Why Prototype?

The announcement of the yearly FIRST competition excites and brings joy to everyone. This is a time where the gears of all the participant’s minds start turning. It gives them the opportunity to brainstorm impactful ideas and designs that would eventually lead to the creation of an awesome robot. This pre-creation process is really important and significant as it is during this process where the ingenious blueprints and ideas for the robot would be stirred up. Without going through this reflection stage it would be impossible to create a functioning and effective robot. Prototyping was a significant part of the overall design that employed the thoughts and designs of all team members to create the final robot. Our team has a very specific way the go about the prototyping process. All the team members were gathered together and from there, they were split into many different small groups. In these groups, they sat and created the designs they brainstormed. The individual’s groups correlated with each other on their designs and they discussed the realism and the effectiveness of the designs. All ideas of all team members were accepted and considered; it was ensured that everyone’s thoughts and opinions were heard. In these groups, they discussed how the robot should look and function in contrast to this years game mechanics. Many great ideas were generated throughout this process. These ideas were later analyzed and improved to serve the purpose to work with the competition at its highest capability. All the groups reconvened and they displayed each other’s ideas. The best ideas for each group were shown and explained. Members described its functionality and the overall design process and how it’s effective. The team collectively discussed the different parts of the robot and how it had to compliment the overall robot. Every idea was taken into consideration to finally create a robot that would satisfy all the needs and requirements of this years rule and competition book. Finally, the leads and mentors of the team came together and through an intricate process of evaluating they decided on a design that the team would pursue and create. After this process was complete we went through the physical creation of prototypes. Groups were made where they were assigned a specific prototype of a manipulator. These groups were tasked to sit down and brainstorm ways these different manipulator designs would work and then create a smaller mock version of this. There were also many other prototypes for the robot which included, a pneumatics system we could use in this years robot, hatch panels, and the elevator. The hatch panel is a game piece that has to be manipulated and placed on a specific location on the game field. The elevator design is a part of the robot which contains the manipulator but can be moved to different height levels hence – the elevator. Prototyping all these different parts of the robot helps us plan and practice field strategies, but on a much smaller scale. The team can determine whether the different manipulators are the best-suited choice. Groups, using materials such as wood, nuts and bolts came together and designed a manipulator that was planned for. Doing this, we had a physical representation of how each manipulator looked and acted. The team used these prototypes and discussed which designs were more effective in manipulation. When each manipulator was tested, everyone noticed the pros and cons of each one, which led to the final decision of the “L” shape manipulator.

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