The class, 2.007 – Design and Manufacturing I, revolves around learning and practicing a design process to build a robot that competes on a themed game board. That semester’s theme was Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
I had been working on a robot for the first half of the semester, but it wasn’t coming together well. My schedule prevented me from spending enough time to accurately machine the parts that I needed. When I saw that my initial design wouldn’t work out, I decided to start from scratch. That led me to using a laser cut body since it would be easy to iterate and get precise results. For example, I created strong interference fits between the different acrylic parts in a matter of hours.
To have maneuverability without a complex steering or drive shaft mechanism, I used a servo motor to control each driving wheel. The downside of this decision was that it’d be hard to control each motor individually. To overcome this, I programatically simplified the driving control to a single joystick while maintaining on-the-spot turning. My main point-scoring mechanism was a tape measure which was extended (and retracted) with a DC motor and rubber lined wheels. The mechanism is about to extend in the picture above.
My strategy was to complete the lifting portion autonomously to score double the points (as per the game’s rules) and then position the robot to easily score more points during the RC control portion. For that, I attached a bent metal scoop to push object into the “chocolate river”.
I ended up placing in the top 16 of 128 students. The Boston Globe covered the competition.