges.

Combined, these features also had to be shorter than 14 inches so that the robot could pass underneath another defense (the low bar), allowing the robot quick access to the side of the field with the opponent’s tower. Packaging these mechanisms into such a small space was quite a design challenge, and gives the robot its distinct look. Due to its resemblance to a scorpion when the lance is lowered and the tomahawks are raised, as well as the team’s general space theme, the robot has been named “Scorpio” after the constellation.

New and Interesting:

This year’s game had a win/loss system, and the ranking system depended on how many ranking points were scored during all of the playoff matches. Ranking points could either be scored by having 4 out of 5 defenses completely damaged, making the defenses breached. Breaching defenses is considered one ranking point, while having all robots scale the opposing tower’s batter at the end of the match is also considered one ranking point. In addition, one robot from each alliance can be placed in the opposing alliance’s side of the field, which the robot is considered a “spy bot”.


Past Robots 2012 – 2016


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