- Our Team Robot Project
The Brandeis Hillel Day School entry into the 1999 FIRST
Golem- our 128 lb entry into the 1999 FIRST
Robot Competition! He wasn't the greatest looking robot around,
but he sure was good at what he did!
crew behind the building of Golem! Unfortunately I did not get
any still pictures of the kids who were responsible for the
driving, designing, decorating, and other responsibilities of
the robot, I may need to get some clips from the video I took
for those ones! (Sorry)
of us spent nearly 2 months getting the robot together with
all the parts specified by NASA. The robot was capable of lifting
the basket over 8 feet high within a few seconds and could climb
up onto the 6 inch high puck with the climbing feet on the front
(almost LAUNCH up for that matter).
of size were important to our design, the size of the robot
had to be within certain restrictions (4 feet tall, etc) until
the start of the match. We designed our basket to unfold to
double its size after the start of the match before raising
over 8 feet high!
FIRST Robot Competition was held at the NASA Ames Research
Center at Moffet Field, CA in the BIG hangar building. This
is the coolest building I have ever been in. It is also the
largest open area building in the nation (world?). It was
big enough to store several planes, seating for 4000 people
and two huge pit areas and still have 2/3 of the space unused!
This is a picture of one end of the building with the doors
part way open, these doors (which were on independant rail
tracks) were on both ends of the building, and had to remain
part way open all the time or else the building would create
its own weather patterns inside!
Did I mention this place is BIG?
One of the
pit areas inside the huge hangar. The actual arena is off camera
to the right. We barely had time to hang around this pit area,
we had only about 20 minutes between matches, so we usually
came out of the arena and got right back in line! Through the
whole weekend, we fought in 12 elimination matches, of which
we won 10, placing us in 3rd place!
here's the arena before the start of a match. The rules are
kinda complex, but I'll make it as simple as I can. Every
team gets the same materials, motors, controllers, wheels,
etc to use for their robot and can order up to $450 worth
of parts from the Small Parts catalog. There are NO exceptions,
so it really makes you think of how to use materials that
came with it to their highest degree! Everybody gets the rules
at the same time a couple months before the event. These rules
also change each year, so you never know what to expect until
the last minute and everybody gets the same disadvantage and
has to use the same parts for their robots. I LOVE this idea,
by the way!
arena is set up for four robots in a match, two on each team.
The controllers are in a booth in the middle of each side
and their robots start on the opposite sides. You also have
a human player just outside the arena in each corner that
can interact somewhat with the robots. There are 12 elimination
matches for each robot team, and the finals are best 2 out
of 3 matches. There are several goals for the matches, all
of which end up that the team with the most points at the
end of a 2 minute match is declared the winner. You can get
points several ways:
up 'floppies'. These are the red or blue colored styrofoam
filled cloth bags in the arena, of which there are 10 of each
color. You get 3 floppies automatically in the human player's
corner, and they can throw these floppies into your robot
for scoring. There are also 4 other floppies of your color
in the arena that you can scoop, push or whatever to get into
or onto your robot. Most robots could hold a few floppies,
some (like ours) could hold 8 or 9 at once. Floppies are worth
1 point each if they are not touching the ground at the end
of your match. One technique used by some players is to actually
throw your floppies into the enemiy robot's basket!
'puck' in the middle of the arena is that octogon-shaped thing
about 6 feet across with two metal poles sticking up on each
side. It is carpeted and is on caster wheels, so your robot
can push it around- if you can push the puck into the enemy
side of the arena by the end of the match, you get a 2x multiplier
for each of your floppies! Gets pretty crazy when 4 robots
are all trying to push this thing around!
the floppies above 8 feet. If you can (and most robots there
could), use some kind of mechanical device to lift your floppies
at least 8 feet above the floor, you get another 2x multiplier
for each floppy! This was a really cool thing to watch, most
robots incorporated a scissor-jack style lifter for the basket,
some even had covers that opened and closed on top of the
basket, and there was at least 3 cool 'cherry-picker' style
lifting mechanisms I saw too.
onto the puck. If your robot was capable of driving, clawing,
jumping, whatever onto the puck at the end of the match, it
was worth a whopping 3x multiplier for each floppy your team
has! And, if BOTH robots in your team could get up, its ANOTHER
3x multiplier! Some robots (like ours) simply used a climbing
system in the front to pull the whole robot up onto the 6
inch high puck, but some used other techniques, such as grabbing
the pole on the side of the puck and raising itself up from
there (2 inches off the ground was the minimum requirement).
These were some really cool designs that could do this, we
always were hoping to team up with a 'pole grabber' in our
matches so we didn't have to cramp the puck with too many
robots. During one match in the first day, our robot launched
its way onto the platform, knocking the two enemy robots off
within the last 5 seconds of the match, this strategy earned
our team the "Best play of the Day" award!
your team is declared the winner by points of the match, your
entire team got ANOTHER multiplier (2x or 3x, I cannot remember)
Like I mentioned earlier we won most of our matches, so our
score was extremely high.
it was possible to get a perfect score of 540 points in a
match, which we understand was done only twice the whole weekend.
Our team came SO close to getting a perfect score with a robot
named 'Crusher', but at the end of the match it was found
that Crushers raised basket had swayed slightly out of the
bounds of the arena... rats!
It was so
cool to see some of the techniques developed over these two days,
robot controllers started really being able to control their machines
quite well and certain defensive moves became more popular. Once
people were able to see how successful our robot was, the other
teams started to develop strategies with their ally to run defense-only
against us during our matches. Regardless, Golem still was able
to keep up the winning streak!
elimination matches, our robot proceeded into the finals. As one
of the top 8 placing robots, we were allowed to pick one of the
non-placing robots to be our ally through the finals. We picked
a robot that had done fairly well during eliminations but got
a lower score due to missing some of the matches. We went in with
high hopes, but were disappointed early when our climbing motor
(which we had replaced with a new one the day before just to avoid
any problems) failed to get us up onto the platform like we had
been able to do so easily in the previous day. In the best 2 out
of 3 final elimination, we got knocked out early.
all, I had a fantastic time at this event! I sure wish I had taken
more pictures, but I think I will have to pull some stills from the
video that I shot during the event. I'll see if I can get some of
those up here too. Congratulations to the kids on our team from Brandeis
Hillel Day School in San Rafael, you guys ROCKED! (Did I mention that
these kids are from a Middle School, while every one of the other
teams at the event were from High School? Not bad at all for our first
to next time!