Monday, May 02, 2011

I (build) robots.

For NerdFest 2011, also known as the university's Design Day, I was required to build a robot for my Mechatronics class. The basic requirements were that it had to be controlled remotely and that it must be able to grab a ball and put it in a basket. The designs were really quite varied. Some opted to shoot the ball, some used a vacuum to pick the ball up, one team made a small elevator lift, and another team hooked up two measuring tapes to the basket so that wherever the ball was picked up it could be immediately sent along this track to the basket. Pretty ingenious...when it worked.
I have a 70-something-year old teacher who is known for asking, "What's the best kind of engineer?" The answer -- a lazy one. So in the spirit of the legendary Larry DeVries, my team opted for something simple.

We attached a tupperware container, split down the middle, to the end of a rotatable arm. The tupperware could open and close and the arm would rotate back to dump the ball in the basket. Simple, right?

It was also BEDAZZLED -- not my idea, though I fully supported it.
It turns out this design ended up being the most successful. Our robot was among the top 4 scoring robots out of 36 teams. The top two robots were based on the same idea as ours...they were just better. We made it to the 3rd round where we lost because our driver choked. Choked! When pseudo-victory was within our grasp!

Unfortunately, the 1st place robot outscored everyone by about 10 baskets so there wasn't actually much of a chance to come out on top. Overachievers. For building a robot with tupperware as one of its major components, I'd say we did pretty well.

And now? Back to doing problems like this: