The first step in designing a successful manipulator is to develop a strategy. It is important to understand the rules of the game before trying to choose your strategy. Otherwise, you may waste time developing a strategy that violates the rules. Most often, a team’s strategy will be a list of robot capabilities. Many teams also rank the robot features, using a system that labels each capability as a demand, a desire, or a wish. The example below possible robot capabilities and how they may be ranked:
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
As shown in the example, an important step in determining these capabilities is creating specific performance requirements for each feature. These create a quantifiable goal against which to measure your prototypes’ performance. Making reasonable estimates for performance requirements can be tricky, because they are often based on experience and intuition, especially for game specific tasks. In some cases, using physics to determine performance requirements can be beneficial. For example, teams in 2011 FRC game were able to use information about the allowed motors to determine the minimum possible time for a miniature robot to climb a 10 ft. tall pole.
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.