Illinois Tech Robotics’ Goliath defeated all competitors to take the top spot at the Midwestern Robotics Design Competition held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The competition is in its 29th year and is run by University of Illinois students.
In this year’s competition, the game pieces were three inch foam balls, as well as colored golf balls. In order to score, golf balls needed to be released from a dispenser by rotating a square knob that would release one ball of a random color for each rotation. Golf balls matching the team’s color then had to be placed in a container with a hinged lid in the corner of the course. Teams could also score by driving up a steep ramp to the second level and pulling a pin from a spring loaded cannon loaded with foam balls. The foam balls could then be scored by placing them into the rotating center bin of the course. Robots were not allowed to drive closer than one foot to the rotating bin.
The telescopic arm and pneumatic gripper system the team designed for Goliath helped it reach beyond the competition. The retractable arm made it easier for the robot to navigate the ramps on the course while allowing easy manipulation of obstacles such as swinging doors. When fully extended, the 42-inch arm allowed the team to score foam balls without breaching the one foot exclusion zone around the scoring bin. The live video system on the robot assisted the team in making complicated maneuvers while navigating the course.
In addition to Goliath, the Illinois Tech team brought a quadcopter called Icarus, a two-wheeled gravity driven robot named Fenrir, and their oldest robot dubbed Roslund. Unfortunately these three robots were eliminated prior to the semifinals. The manipulator system for these robots was designed to capture balls directly from the dispenser and autonomously sort them, only keeping balls in the team’s color. This system proved to be too purpose specific and did not allow the robots to score effectively.
Watch this video from Nash Kaminski to see Goliath in action.