In industry, the engineering design process is usually a formal series of steps. In competition robotics, the formality is usually discarded in favor of a faster turnaround time. There are about as many different implementations of the engineering design process as there are engineers. In this tutorial, the general process we will follow is illustrated in the opening picture. In the FIRST Robotics Competition, this circular process is accompanied by the mantra “design is iterative,” as popularized by John V-Neun of Innovation First International.
To fully adopt and successfully implement this iterative approach to design is challenging. Your team will need to have the motivation to continue working even when you face repeated failure. You will have to be willing to develop and re-develop a manipulator until you achieve excellence. Attaining it will not come naturally, only through hard work not just during the build season, but during the rest of the year as well.
Finally, the process you use to implement a manipulator heavily depends on an honest evaluation of your team’s resources. A team that has access to materials, work time, and experienced people will operate differently than a second year team that is still learning the ins and outs of building a robot and only has several hours per week to work. Failing to make adjustments appropriate to your team’s capabilities will inevitably result in failure.
The pictures in this tutorial are primarily from my team's (FRC Team 2374) design process for the 2012 FRC game, Rebound Rumble.
This tutorial was made through the Autodesk FIRST High School Intern program.
Step 1: Develop a Strategy
- The robot’s max speed is 8 ft/s – Demand
- The robot’s max speed is 12 ft/s – Desire
- The robot can shift with max speeds of 7 and 15 ft/s – Wish
The final part of developing a strategy is ensuring that it does not overshoot your team’s abilities. Your team must check that your goals are achievable with your given resources. If they are not, you must focus on fewer, higher priority objectives rather than spreading your team too thin.