Power Surge Robot
Sorry for the delay with this post... I've been busy discovering just how much time it can take to prepare for college placement exams and Calculus AP tests. :-)
Here's a video that shows the capabilities of Power Surge's robot, "Spike". BTW, Spike is a reference to a voltage spike, which is another name for a power surge. The video shows what Spike can do in autonomous mode as well as tele-op (driver control) mode:
One of the robot components shown in the video that might not be as well known as other parts of the robot is our Intake System, or our mechanism for retrieving pucks off the floor. At the regionals, we had an intake system that could get one puck at a time, and that required quite a bit of accuracy on the part of the driver. Also, the puck had to be on a flat area. This made it slow and unreliable for us to get pucks off the floor in matches. In preparation for Atlanta, we wanted to improve our intake system, since we thought opponents would probably dump our pucks on the floor early in the match to try to prevent us from scoring them. We came up with an design - somewhat similar to a vacuum cleaner - that works really well. A rotating turbine with flexible brushes sweeps pucks into the robot. Then the same turbine rotates and lifts the puck onto vertical conveyor belts (made with LEGOs and non-slip pad), which lift the puck over 17 inches off the ground before dropping it into our big Puck Magazine with the rest of the pucks. The whole thing is done with just three NXT motors. It can retrieve pucks from almost anywhere on the mat: obstacle strips, up against field walls, etc. In addition, the mouth of the Intake System is 8 inches wide, so the driver doesn't need to be accurate at all; he can simply drive the robot over a puck in roughly the right place and the robot will take care of the rest.
Below are videos of the autonomous and driver-control modes of our 5th qualifying match. We're on the blue alliance, and our drivers have yellow shirts (one of them is me). We won this match 222 - 208. This was the highest individual score (222), as well as the highest combined score (430) at the World Championships. We used our autonomous mode that scored two puck racks for the first time in this match and it worked flawlessy, putting all 18 pucks into the triangular goal. It turned out to be a good thing that we did this, because a team on the opposing alliance also used a two puck rack-autonomous mode for their first time, and their partner also scored a couple pucks in autonomous mode.
Driver control was a little stressful for our fans. I was the primary driver, but neither the on-field coach nor myself had noticed that our opponents scored so much in autonomous mode. So in driver control period, we focused on scoring lots of our opponents' pucks to obtain ranking points and overtake the #1 team in the rankings (see my previous post about FTC). However, it ended up being better for us, because we still won the match, plus we got a lot of ranking points and took over the #1 spot.
You can see more information and pictures from the World Championships on my team's website: http://www.teampowersurge.org/