‘Snow Problem’s Strategy for 2015

One piece of advice for any team following Robot in 3 days (Ri3D): realize that all teams come up with their own ideas for the game, but that doesn’t mean those ideas are the right answer. Ri3D doesn’t exist for teams to copy the robots; instead, it should help inspire teams with strategies or designs that could be used for the game. Make sure to question the ideas you see and try to find other approaches or possible improvements.

Before creating a robot, one must first decide what it must do; otherwise, things get messy—and `Snow Problem is no exception. To begin our design process, the first question we asked was what we wanted teams to get out of our Ri3D. One possibility was to show teams how to make a top-scoring robot that would likely be an alliance captain. However, we decided to take a less common route, as we felt that many other Ri3D were likely to build a primary robot. If it had already been done, we argued, teams wouldn’t learn anything new from our robot. We instead found a more specialized, simpler strategy that would be useful in the eliminations. With such an accessible design, more teams can build a design similar to ours and improve upon it with their own ideas.

To begin, we listed strategies we believed would reach the elimination matches. We discussed teams dedicating themselves to TOTEstacking, robots filling the SCORING PLATFORMS with TOTES at one level, and robots placing the RECYCLING CONTAINERS on top of stacks. With all the ideas listed, we needed to know the effect of each strategy as well as whether it would carry an alliance into elimination matches.

We decided to go with the RECYCLING CONTAINER strategy in which we would grab, move with, and place the container on tote stacks. We felt this robot would help create a lot of points for an alliance. Each side starts with 3 containers, which could lead to 18 points if a robot put a piece of LITTER into each container. Using a HUMAN PLAYER STATION, we found that it was easy to manipulate the noodle into the container. In fact, we were confident that we could do so at the beginning of the match while our alliance stacked totes for more points. Once the totes were stacked, we could start placing RECYCLING CONTAINERS on top of them, essentially tripling the points from the stack of TOTES. The last part of this strategy was to use leftover time to get through the sea of TOTES to the STEP and grab one or two of the RECYCLING CONTAINERS on it for more points.

Once decided, we had to break down this strategy into a list of goals and priorities so we knew what to focus our time on. The list we came up with is as follows:

1). Must move

  • sounds obvious but this means drive train needs to be solid

2). Grab and lift the RECYCLING CONTAINER and raise to tote level 4

  • After moving this is the most important part of the strategy. This does include getting the LITTER in the container since we’d move the container to the station and the human player does the rest.

3). Push TOTES

  • This is for pushing TOTES out of the sea of TOTES to get to the STEP more easily

The next few goals are things that are low priority but if left with enough time we want to achieve.

4). Pick up/stack TOTES

  • This can help our alliance with the coopertition points in qualifications or score TOTES if no one else can. It also means we can help score more TOTE points if the RECYCLING CONTAINERS are finished.

5).  TOTE stack

  • The highest level at which to stack at created a lot of debate. We felt a minimum of four was a good place to start since we felt that this was very doable for TOTE stacking robots at eliminations. Trying to get the stack to 5 is something we didn’t think would involve a large jump from four and if we have an alliance partner who can stack to this height fast it would mean some extra points. One thing we kept in mind for deciding how high to go was whether it would be better to stack the RECYCLING CONTAINER on a couple tall TOTE stacks or many lower TOTE stacks. We felt that many at four is better than a few at five or six.

After finishing our list (and our strategy), we moved onto design, which is a blog for another time.

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