Kickoff!

A few people on our team said Kickoff is like our Super Bowl, but it’s really more like the NFL draft. Just a thought.

We trickled in starting around 8:30 AM, with plenty of donuts and drinks to go around. After wrestling with Twitch.tv for a bit, the broadcast started. Everyone enjoyed the arcade-themed intro by the usual suspects, but the main event definitely felt overdue- maybe it’s because it’s been a year since the last one.

Anyway, once we watched the animation a few times and got the manuals printed, we split up into groups to get a deeper reading. Groups took sections about the field, match play, game rules, and robot rules, and did short presentations highlighting the key features of each. After this, we went into a freeform strategy discussion, counting points and creating high-level strategies. After the lunch break, we decided that we would attempt almost every aspect, with the priorities being so:
1. Drive/mobility
2. Floor pickup
3. Vault delivery
4. Switch
5. Scale
6. Solo climb
7. Tandem climb

This is a fairly simple game in robot design, with only one game element. The major decisions were whether the scale was worth it and where to place climbing. We decided that being able to “tip the scale” was essential, and that climbing came after it although not by much. Tandem climbs are interesting because it depends on alliance members, but we proposed strategies that involved rung-esque robot devices and winching mechanisms to bolt onto our eliminations partners.

After strategy was mostly complete, we started to look at robot design in broad strokes. Firstly we settled on a tank drive, deciding that omnidirectional motion wasn’t worth it (once again.) We brainstormed different ways to bring blocks up to the scale, through variations of arms, lifts, and shooters. Each of these could easily be adapted to placing on the switch as well. We’ve never succeeded in building lifts in recent memory, but with a plethora of time and resources we are confident that we can prototype one. As for a shooter, we will do some prototyping to see how the milk crates react to fast acceleration combined with an even faster deceleration. I proposed a singly-articulated arm based on 1503’s 2011 robot, described by Nick Lawrence in his article for TBA “Stop Overbuilding.” The other brainstorming group found videos from Vex Skyrise robots, and thought a doubly-linked four-bar would be a good thing to test.