Building has officially started for both FTC teams, and we have entered a stage in the season when creativity, strategy, and expertise become vital to having a well-functioning robot. We have currently have three weeks until our first scrimmage on Saturday, December 9th, and we are ready to work hard and build our robot, but also become inspired along the way.
We first spent our fifth meeting on October 17th finishing our pushbots and experimenting with the kit we use to build our competition robot. It was important to become familiar with the tools and parts so that we were not wasting time trying to figure everything out while we are building the robot, and learn new techniques that we could apply to building the robot. Once we finished, we began to discuss the game strategies we came up with at our first meeting, revising them with our new team members and applying knowledge we had gained about the game now that we had learned more about it.
The “Relic Recovery” game consists of four teams, two on each alliance, competing in a small area for both teams. The time for the robot to run and complete tasks consists of thirty seconds of autonomous mode, which is when the robot uses stored programs to complete tasks without the help of the driver, and tele-operated, which is when the driver takes over and tells the robot what to do using a gamepad. There are several tasks the robot can complete for points, such as put glyphs (foam blocks) in a cryptobox (a case similar to a bookshelf), knock jewels (whiffle balls) off their base, and place “relics” in the different picture boxes outside the game field. Some of the tasks are worth more points in autonomous mode, and some can only be completed in the period called End Game. The alliance that gets the most points wins.
At our sixth meeting on October 24th, we began to build the chassis of our robot. A chassis is the main frame of the robot where the wheels and electrical workings are attached. We discussed what was important to have on the chassis design, and how to execute the design. It is important to have a good chassis design, or your robot could fall apart during the competition. We also discussed the pros and cons of using omni wheels versus regular wheels on our robot, and then we brainstormed subsystems for the rest of the meeting.
On Sunday, October 29, we hosted a Drive It! Workshop at the CMU Girls of Steel Robotics practice field at NREC in Lawrenceville. Two other teams also came, one from Moon, Apollo IV, FTC team 12556 and one from Mars Township, the Martians, FTC 13336. To introduce ourselves to the other teams, we played a game of “Ninja”. Then we split into our teams and got to work on our chassis. My team, #9820 Hypatia, took a different approach than the other Girls of Steel FTC team, #9981 Lovelace, and decided to get our chassis done first. After some brainstorming, we came up with an octagonal design. Our first attempt to build this failed, so we put a rectangle around it, which allowed our robot’s wheels to move more freely while still supporting the weight of the structure. This workshop was a great chance for us to meet other teams, work on our chassis, and practice driving our robot at the practice field.
At our seventh meeting on October 31st, we continued work on our chassis. We attached wheels, and attached all the electronics to the top of the chassis. At the end of the meeting, we were able to get our robot to run. The robot is powered by an app, and controlled through a gamepad.
At our eighth meeting on November 7th, we discussed how to more conveniently place our electronics on the robot, and also where would be the most effective place to put a color sensor. We also began to build our first subsystem that would grab glyphs and place them in the cryptobox. We plan to do this using linear slides built with extrusions and string. Some of the team began working on learning to build a linear slide, while the rest of us brainstormed how to build the subsystem and where to place it on the robot.
We had a very exciting opportunity given to us on Wednesday, November 8th. The entire Girls of Steel team was invited to visit the Uber ATG facility in Pittsburgh. We had a chance to speak to an all female panel of employees and ask them about Uber ATG cars, working at Uber, and being a woman in STEM. The women we talked to were very intelligent and inspiring, and I personally have never felt more empowered to go after my goals than I did after coming out of the facility that night. After listening to them speak alongside my teammates, I knew that the goal I have as a Girls of Steel member is not only to learn about robotics and build a robot for competitions, but to become inspired to pursue a career in STEM, and inspire other girls to pursue STEM by showing them what they could accomplish someday, just like the Uber employees did for me and my teammates.
Photos provided by Girls of Steel and Uber ATG.