2015 – Recycle Rush

Our robot featured a fork-lift style lifting mechanism and mecanum wheels. The fork-lift arms featured a curved indent allowing them to effectively collect both totes and recycle bins with the ability to stack up to three bins high. Hooks were also built-in to the ends of the arms, allowing us to hook the lip of the totes. A short arm configuration could also be used which also used hooks to grasp the lip of the totes.

Our drive train featured 4 mecanum wheels located in the corners allowing us to move in any direction and rotate the robot to any orientation while moving.

Design Objectives

With Recycle Rush, the key ability was to pick-up and place totes on a raised platform, we chose to focus on stacking the totes rather than collecting the noodles from the floor. The design objectives were:

  • Ability to pick-up and stack totes up to 4 totes high
  • Ability to pick-up recycle bins
  • Highly Maneuverable

Design Principles

In order to meet the objectives outlined above, we had to adhere to the following parameters:

  • A fork-lift like mechanism to lift totes
  • Multi-function lift capable of handling both totes and recycle bins
  • Multiple lift arm configurations, including grasping and hooking abilities
  • Mecanum wheels for maximum maneuverability.


This was our first attempt at building a robot with mecanum wheels and programming a mecanum drive. The team overcame their unfamiliarity with this drive system, and our robot proved very nimble on the playing field.

This robot was, by far, our best robot in terms of wiring. We took great care to maintain very neat wiring with proper wire management throughout. This made troubleshooting and diagnostics significantly easier.

Lessons Learned

We failed to properly align our forklift mechanism, making it difficult to properly grasp totes and causing failures in the pivoting mechanism. We had our best success when we abandoned grasping and worked directly with the short arm hook configuration.

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